• Release Date: – 20/01/2023
  • Cast: – Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillen, Wagner Moura
  • Director: – Joel Crawford, Januel Mercado  

Gorgeous animation and fantastic voice acting complements a surprisingly mature and relevant story

— Ambar Chatterjee

The indomitable spirit of the daredevil, Puss in Boots is brutally caged when he learns after a fierce battle with a giant that he has expired eight out of his nine lives. He only has to die one more time to be dead permanently. It is at this juncture that his most fearsome adversary, a big bad wolf challenges him to a fight until death. Puss learns halfway through the fight that he cannot beat the wolf and escapes with his life sans dignity. He takes refuge at the house of an obnoxiously irritating cat parent and starts living out his days in misery. It is at this juncture that his destiny comes calling. He learns of the existence of a wishing star that can grant anyone any wish. Puss is determined to get to this star and reclaim his nine lives. Thus begins a whirlwind adventure in which Puss meets others with whom he forges unlikely bonds that not only redefine and shape his future but also teach him the true meaning of living.  

I absolutely adored Puss in Boots. The film is beautifully structured and that helps immensely in sustaining interest and enhancing intrigue. When I am watching a film, I generally let myself be played around my story, characters, drama, etc. I never pay much attention to the structure unless it is poorly done or it is as well done as it is in Puss in Boots. The story here gallops from one plot point to another and each and every one of these plot points is integral to the overall tale. The transitioning from one portion of the story to another is so smooth and organic that even though you will notice the change coming about, you will understand the reason for it and be able to foresee the direction and the next plot point where the story was headed.

The voice acting in the film is phenomenal. Antonio Banderas feels every emotion that makes up the character of Puss in Boot and is successful in transferring that to the audience. It’s not so much about the larger changes in the mannerisms and the emotional and mental state of the character but the little subtle nudges here and there that make the character real and his every emotion and gusto relatable. In the scenes that Puss shares with the big bad wolf (masterfully voiced by Wagner Moura), we truly feel the quantum of fear that has made its way into his heart post his knowledge of him being in his last life. This feeling is communicated as much through the visual representation of the character’s expressions as it is through the voice modulations. As the film goes on, we get similar poignant moments that are voiced with so much feeling that they convey the exact emotions.

Harvey Guillen as the voice of a dog who befriends Puss in his toughest times and quickly becomes a mirror in which he can see his true self is fantastic. Here is a character that is unbelievably positive and that positivity never feels fake or forced. Even the characters in the film point out the insanity of the positivity that this character radiates but the dog is oblivious and proud of how he is living his life. This character would not have been the same had it not been for the fantastic voice acting of Guillen. The same can be said about every other voice actor in the film who literally takes their characters to the next level. The voice acting contributes immensely to the rib-tickling comedy.  

The animation of the film is gorgeous. At this point, it is something that is expected from Hollywood but even with that in mind I couldn’t help but get excited at many junctures where the animation defied many of the things that we have come to expect from good animations and went a few notches ahead to transpose emotions of a character through visual wizardry. This is one of the most difficult things to do. Also, the animals are made to display human-like traits and mannerisms. While this is in no way realistic or believable, it does make the characters a lot easier to follow in terms of mood and characteristics. These visual cues are something that we associate with humans and we know what they mean. Thus, when we see a cat do the same, while it looks cool in an odd sort of way, it also becomes easy to accept the gestures and grasp the true essence of the action.

The animation style in the film changes subtly through different portions. There are even parts where the style of writing comic books and how the action is perceived and presented there is put out in the visual representation. The transitions between these styles are so fluid and organic that you never feel a thing as a viewer. It is only in your subsequent critical viewings that you notice them. What you feel and notice in the first viewing is that you love a certain sequence because of its animation but do not know why you loved it in the first place. It is only in critical analysis that you are able to put your finger on the actual reason.

There are some of the biggest life lessons in this film and most of them are put out most entertainingly and comically. Most of these lessons come from the character of the dog that just sticks around with Puss for no reason. As the film progresses, Puss learns to fight his own demons, start valuing the people in his life, become selfless and most importantly cherish what he has without looking for greatness and trying to be a legend. There is another group of characters of whom one learns the true value of love and family and how family and love can be found in the most unlikely of places. While all of this is heavy messaging, it is communicated in the most intelligible and effective manner. I am sure a large chunk of the messaging will stick because they are garnished with healthy doses of comedy and heart-warming dialogues.  

Puss in Boots is outrageously entertaining. The film literally gallops from one portion to another and every portion of it has action, sentimentality, comedy, and breathtakingly gorgeous animation that is aided by the nature of the content and more than anything the fantastic locales that we visit as the story moves from one portion to another. It is also a heartwarming tale of love, friendship, sacrifice, and an indomitable spirit that helps us tick through thick and thin. This is the kind of film that you need to see in theaters in 3D and on the largest screen possible with the crispiest sound. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is releasing in theaters this week. I urge you all to watch it in theaters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


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