Cat’s out of the Bag: ‘The Last Wish’ Raises the Bar for DreamWorks Animation

Movie Review

Cats out of the Bag: The Last Wish Raises the Bar for DreamWorks Animation

Josue Guinto-Veronica, Associate Editor

DreamWorks is rapidly becoming one of the best animation studios out there, consistently putting out some of the best-animated movies the medium has to offer. Even so, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” stands among some of the best of them. It’s been more than ten years since the last installment in the series, but this new addition picks back up without missing a beat. 

This time around, the story follows us in Puss In Boots’ journey for a wish. He has lost 8 of 9 lives and must find a wish in order to wish himself a new set of lives. And in order to get that wish, he must reach the heart of the dark forest while avoiding other wish seekers and a terrifyingly persistent bounty hunter.  Though it takes place after the first “Puss in Boots” movie and in the “Shrek” universe, it works on its own as a standalone movie. 

The last “Puss In Boots” movie stands in my memory as just an ok spinoff from the “Shrek” franchise. Good, but not particularly memorable. “The Last Wish,” however, is a genuine effort that shows what animation can be when taken seriously. 

This movie is a testament to the fact that the 90-minute movie format is still alive and well. Unlike many new movies nowadays, “The Last Wish” felt perfectly paced. There was no dragging of scenes to make the movie longer and nothing felt rushed to fit the timeframe. 

The most noticeable aspect of this movie is most definitely its animation, which is a mix of both 2D and 3D that somehow manages to mesh well enough that you can hardly notice the difference. The 2D uses a mix of cell-shading and brush stroke style that makes it seem like you’re staring at a painting, bucking the trend of the generic animation style that a lot of animated movies as of late have fallen victim to. In turn, the environments pop with so much color that at times they look Dr. Suess-inspired. 

The standout part of the animation, though, is definitely in the fight sequences. The movie is in the standard movie 24 frames per second (FPS), but the moment any action occurs, it switches to a more traditional looking 12 fps. The switch caught me off guard the first time it occurred. I quickly realized just how must better this improved the animation. It makes the fights far more impactful than if animated with the standard 24. It also makes the movement appear much faster since it forces your mind to fill in the blanks. 

The animation is spectacular but by far, the best part of this movie is the villain. There are many antagonists attempting to stop Puss In Boots, such as Goldilocks and her bears, or Jack Horner, but the most interesting of them all is the Wolf.  The villain is menacing and genuinely terrifying, which is unusual for a DreamWorks movie. His appearance on screen is always preceded by an unnerving whistled tune that makes it feel like the genre has changed from an adventure movie to a horror movie. The closer Puss In Boots gets to achieving his goal, the closer the Wolf grows. Every attack or plan Puss in Boots comes up with, the Wolf spoils.

The movie succeeds in making him seem like a genuine threat. This allows the story to work it explores the theme of fear.  As much as Puss In Boots portrays himself as a fearless hero, the most important moments of his life have been marked with regret and fear. The Wolf is the only opponent he has ever truly been scared of, which illustrates just how much the loss of those extra lives changed him. 

This is why I say “The Last Wish” is one of the best-animated movies recently made. It has a simple theme of overcoming a fear that children will understand and enjoy, while also having a different takeaway for older audiences. You will die and that’s ok, live each day to the fullest. 

DreamWork’s newest work succeeds in taking the standard formula of an animated adventure movie and elevating it to another level through the use of its characters. It actively resists many of the trends which have recently hit animation. It doesn’t dumb down the plot or characters to appeal to children, nor does it adopt the Generic CGI animated children’s movie look to it, proving that animation can be for all ages. I hope that DreamWorks continue with this for the next movie in the “Shrek” universe.