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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Sophomore LHP Shane Sdao (38) reacts after a strikeout during Texas A&Ms game against Texas at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M infielder Ryan Targac (12) hits a walk-off single to run-rule Arkansas during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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It started with a commotion in the Texas A&M baseball dugout.  With the No. 5 Aggies up 13-4 over No. 3 Arkansas with a runner on second...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

‘Puss in Boots’: Old Cat, New Tricks

Puss+in+Boots%3A+The+Last+Wish
via Universal Pictures
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a nonstop ride of stunning visuals and endearing characters. The plot expertly manages to balance lighter ‘kid’ themes of companionship, family and humility with more mature explorations of loneliness, anxiety and even mortality in a manner both accessible and entertaining for all ages. Despite being a bit predictable, the film is undeniably satisfying and brilliant from start to finish. 

Readers beware — spoilers ahead.

Directly inspired by 2018’s “Into The Spider-Verse,” the studio made the wise decision to trade the smooth viewing experience of a high frame rate for the opportunity to polish each individual image. However, where the sharp angles and textures of “Into The Spider-Verse” sought to imitate the aesthetics of a comic-book, “The Last Wish” asks, “What if this movie looked like it was a fairytale painting?”

Beginning with a prolonged fight scene between Boots and a large stone giant threatening the local townsfolk, the movie wastes no time showing off its impressive art style. As night turns into morning, the town is bathed in wonderful shades of purple and pink, the Spanish countryside appears lush and lively and the characters bold, fluid and dynamic. Any one frame from the scene could easily serve as an aesthetic painting or poster. 

The visuals, however, aren’t just for show. In a simple, yet effective, exercise of economic storytelling, Boots’ dramatic flips, dances and boasting throughout the fight quickly establishes his own pompous and self-obsessed character. Upon defeating the giant in an abrupt turn of events, these very qualities result in losing one of his nine lives.

Boots then comes to the realization that he has squandered eight total lives, and is thus on his final one. The legend of Puss in Boots is at risk of being extinguished. In order to stave off death, Boots must travel in search of the mystical wishing star to wish for his nine lives back.

To do so, Boots must compete and ally with returning and new characters alike. Softpaws, Boots’ rival and love interest, makes a reappearance and adds a charming romantic subplot and foil to Boots. However, arguably even more interesting are the new additions to the cast.

Similar to other films in the Shrek cinematic universe, “The Last Wish” features creative re-imaginings of classic storybook characters. John Mulaney gives an especially humorous performance of a benevolent “Big” Jack Horner of nursery-rhyme fame, who selfishly seeks the star’s wish to hoard all the world’s magic for himself. In addition, Florence Pugh’s crime-boss Goldilocks, Goldi, commands a satisfying subplot which mirrors Boots’ own search for family and companionship.

However, my personal favorite addition to the cast was Death himself. Disgusted by Boots’ indifference towards his own mortality and failure to appreciate his many lives, Death stalks Boots throughout his journey, eager to claim his remaining life. Excellently voiced by Wagner Moura, the wolf casts a dark and imposing presence upon the entire narrative, even despite having relatively little screen time himself. 

“The Last Wish” is a narrative roller coaster in the best way possible. Each scene meaningfully shifts the tone and dynamic of the film. Boots struggles to maintain a budding relationship with Softpaws while on the run. Momentum is constantly shifting as new alliances are repeatedly created and broken. Who will get the wishing star? Can Boots outrun Death? 

While most of the plot is playful and lighthearted, it never shies away from sincere and even dark moments. The thematic elements are certainly overt, but never feel too heavy handed. 

Many will understandably write this film off without watching as a lazy cash-grab in a long line of subpar DreamWorks sequels. However, “The Last Wish” is proof that DreamWorks’ animation and storytelling is rapidly evolving. So watch out, Pixar!

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