DreamWorks’ most recent effort, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, continues a common aspect of the studio’s work that bests Disney’s modern counterparts.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish continues to provide evidence of a common advantage that DreamWorks Animation has over Disney’s modern animated films: villains. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a sequel to the original film and all four Shrek movies, and tells the story of the titular swashbuckling cat who has lost eight of his nine lives. In light of this, Puss searches for the mystical Last Wish to restore the lives he has lost over the years.
However, hunting Puss and Kitty Softpaws down are multiple enemies. From Goldilocks and “Big” Jack Horner to the embodiment of Death itself, the highly-acclaimed Puss in Boots: The Last Wish only continues DreamWorks’ hot streak of including excellent villains that outshine Disney’s recent modern efforts. While Disney’s classics remain all-time villains, such as Scar, Hades, Ursula, and Jafar to name a few, the post-Renaissance era of Disney’s animation has seen its villains overshadowed by one of its rival companies.
Puss In Boots 2’s Villains Are Highly Compelling
This only continues with Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, whose villains match the compelling standards of its DreamWorks predecessors. Beginning with Wolf/Death, the villain is made compelling thanks to the fantastic art style and sense of dread the character brings. In having the physical embodiment of death hunting down the main character throughout the film, a dark presence is consistently looming in the background, which benefits some of the film’s darker themes that elevate Puss in Boots 2 beyond the simple Shrek 5 setup. This is accompanied by a chilling whistle announcing his arrival, which is enough to send a tingle down the spine of any audience member, regardless of age.
The other main villain of the film, Goldilocks, is compelling for another reason. While Death’s imposing presence and fantastic voice acting enable him to be an unstoppable evil force, Goldilocks has much more sympathetic motivations. Her feud with Puss in Boots stems from the fact that both seek the Last Wish. Goldilocks seeks the titular mystical artifact in order to regain her biological family due to her status as an orphan, something that puts her above a typical one-note villain. Accompanied by a great vocal performance from Florence Pugh, Goldilocks continues to push Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’s villains beyond Disney’s modern efforts.
DreamWorks’ Modern Villains Beat Disney’s Counterparts
Other DreamWorks films outside of the Puss in Boots 2 movie in the last 15 years are a testament to this. For example, some of DreamWorks’ best efforts, the Kung Fu Panda series, are made so thanks to their fantastic villains. Tai Lung in the first film boasts the single-most impressive action sequence of the movie when he escapes from prison. With a sympathetic yet villainous backstory and great voice work from Ian McShane, Tai Lung already stands above the forgettable villains of Disney’s modern animated films.
The Kung Fu Panda movies continue this with Lord Shen and Kai, voiced expertly by Gary Oldman and J.K. Simmons, to provide three of the entire animation medium’s best villains. Even the films that spawned the Puss in Boots 2 movie boast some great antagonists. Lord Farquaad works in that he is incredibly easy to hate. Shrek 2 also introduces similar love-to-hate villains in the Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming, which are more memorable than the majority of recent Disney adversaries. Continuing this and boasting a beautiful new art style, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish only furthers DreamWorks’ modern domination in this respect.