Puss in Boots: The Last Wish ★★★★★
Starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Wagner Moura
Following on from the ever popular Shrek franchise and over 10 years after the release of the first Puss in Boots spinoff, the sequel to the spinoff to the sequels to the original has a different style and energy than we've ever seen before, as we watch Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) search for a star to grant a desired wish.
In the wake of great animation like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Klaus and The Mitchells vs The Machines, there's a great pressure that major players Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks haven't been able to compete with...until this.
Musical numbers, quippy humour, a sense of constant threat and an energetic pace lead this film to its whiskered glory. As is expected of the franchise, there are jokes in there that will go over kids heads and moments of peril and anxiety that resonate a strong heart and message at the centre of this otherwise fun, colourful, animated picture.
There are plenty of plays on feline stereotypes, with the central narrative detailing Puss is on his last of nine lives, and with a crazy cat lady and cute kitten face gags to boot (pun intended) it's relatable and utterly absurd.
There are several villains based on familiar nursery rhymes and fairytale characters that have a perfect balance of charisma and terror, creating outstanding fight scenes. A dual sickle blade-wielding wolf (chillingly voiced by Wagner Moura) is particularly terrifying; when you hear his whistle you know things are about to get hairy (again...pun intended).
Almost stealing the show is Perrito (Harvey Guillén), a bug-eyed therapy dog who disguises himself as a cat. Puss reluctantly befriends the dog and he adds just the right amount of childlike wonder and frantic energy to make the film sing.
This is unironically fantastic. Poignant and mature. Pure cinema!
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish available in UK cinemas now