Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish is an unexpectedly great addition to the Shrek franchise. The movie centers around Puss in Boots, played by Antonio Banderas, and the journey to claim the last wish to get his nine lives back after he finds that he is on his last life.
However, even though the movie centers around Puss and his struggle, the amazing villains steal the show. The three main antagonistic forces are Goldilocks and the three bears, with Goldilocks played by Florence Pugh, and the three bears Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear voiced by Ray Winstone, Olivia Colman and Samson Kayo respectively, Big Jack Horner voiced by John Mulaney, and a character referred to as Wolf voiced by Wagner Moura.
With all of these characters to juggle, it can be easy for audiences to lose interest in the story or wish that more focus had been placed on one group of characters over another, but the film performs a balancing act similar to Infinity War where all of the characters receive the perfect amount of screentime.
Goldilocks and the three bears have a very sweet family dynamic. As Goldilocks leads her family through the treacherous journey of obtaining the wish, the bears consider Goldilocks one of their own and will stop at nothing to help her. It is really interesting that many of the heartfelt moments come from the relationship between the members of this family, even though they oppose our heroes.
Big Jack Horner is a refreshing response to all of the sympathetic villains in recent years by being exceedingly evil in a way that is not often showcased in present cinema. His character is hilarious, and is certainly more comedic than threatening, but he embraces his villainy with open arms. The only criticism I have is that when he speaks, I can only hear John Mulaney, and that can be a bit distracting.
Wolf is easily the best villain in the film. Rather than being completely sympathetic or evil, it is implied that Wolf is only doing his job, even if he enjoys it a bit too much. He spends the movie hunting Puss with the intention to kill him, and this raises the stakes and adds urgency to Puss’ quest for more lives. Adding to this aspect of the movie is the fact that Wolf is absolutely terrifying in every scene he is in. Every time he is on screen, you are reminded that Puss is close to death, which is extremely bold for a kid’s movie. Wolf’s voice actor only adds to the character, delivering his lines in the most menacing way possible.
Each of these villains weave into the lesson that Puss ultimately learns about life and death, which happens to be a surprisingly mature message about the topic for a children’s film.
In addition to the unexpected maturity and subversion of today’s villain tropes, the movie is extremely funny, has excellent animation and happens to be nearly completely unrelated to the first Puss in Boots, so there is no need to catch up on the franchise before watching.
All in all, Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wishis a surprisingly amazing film that is well worth the watch.