Purrchase the Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Blu-Ray or I will break your fingers


Thomas Black, Writer

Shrek is an icon. No one will deny that. Through memes, compelling, well-realized themes, and feature-length analyses on the franchise’s ups and downs, Shrek has essentially become immortal.

You and everyone you love will eventually die, but Shrek will remain.

And naturally, as any massive franchise does, Shrek spawned media outside of the core series. 

Television specials, video games, terrible stage plays, ogre-flavored ChapStick, you name it. However, the biggest thing that splintered off from Shrek is, unquestionably, the many media pieces following Puss in Boots.

The title character was introduced in Shrek 2, as a charming side character helping Shrek and Donkey defeat the two-faced Fairy Godmother, a villain determined to destroy Shrek and Fiona’s relationship and pair the princess with her son, the pathetic Prince Charming.

Puss would go on to appear in [The one we don’t talk about] and Shrek: Forever After, but he would also helm his own media, divorced from the ogre. 

There’s the 2011 prequel to the Shrek series, Puss in Boots, the six-season Netflix show, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, and of course, the subject of this article. The (at present) most recent film released by Dreamworks Animation: 

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Before I actually start discussing the movie itself, I should preface this by saying that I have never seen anything Puss in Boots-related outside of the main Shrek films. Not the original 2011 film, nor the Netflix show, or even any of the specials that feature him, like The Three Diablos. I have no connection to this little cat. Sure, I liked him in Shrek 2 and Forever After, but I never loved him, and I certainly have no sort of bias towards him that would artificially inflate my opinion of The Last Wish.

So, trust me when I say that Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is genuinely one of Dreamworks’ best films to date. It’s up there with Megamind, Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2, the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, Shrek 2, and The Prince of Egypt.

Let’s jump right in.

The film opens with the legendary Puss in Boots throwing a massive, glamorous party at some mansion in the seaside town of Del Mar. After a pleasant opening, however, the celebration quickly turns into a battle as the mansion’s owner, some George Washington-looking guy, returns home and engages our hero.

Puss deftly defeats him, but in the process, awakens a towering giant that wrecks the mansion and kidnaps multiple people who were in attendance at the party. Living up to his legend, Puss, through confidence, wit, and strategy, is able to save the prisoners and incapacitate the giant through use of a large bell, to the rapturous applause of the townsfolk.

This rejoicing does not last though, as that bell he utilized to defeat the giant slips from its hold, crushing Puss’ small form. 

Rest in popato chisps, my guy.

Thankfully, Puss isn’t actually dead, and he awakens in the clinic of Del Mar’s resident doctor. Remember, Puss in Boots is just that: a puss. He has nine lives.

Or had, anyway. 

From stampedes, to falling from heights, to getting shot out of canons; throughout the years, Puss has died over and over and over again. Counting the earlier death with the bell, he’s died a total of eight times, leaving him with one left and no failsafe should he kick the bucket again.

The doctor recommends that Puss completely retire from this kind of daredevil adventuring, even going so far as to direct him to a nearby cat rescue owned by a woman named Mama Luna, but Puss rejects this notion entirely. He’s Puss in Boots! Villain to some, hero to many, and undefeatable figure the world over. 

To retire just because he’s on his last life would desecrate the legend he’s spent his lives cultivating, and Puss defiantly storms out of the clinic to get himself wasted at the local milk bar.

But, as much as he denies it affecting him, Puss’s safety net is gone. If he dies again, it’s over. He really will die, and his legend will likely die with him. 

That underlying fear about his own mortality slithers its way into his thoughts and is magnified when, at the milk bar, Puss has the first of many encounters with an eerie, hooded, sickle-wielding wolf, whose appearance is heralded by an equally eerie whistle.

This wolf’s skills quickly overwhelm the already-shaken “legend,” evading and countering Puss’s attacks with terrifying speed. He even lands a slash on Puss, which not even the giant or George Washington could manage. 

This slash, while not dangerous to Puss on its own (all it really does is make him bleed a little), irreparably shatters his world.

In the scene directly before this battle, Puss was still trying to hold on to his impervious, cocky persona. Antonio Banderas does an excellent performance all around in this film, but I want to highlight this scene in particular, because his vocal delivery MAKES this scene.

In the prologue, Puss had this sort of deep, booming, smug voice. It suited him very well, as he easily overcame both George Washington and the giant. 

But, after his eighth death, his voice shifts just slightly. The deep, booming, smug tone Banderas delivered all previous lines with becomes noticeably faker and more stilted.

 It shows that Puss, regardless of the front he is trying to put on, has been unnerved by his sudden mortality.

