“Puss in Boots” surprises with visually distinct animation alongside heartfelt story


Photo Courtesy of NBCUniversal

Puss in Boots surprises with its creative energy and a thoughtful story.

Joseph Ferrer, Arts & Entertainment Editor

There was little reason to suspect that a sequel to a throwaway spinoff movie from 2011 would be anything worth anticipating. However, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” manages to in a film that is not only incredibly more memorable than the first but also surprisingly thought-provoking with how it handles its story’s themes. Centering around the iconic orange cat voiced by Antonio Banderas, the film follows Puss in Boots who after riding the highs of life as a reckless hero, has found himself on the last of his nine lives. After learning of the potential to get the rest of his lives back through the use of a magical wish, he then sets out on a journey to find the Last Wish, along the way going against other fairy tale characters who are going after the wish as well. All of the cast members bring great energy and humor to each of their characters from John Mulaney’s performance as the stereotypical, unapologetically evil Jack Horner to Harvey Guillen’s Perro, a tiny dog with a hysterically morbid backstory that’s too oblivious to realize how hard his life has been with an easygoing, carefree attitude.  


Ever since 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” changed the industry with its unique, heavily stylized animation, more animated films have borrowed different design ideas to create their own distinct looks, and “Puss in Boots” is the next film to follow this trend. The film has almost a watercolor aesthetic reminiscent of fairy tale paintings. The character designs have also been reworked in a way to make them stand out far more especially with Puss in Boots himself. His expressiveness feels so much more amplified with his reworked design, and it accentuates the character so much so that seeing what the character looked like in his original appearances in the “Shrek” films feels muted by comparison. Similar to “Spiderverse,” action segments also typically have the characters animated in a different style where the lower frame rates of their animation help make each action pop out more and make more of an impact. The creativity of the animation team shines throughout all of the scenes from fights that follow in time with the music of live mariachi bands to environments with unique color palettes and vibrant aesthetics. “Puss in Boots” is another push forward for animated movies branching out into more creative, visually distinct styles.  


If there was any film to explore themes of mortality and the inevitably of death, “Puss in Boots” would be one of the last films I’d expect to see approach these topics, especially as a family-friendly movie. Surprisingly, however, “Puss in Boots” manages to explore these themes with its protagonist and villain in a way that feels legitimately genuine. The central core of the plot has Puss in Boots grapple with wanting to have more time to live no matter the cost. Throughout the course of the story, however, the film emphasizes the importance of having only one life to live, taking advantage of it to the fullest extent and not being afraid of when time eventually runs out. What greatly helps this is the incredible vocal performance by Wagner Moura as the film’s main villain, a mysterious bounty hunter wolf that’s easily one of the most impressively intimidating villains that an animated movie has had in a long time.  


“Puss in Boots” feels like a film that doesn’t have a need to be as good or unique as it is but rather than being another cash-grab of a family film, the movie manages to impress far more than the original ever did. While the film initially had a slow start in theaters over the holiday season, word of mouth of the film’s quality has eventually led to it making close to $400 million at the box office.