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Antonio Banderas voices Puss in Boots in "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish." Photo courtesy of IMDb.

REVIEW: 'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish' brings back our favorite fearless feline hero

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” brings back the fan favorite legendary cat from the “Shrek” franchise for an adventure filled with delightful storytelling and nostalgia. A surprisingly satisfying movie, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” shows that Dreamworks Animation Studios can still produce films comparable in quality to the “Shrek” and “How to Train Your Dragon” movies of old.

With the spring semester starting up and the thoughts of graduating or simply moving on to the next year of college hanging over many of us, the movie helps one escape with a nice dose of childhood nostalgia.

The film follows Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), now on the last of his nine lives, as he journeys to the wishing star in order to wish for his lives back.

The recap of how he lost his previous eight lives had me crying with laughter, but the companions Puss travels with truly made the film for me. Perrito (Harvey Guillén), an optimistic chihuahua, is by far one of my favorite characters introduced by Dreamworks in a while. Though his relentless optimism is sometimes played for laughs, he represents someone who doesn’t let trauma beat them down.

It’s nice to see a foil to Puss, who has taken all the bad that has happened to him and created an emotional wall to protect himself. Perrito tells us that, even with hardships, there’s a way to keep a cheery attitude and help those around you.

The villains of the story are generally top tier with a frankly terrifying wolf assassin representing death (Wagner Moura) pursuing Puss and company. The animation style and direction of the wolf — such as in his signature whistle — creates tension and stakes that are sure to frighten the audience. Seeing Puss afraid especially raises the stakes every time the wolf appears on screen.

The secondary villain cast are hit-or-miss; Goldilocks (voiced by the goddess herself Florence Pugh) and the three bears make for an enjoyable B-plot focused on the found family trope that had me tearing up. A short cartoon series focused on them would be a satisfying spinoff for Dreamworks to create. However, the third villain I could have done without: Jack Horner (John Mulaney), a magic-artifact-wielding corporate maniac, felt like a throwaway villain. His main scenes were the only really “boring” parts of the film.

The film’s storyline is sweet and actually creates an arc for a solid chunk of the characters, an area where a lot of ensemble films like this can fall flat. The film is filled with more than just jokes geared toward a younger audience. Older members of an audience can find enjoyment in the film’s more adult jokes, making “Puss in Boots” the rare animated movie that’s not all about fart jokes with no substance or plot.

The two most enjoyable aspects of any animated movie for me are the actual animation and the soundtrack: “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” nails both of these aspects. The animation feels like a storybook, with lines to accentuate motion in a comic book style. Along with the gorgeous animation, the soundtrack by Heitor Pereira is killer. Three weeks after seeing the film, I still have “Fearless Hero” stuck in my head.

Puss was always one of my favorite characters in the “Shrek” franchise, and getting to see his story continue after all these years was nostalgic. The film is set after the “Shrek” franchise, but with a sprinkling of references throughout, it left me hopeful that there might be a new “Shrek” film in the works. 

Overall, the strong cast of characters, storyline, animation, music and pure nostalgia give “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” five out of five (wishing) stars, making it a good pick for a theater adventure. If you want to watch it for free, the University of New Mexico’s midweek movies program will be showing it on Wednesday, March 29 in the Student Union Building theater.

Elizabeth Secor is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @esecor2003 

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