It’s important to establish this, as whatever mask he was struggling to keep on is unceremoniously wrenched off him by this slice from the wolf.

In this moment, Puss is hit with the realization that he is not invincible. He is just as prone to death as the many foes he’s crossed swords with throughout the years. With this realization shoved to the forefront of his mind, he breaks, instigating the first of his panic attacks he has throughout the film.

The wolf taunts him, instructing him to pick up his dropped sword. However, Puss, still in a state of petrifying fear, flees to the milk bar’s bathroom, escaping through the toilet and its connected sewage pipes, leaving his iconic blade behind in the process.

Once he’s a safe distance away, Puss reluctantly swallows his pride and pulls out the note the doctor gave him, deigning to make his way to Mama Luna’s cat rescue. There, he digs a grave in the garden, burying all his gear and the identity they belonged to, feeling that he isn’t worthy of the mantle of Puss in Boots anymore.

What follows is easily the weakest part of the film. 

It’s a solid few minutes of Puss, renamed to Pickles by Mama Luna, defeatedly going about his new life.

In terms of how this scene displays his character at this point in the narrative, it’s great: Puss has cast off his passions and the things that made him happy, content to live a cushy, unsatisfying life, for fear of any more strife or risk in existing. At this point, he’s a far cry from how he was just ten minutes ago in the film. His fear has rendered him a shadow of a shadow of his former self, forgoing even the most basic hygiene, and his face is now home to a large beard.

But in terms of being an enjoyable scene, it really isn’t at all. It’s dreary and mind-meltingly slow, which isn’t super compelling to watch as an audience, especially coming from the high-energy the film consistently had prior. I respect what it does for Puss’s character, but that’s where my praise of the scene begins and ends.

It does at least introduce another one of the film’s main characters: an ever-cheery nameless dog that snuck into the cat rescue by masquerading as a cat. He does get a name by the end of the film, Perrito, which is what I’ll refer to him as. 

Perrito immediately gets attached to Puss, despite the latter’s apparent disinterest, talking to him whenever he gets the chance. Perrito is very sweet, and while he is a little annoying near the start, he solidifies himself as a loveable scamp by the end of the first act, and he makes for a good counterbalance to Puss and the other main protagonist’s jaded attitudes.

Back to the plot, one day, Puss’s mundane life is (thankfully) interrupted in dramatic fashion. The Three Bears crime family, composed of Mama, Papa, Baby, and Goldi, burst into the cat rescue in search of him specifically. 

This immediately brings the energy back up from the dip it had been at. With cats running everywhere, Papa playing the piano with Mama Luna stuffed inside, Baby crashing through things, Mama getting distracted, Goldi trying to rein them all in, and Puss commenting on and critiquing them, the scene is very entertaining.

After a minute or two, Baby does find Puss, or rather, what remains of his forgone hero identity. In the garden, the family comes across his self-made grave, and Goldi becomes frustrated. 

It turns out that the Three Bears had intended to hire our hero to help them steal a map to the Wishing Star, which has recently come into possession of the magic-obsessed pie kingpin Jack Horner and will be delivered to him later that night. 

Baby proclaims that he can do the job just fine, and with seemingly no other option, the family leaves the rescue to try whatever his plan is.

Puss had been listening in on their conversation from behind a tree, and for the first time since his encounter with the wolf, his charismatic demeanor returns. Instructing Perrito to dig up the grave, Puss readorns his gear, determined to acquire the map, reinstate his lives and his claim to legend, all using the Wishing Star’s power.

The scene shifts to the dingy fantasy-steampunk city where Jack Horner’s company is headquartered, where Puss spots two thieves leaving a horse-drawn wagon and bringing a large chest, which presumably contains the map, into the pie factory. Perrito suddenly appears, having trailed Puss all the way from the cat rescue, and gives him some words of support, alongside a stick he found to serve as a temporary sword.

Puss does an ඞ, navigating through the factory’s winding vents to make it to Jack Horner’s prized trophy room, where the thieves from before are handing over the chest. By sneaking around and using the many fairytale artifacts as cover, Puss makes his way to the treasure, the kingpin and the thieves unaware of his presence. 

Using his claw as a lockpick, Puss opens the chest, and gets his paws on the map to the Wishing Star.

 Until the stowaway that was hiding in the chest jumps out and takes it back, that is. The stowaway is another feline thief, and the film’s final main character: Kitty Softpaws. She’s Puss’s former partner in crime, and she’s taken aback by Puss’s surprise presence. There’s a little bit of a back and forth between them, and it’s very charming. She insults Puss’s terrible new beard; it’s great.

