Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Has some cool animation and basically nothing else going for it!

To be fair, I guess there's a basic-ass "the real treasure was the friends we made along the way" plot full of MacGuffin chasing and flavorless action sequences that don't really convey character or advance the plot. In that regard, the movie definitely blows its load early; the opening is a nice character (re)introduction and the initial encounter with Death works as a tonal shift. But I'm struggling to remember anything nearly as good after those two, which is kind of disappointing. Doesn't help that the final battle takes place on a featureless video game arena straight from a competitive Super Smash Bros. tournament instead of taking advantage of the movie's beautiful environment designs.

What really kills it is the unsuccessful mix of the Shrek franchise's usual fairytale farce and out-of-place therapyspeak sincerity. It's not that Shrek can't do genuine emotion – the mainline movies do it, just usually in a way that has something ironic or transgressive to it. But the franchise has now somehow gone full circle, and this is pretty much just a Disney movie with some fairytale parodies thrown in, praised on social media for its realistic, grounded depiction of a panic attack. Honestly, it's hard to imagine Shrek himself existing in the same universe as this movie, or at least the shameless sequel/Shrek 5 hook made me feel a strange feeling.

Well, guess a lot of furries on Twitter got to be horny for yet another animated wolf, which feels like a good encapsulation of the movie's weird relationship with the franchise it nominally belongs in. Like, is a Shrek spin-off sequel a movie whose characters you'd expect people to be horny for? Everything in those movies was ugly and off-putting as their fundamental thesis statement; it was a joke when the guys got turned conventionally attractive in Shrek 2.

Though Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is beautifully animated and competently, if plainly, written, the core question I just can't shake off is this: why? What is this movie even doing? What purpose does it serve in the year of our Lord 2023, having cast off so much of what gave the original movies their identity? Are the Intellectual Property mines really so empty that they had to dig up Puss in Boots, the character from the Shrek movies who previously had his own spin-off movie in 2011, for this?

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