“Puss in Boots” makes a purrrrrrrfect return


Graphic by Lydia Malashock

On Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” was released to theaters. This captivating tale follows the journey of Puss in Boots overcoming his vain and selfish nature and learning to sympathize with other people’s needs. In the film, Puss sets out to find the mysterious Wishing Star and use the Last Wish to restore eight out of nine lives that he lost. During this quest, he teams up with an old friend, Kitty Softpaws, and with a new one, Perrito. The villains of the story include Goldielocks and Big Jack Horner, both of whom are also aiming to use the Last Wish. However, the most hostile villain is Death himself. Puss battles with Death throughout the story as he feels the pressure of being on his last life.

The original “Puss in Boots” released in 2011 had surface-level messages. Puss is accused of committing a crime, and by the end of the movie, he clears his name and becomes a hero, while the true villains are punished. He and Kitty become a couple, and the film ends with him as the hero of his town. The overall messages of that movie are empathy, sacrifice and forgiveness. 

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” has far deeper lessons. It emphasizes the importance of treasuring relationships and valuing time spent with loved ones. Early on, the audience notice that Puss and Kitty have become estranged, despite which they are forced to work together to reach the Wishing Star. As Puss spends time with his traveling companions, Kitty Softpaws and Perrito, he realizes that he spent eight of his lives prioritizing adventuring over his relationships. The audience sees that Puss surrounds himself with people who adore him on a surface level for being a hero, but never understood him or cared about him. Throughout the film, he reevaluates his past eight lives and realizes he is afraid of commitment and vulnerability. In all situations where he thought he was chasing his next adventure, he was really running away from his past. The film also heavily deals with Puss facing his mortality. He spends the entire movie fearing that one wrong move will end his life forever, as death seemingly follows him around every corner. 

The main villain of the story—almost as critical a character as Puss himself—is Death. Death, whose sole objective is to take the souls of the deceased, is the physical embodiment of the ending of mortal life. Despite finding great joy in his work, he fully understands the value of mortal life. Death hunts Puss not only for his own pleasure, but also because Puss does not realize the value of life. Having lost his previous eight lives due to impulsive and irrational decisions, Death assumes that he will do the same with his last life, and believes that Puss does not deserve to live his final life so arrogantly.  His goal is to teach Puss how valuable every life is, and to make him stop needing others to view him as a hero and a legend. Death adds meaning and depth to the story, as he represents a lingering consequence of selfishness. He is vital, incredibly intriguing and one of the best characters in “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.”  

Other than the storyline, the film features phenomenal animation. The style of animation is reminiscent of “Arcane” and “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” because of the way it utilizes a combination of 2D animation on top of rendered 3D models. This practice is often referred to as hybrid animation. The effect gives the film a whimsical storybook feeling. It adds contrast between the sharp, flat 2D animation, and the smooth, seamless look of 3d animation. On top of that, the classic storybook characters are visually reimagined in a way that encapsulates the feeling of the original characters but presents them in a way that fits well into the “Shrek” universe. 

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is an enticing film with an intricate and valuable plot that comments on the importance of selflessness. It is attractive, full of extraordinary animation and extremely entertaining. Overall, it is an enjoyable film for people of all ages.