Suddenly, the massive stained-glass window at the back of the room shatters, revealing the presence of the Three Bears Crime Family. After everyone exchanges some pleasantries–they all know one another in some way–a nearby shelf packed with potions and some such falls over, forcing everyone out of the room and leading into a chase scene on the pie factory’s assembly line. 

While Puss initially has the map, having wrenched it from Kitty during the immediate chaos, she soon swipes it back and dashes to the exit, leaving him to the mercy of the Three Bears and Jack Horner’s goons. Puss uses the stick Perrito gave him to fend off Baby and Mama, but Goldi and Papa completely ignore his attempt at self-defense and knock him through the air, into Kitty and through a window.

The duo land in the thieves’ wagon, where Perrito is having a sandwich. Puss orders him to drive and the trio bolt out of the area, the horses bringing the wagon to the city’s exit at breakneck speed. 

Despite many of the city’s soldiers and Jack’s goons just a few feet behind them, and the duo’s arguing about a “Santa Coloma,” they’re able to escape by spilling a bag of gold to make the impoverished civilians into a blockade.

Though, this escape is not without the sounding of that eerie whistle, and the reappearance of the wolf. 

While he doesn’t attack or do anything to Puss in this scene, his mere presence establishes that the wolf is after our hero once again, and that he should watch his back. In response, Puss yells to Perrito to speed up, and the group is able to leave the city without further issue.

Once the trio has made distance between them and the city and made it into a mountainous deserty area, Kitty and Puss open the map. Instead of displaying an actual map, though, it shows a vague message directing them to the deadly Dark Forest. Despite the danger, the group continues onward.

While this is happening, the Three Bears and Jack Horner haven’t remained stationary.

The family has been chasing Puss, Kitty, and Perrito using their scent and Baby’s powerful nose. They’re hot on their trail, they’re literally in the mountainous deserty area already, and they’re absolutely not giving up until they get the map.

Jack Horner is a ways behind, all the way back in the city, but he’s been spending his time packing up an arsenal of magic weapons and tools from what remains of the trophy room–poison apple grenades, a unicorn horn crossbow, a scepter, a caged Phoenix, the “Eat/Drink Me” snacks from Alice in Wonderland, a crystal ball–pretty much anything he can fit in his magic knock off Mary Poppins bag. 

And yes, that includes the Phoenix. 

He puts the bird into a bag.

Bag bird.

Another little thing he grabs is the Fairy Godmother’s wand from Shrek 2, which is a really cute reference, gotta say. Using it, Jack transforms a pumpkin into a massive, tiered war machine, complete with troops, and sets out after Puss to get his map back, using the crystal ball as a guide. 

Cutting back to Puss, Kitty, and Perrito, they’ve arrived at the entrance to the Dark Forest. It isn’t some gate made of crisscrossing, sharp branches, though. It’s a sort of . . . gooey, sparkling portal, coated in a film. Despite their grievances and fears, the group dive in, but where they end up is definitively not a “dark” forest. Colors and brightness as far as the eye can see.

Confused, Puss takes a look at the map for guidance, and suddenly, the scenery changes before their very eyes. What once was a vibrant, seemingly peaceful forestscape transforms into a hot, aggressive, dangerous volcanic trail sure to bring death to whoever’s overconfident enough to try to trek it.

In disbelief, Kitty grabs the map, and the scenery transforms again. Though, it’s not any less deadly than before. The sea of magma disappears, replaced by rivers of acid, and the volcanoes to the sides of them retract, with gnarled, sharp trees taking their place.

After this, Perrito tries using the map, and the landscape shifts back to how it was before. Peaceful, pastel pastures, stretching from horizon to horizon.

The map to the Wishing Star is magical. It changes the terrain to match whoever’s activated it last, providing unique obstacles depending on their personal experiences, weaponizing their traumas and personal experiences to challenge and impede their quest for the Wishing Star, which is lying at the deepest part of the forest. 

Because Perrito doesn’t have the deep-seated emotional trauma that Puss and Kitty have, his route is by far the easiest to traverse, so Puss and Kitty give him the role of carrying the map.

Shortly after, the Bears drop into the Dark Forest. They’re still a ways away, but they’re far too close for comfort.

With them, Jack Horner, and the wolf in Puss’s case trailing them, the trio immediately get moving. 

Together, they journey through this magical, ever-changing forest and overcome the puzzles it has in store, in the process confronting their pasts, their fears, forming connections, and ultimately, growing as people, in a gorgeously animated feast for the eyes filled with high-octane action, a loveable, expertly juggled cast, and well-realized, mature themes.

