After cheating death for an eighth time, swashbuckling adventurer Puss in Boots is advised by a doctor that he needs to start taking care of himself, now that he is on his final life. At first Puss brushes off the doctor’s warning, believing himself to be immortal, but when a bounty hunter shows up looking to claim a reward for his head, Puss has a change of heart.

Fleeing to the home of an eccentric cat owner, Puss puts down his sword, buries his boots, and prepares to live out his remaining years as a domesticated feline. Well, that is until Goldilocks and the Three Bears show up, looking to enlist Puss on their quest to find a wish-granting star.

But when Goldilocks and Co. fail to find Puss, the former hero decides he wants the star too, in order to wish for additional lives. Thing is, Goldilocks and the Three Bears aren’t the only ones looking to make a wish; corrupt pie specialist Big Jack Horner is also on the hunt for the star.

Teaming up with former lover, Kitty Softpaws, as well as new friend (and therapy dog) Perrito, Puss sets off on a quest for the star. However, his journey is filled with danger, and constant reminders of his own mortality.

Image: ©Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation
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Directed by Joel Crawford, and featuring the voice talents of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek Pinault, Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo, Wagner Moura, and John Mulaney, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is an animated adventure picture set in the Shrek movie universe. The film is the sixth entry overall, with the story taking place after the events of Shrek Forever After (2010), but as with 2011’s Puss in Boots this is a solo affair, so don’t expect to see all of the legacy characters stopping by to join in.

However, what you should expect to see is some damn good animation, some superb action sequences, and plenty of sight-gags and spectacle. The film also includes a great cast of characters, some sparkling dialogue, and one of the strongest stories in a Shrek film since Shrek 2 (2004).

To say that Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a good film is an understatement, as this is a marvellous adventure romp, which is heaps of fun from start to finish. It does everything right, is playful and mischievous in all the correct places, and I guarantee that audiences of all ages will love it.

If you were a fan of the first couple of Shrek films from the early ‘00s, but found yourself with a bit of fatigue following one too many sequels, then Puss in Boots: The Last Wish will reignite your love for this franchise. The whole thing is a breath of fresh air, which has clearly been put together by people who adore the material, and it shines through on every occasion.

Image: ©Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation
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There are multiple reasons why this movie works as well as it does, but first it starts with the story. While the plot may centre around the search for a wish-granting star, the story centres around Puss and his concerns for his own mortality.

Throughout Puss in Boots: The Last Wish there is an ongoing discussion about Puss’s fears of death. Having lived a carefree existence up until now, Puss has never had to worry about passing away, but for the first time in his life he can see an end point ahead and this scares him.

With this picture, writers Paul Fisher, Tommy Swerdlow, and Tom Wheeler, craft a story which not only puts Puss in genuine danger, but also makes him contemplate his own existence. In doing this, they add a great deal of depth to his character, and introduce a harsh reality, and a darker edge to proceedings.

Had the film focused solely on wish fulfilment, then it might have been fun, possibly even touching, but it wouldn’t have felt so fleshed out and real. By openly talking about death, and accepting what fate has in store for all of us, the movie moves up a level and becomes something more.

Image: ©Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation
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With such a strong story, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish needs equally strong animation, and I’m pleased to say it has it in spades. This isn’t just a delightful looking animated movie, it is a stunning piece of artwork.

Taking cues from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), DreamWorks Animation raises the bar for the Shrek series with Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Every frame of this movie is beautiful to look at, and once again you can feel the love, care, and attention to detail that is painted into every frame.

The action sequences are filled with energy, the tender moments are heartfelt, and the colours simply pop off the screen. Every scene moves in a fluid motion, and there is now a richness and depth in this universe that simply wasn’t there before.

Image: ©Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation
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In addition to the above, the film also boasts a fantastic collection of characters, starting with the ever-adorable Puss himself. You don’t need me to tell you that Antonio Banderas was born to play this role, you’ve known this ever since he began voicing Puss in Shrek 2, but this film is another reminder of just how great he is in this part.

With every word, Puss commands the screen and you can’t help but laugh with him, have fun with him, and fall in love with him. Banderas brings charisma to the role of Puss – the same charisma he displayed in the Zorro movies – and it is something special, which not all actors share.

Joining Banderas there are key roles for Salma Hayek Pinault and Harvey Guillén as Kitty Softpaws and Perrito respectively, as well as some fun parts for Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, and Samson Kayo. Wagner Moura meanwhile gets some superb scenes as a persistent bounty hunter, while John Mulaney gets to ham it up as Big Jack Horner, a self-centred man-baby who bears a striking resemblance to a former UK Prime Minister.

Add to all this, there is plenty of humour, lots of magic and adventure, as well as a couple of nods to the wider universe. Kids will love it, adults will too, and only those with cold hearts, no imagination, or people who believe they resemble Big Jack Horner, will think otherwise.

Image: ©Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation
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Puss in Boots: The Last Wish arrives in UK cinemas on Friday February 3rd. The film was released in the US back in December, where it is still on general release, and continues to do great business.

Go see it. And if you’ve got kids, take them along too.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.

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