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Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is to be applauded for its taut storytelling and popping visuals but will be remembered most for one of the greatest animated villains in recent times.

Recently DreamWorks Animation has been using a painterly, at times nearly impressionistic style for its output. It has produced some spectacular, eye-popping results and it does so again in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Forget the obvious question of whether a sixth entry in the Shrek cinematic universe was necessary, eleven years after the previous chapter. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish fully justifies its existence, and not just for the formidable animation, which is a huge step up from the at times clunky visuals in the older Shrek films.

True, the plot about a Puss in search of nine new lives now he is on his last one goes exactly where you expect it to go - life lessons and character growth included - but The Last Wish has an economy to the script and a thematic coherence that feels like old-school, consumately professional filmmaking.

Too boot the picture introduces a villain for the ages in the wolf-shaped Death. The character is both charming and menacing, and the movie smartly uses him sparingly, so that when he enters the fray his ominous whistle injects even more fear, and even when he isn't on-screen his presence is always felt.

This doesn't necessarily make Puss in Boots: The Last Wish into a great film - it adheres too closely to safe, four-quadrant storytelling for that - but at least it's one that is surprisingly a lot better than I expected it to be.

release: 2022

director: Joel Crawford

starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh


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