The Last Wish is animated in a similar way to 2017’s Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse, but instead of that movie’s comic book aesthetic, the art direction in The Last Wish is reminiscent of a painting. Every single frame is beautiful, and when strung together, they make for stunning scenes that are utterly dazzling. The fight scenes in particular employ this sort of pseudo stop-motion kind of style, deliberately lowering the frame rate to add impact, and they look so damn cool.

Not to mention: COLORS. Yes, all colors, every single one, just in general. 

The Last Wish’s color palette is all over the place, ranging from gentle, soft hues to dingy, dreary greys and intense, striking colors. These varied colors, in tandem with the already gorgeous paintbrush artstyle, give the film a really unique look and enhance the tone of each scene greatly.

Also, Puss has a neck now. He never had one in any of his previous appearances.

But, now to the main event: The themes at the core of The Last Wish.

Well, actually, before I can talk about the themes, I have to go over the villains first. Sorry.

One of the most impressive aspects of The Last Wish is how it manages to juggle so many villains, in addition to its leads, without dropping the ball with any of them.

Goldi, the Bears, Jack Horner, and the wolf are all such enjoyable antagonists, and they all get adequate screen time.

Goldi and the Bears’ family dynamic is really sweet and realistic. Goldi and Baby argue and frequently bicker, but it’s clear that they love each other in a very sibling way. Her relationship with Mama is very adorable too, and seeing Mama dote on her daughter, and even other characters like Perrito, is just so sweet. 

The only member Goldi doesn’t have a particularly strong relationship with as shown on-screen is Papa, but we can infer that she has just as strong a relationship with him as she does the other bears. Her interactions with him are fewer in number than those with Baby and Mama, but, even as few as they are, Goldi and Papa’s interactions show how much he cares about his adopted daughter and vice-versa.

This really makes it hurt when everything comes to head near the end of the film and it’s revealed what exactly Goldi’s wish is: she wants a “real,” human family. 

The Bears are understandably taken aback by this, but it doesn’t devolve into that stupid trope and they leave Goldi alone, no. 

Even though they’re undoubtedly hurt, the Bears still love Goldi. She’s as much a part of their family as any of them, and they want her to be happy, even if that means not being part of her life anymore.

Ultimately, things do work out for the family and they become a strong quartet of secondary protagonists, but that doesn’t take away from this scene and the powerful emotions it violently smacks you with.

It’s a profoundly human moment, ironically enough, and it’s not the only one in The Last Wish.

Around the middle of the film, all three groups collide in the River of Relaxation, the second of Perrito’s zones. What happens is Puss goes into another panic attack from the hecticness of it all and the re-reappearance of the wolf, bolting off, leaving Kitty and Perrito behind and letting the Bears get their hands on the map. 

Perrito immediately gives chase and finds Puss, sprawled out under a tree, hyperventilating. 

It’s a great scene, and one you’ve probably seen even if you haven’t watched the film.

What Puss tells Perrito as he gradually calms down sheds some light on the nature of his and Kitty’s strained relationship.

The “Santa Coloma” that’s mentioned throughout the film wasn’t some sort of failed heist from years ago that they worked on together, as you might assume given Puss’s and Kitty’s occupations. 

It was the name of the church they planned to get married in.

That day, Puss left her at the altar, unable to find the courage to accept himself as anything other than a vessel for his legend: to accept himself as a person with his own needs, independent of the grandiose Puss in Boots identity he’d constructed.

After all of this is revealed to him, Perrito encourages Puss to apologize to Kitty. Instead of bottling up these regrets, he should tell her how he feels. Regardless of how she reacts, keeping this unresolved will only widen the gap between them and prevent them from moving forward.

Puss takes this advice, and as the group makes its way to where the Bears are to reclaim the map, he apologizes. 

It’s not some drawn-out scene where Kitty argues with him and tells him how much it hurt and berates him for even trying to make amends. We know that’s how she felt at that moment and probably for years to come, but, Santa Coloma is years behind them now. And Puss has grown since then.

Kitty listens to what Puss has to say, and she forgives him. 

Like with Goldi and the Bears, this scene is really great for Kitty and Puss as characters and is a great example of this movie’s deep understanding of its characters’ psychology. It’s also a big reason why the romance between Kitty and Puss works so well. 

It’s not shoehorned and forced; it’s natural, slow, and above all, human. 

Okay, that was a big detour. Let’s get back to the villains.

Jack Horner is by far the least complex villain among The Last Wish’s lineup, both in terms of his character and thematically. He’s an evil, power-hungry pie man who wants to use the Wishing Star to have all the magic in the world. 

That’s it. 

