In trying to bring along concerns of the human condition, animated films have always taken center stage with highly stylized visuals that aim to take your breath away while at the same time boiling you up with a thousand emotions that fill the heart with warmth. Such a way of storytelling that is filled with surreal images of comically absurd characters and at the same time has, at a rudimentary level, universal emotions of love, anger, and jealousy allows the medium to delve into layers of thought that the motion picture could not reach. It is like arriving at the same station as the motion picture but with a journey filled with magic and fantasy which enthralls, captivates, mesmerizes, and at the same time manages to trigger the intellect. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” sets out to achieve something with its fresh computer-designed visuals and a cracker of a storyline. It is essentially a fairytale, something that the stunning visuals bring to notice as well as the choice of characters. Its frames seem like a painting that are supported by the different styles of animation employed to make it seem the way it does. It is not the kind of animation that wants to imitate reality; rather, it takes effort to augment realism to create an image that seems to have been taken from a comic book or a computer game. There are moments of sheer wonder just 5 minutes into the film with over-the-top action sequences that are choreographed in such a fluid way that it doesn’t just put you on the edge of your seats but fills you up with its many virtues.
Puss is a cat legend who is celebrated in all lands; everyone wants to get a glimpse of his filmy mannerisms while, at the same time, a bounty is put on his head by his enemies. While celebrating a recent victory over a giant monster drinking milk full of cream, Puss comes across a death hunter who threatens to take his life once and for all, as eight of his nine lives are over, and if he dies, he will not come back and be the same Puss in Boots. Shedding his arrogance at this deadly affirmation, Puss later understands the terror in the hunter’s appeal. He is devastated, and so begins an adventure of running away from death to reach the Dark Forest, where lies a wish-granting star, using which Puss wants to get all of his lifelines back.
Puss is a narcissist, and when the haunting reality that he is not immortal hits him, he is broken. Flashes from his previous lives come to him when he is cornered by the death hunter. Fighting multiple battles and coming to terms with the common existential reality, Puss feels weakened by the fact that one day he will cease to be the legend he once was. This becomes the philosophical curve of the film, brought together with a journey into perilous lands and conflicts with evil powers that also want to get the last wish. Then there are the three bears and Goldilocks, coming out of the storybook to revel in the world of Puss. They also want to get the last wish. What follows then is a conquest of the dark forest, which leaves thoughtful seeds along the way about mortality, friendship, and togetherness.
It is like a perfect picture book story with all the elements transformed into animation, and it works like a charm with the necessary plot points and conflicts that make the story engaging. The computer-generated animation gives the entire film an altogether different feel that supports the bravado of Puss and his friends. The entire journey to reach the magical wish-granting star is grounded in values that make us what we are. It reaffirms that we don’t need any other-worldly magic to excel in our lives. Magic exists in solidarity and is created by sheer love between our friends and family.
There is a shred of the human element in animation films that make them feel closer to our hearts. It’s like going to watch a fantastic tale of magical creatures but getting some life lessons along the way. It makes for a great story. “Puss in Boots” involves you with its wonderful world-building and then invites a dialogue on the meaning of life and its futility. It makes you think about the values of relationships through bears and grasshoppers and monsters. It does struggle a little in the second half to keep things going and seems to stretch its way to the end, but it nevertheless manages to captivate with an awe-inducing climax. There’s a certain stagnancy in the structural tendencies of animation films with clearly designed plot points, which somewhat makes them unsurprising with each of the twists and “Puss in Boots” mingling in the same territory. The element of surprise and awe comes majorly from the visuals and the way in which characters engage with each other, and it doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It will make you laugh and think and leave you with a guaranteed smile on the face as the credits roll over.