He’s not after the wish in an attempt to fill a void in his life like Goldi, or escape his mortality like Puss, he’s just a megalomaniac.

Jack doesn’t have a layered character that develops with unique struggles he has to grow past during this quest, or a tragic backstory that influences how he acts; Jack is just a horrible person in a very uncomplicated way.

But don’t mistake that for Jack being not compelling, absolutely NOT! Jack Horner is static and flat, yes, but he’s stupidly funny.

Jack blatantly disregards the welfare of his minions, often letting them die at pretty much every turn, he chooses to brute force his way through the Dark Forest’s challenges using his magic weapons instead of doing it the intended way, and he has this AMAZING dynamic with this Jiminy Cricket-like character, Conscience. 

Conscience is very genuine, and that clashes with Jack’s unapologetic nefariousness, leading to every single scene with them on screen being endlessly hilarious.

Conscience constantly tries to see the good in Jack, trying to convince him to not be needlessly cruel and uncover what exactly happened to make Jack into the megalomaniacal evil he is today. But, as you can imagine, there isn’t anything for Conscience to uncover; Jack is just evil for the sake of it, and he contrasts the rest of the film’s beautifully layered cast in amazing fashion.

Jack’s magical arsenal is also just a wellspring of creativity. All of his whacky fairytale tools and weapons, which, like the rest of the film, are gorgeously animated, are utilized in fun ways that make you wonder what exactly this guy has up his sleeve next and how he’s going to use them.

By far my favorite one is during the beginning of the journey, where Jack and the Three Bears Family have a confrontation. Jack reaches into his bag, attempting to pull out Excalibur, the legendary blade from the King Arthur mythos.

However, it keeps getting caught in the bag. After a few tries, Jack is able to get the sword out, where it’s revealed that there was a large boulder stuck to the blade’s end keeping it from being taken out.

Remember, Excalibur can only be extracted from the ground by someone worthy, and Jack certainly isn’t that in any sense, so, to acquire the relic, Jack just tore out the ground around where the sword was with it.

That’s amazing.

Jack is a really fun antagonist and is surprisingly imposing. He’s evil and he embraces it fully, and that makes him an utter joy to watch, yet also one who poses a genuine threat. His magical arsenal is very powerful, and underestimating him on account of his comically malicious capitalistic personality is a bad idea.

Jack is no doubt my favorite antagonist in the film, but, as much as I love him, Goldi, and the Bears, they all have their spotlights stolen from them by the third and final antagonist in the film: the wolf.

The wolf is the odd one out between The Last Wish’s villains, as he’s not interested in the map at all. He just wants to murder Puss, no more, no less. Here, I should probably shed some light on who this guy actually is, because his identity is a big part of the film.

The wolf is Death. Like, like actually. I’m not exaggerating, he says it himself at one point in the film.

Death is incredibly skilled, relentless, and absolutely terrifying. Whenever he comes on screen, The Last Wish basically becomes a horror film. And that whistle, OH THAT WHISTLE.

If you watch this film, I guarantee you will enter fight-or-flight mode whenever you hear someone innocently whistling.

Besides being intimidating as all hell, Death’s other major strength as an antagonist is how he ties into the movie’s primary theme: one’s own mortality.

Puss is running from death, in a very literal sense. He’s had eight lives up to this point, and he never, not once, appreciated them. Every single life Puss had was spent in service of his own pleasures, without regard to any of the people around him beyond their ability to assist or praise him.

And now that he’s down to his last, Puss is confronted with the fragility of life, and is forced to contemplate how he wants to live it in a way he’s never had to before. 

Is leading a life of safe, yet restricting comfort, never exploring anything new out of fear of death how he wants to spend his life on this planet? 

Or is risking that life, putting himself out there despite his fear, living a vibrant, rewarding life even in the face of his potential demise worth it in comparison?

This theme is beautifully fleshed out and explored throughout the film, and seeing Puss grow to find his answer, gradually coming to appreciate the people he has in his life right now, and that while, yes, death is inevitable, everyone Puss knows and loves WILL die someday, but that makes the time they have together NOW all the more valuable, is wonderful to watch unfold.

In summary, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a fantastic film. It’s a beautiful movie where all of its parts work together to make an unforgettable experience that, while admittedly takes a while to get moving, once it kicks itself into high gear, it’s truly remarkable, and I cannot physically recommend it enough. 

I went to see this film three days in a row after seeing it for the first time, and if that and the fact that I wrote an entire 4000+ word article on it doesn’t convince you of this movie’s quality, then I cannot fathom what possibly would.

Please, experience this movie if you have the means. You won’t regret it. Here’s the Amazon link:


Enjoy, and have a great day.