Annecy: DreamWorks Animation Debuts First Half Hour of ‘Puss in Boots 2’

·3 min read

In what director Joel Crawford describes as an “action adventure comedy with a lot of heart,” DreamWorks Animation and Universal previewed the first half hour of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish onTuesday during the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The movie is the sequel to 2011’s Puss in Boots and spinoff of the Shrek franchise that debuted in 2001.

As the movie opens, the Antonio Banderas-voiced titular feline is beloved by his public and springs into action while simultaneously performing a song about himself. But after an unfortunate accident, he learns that he is down to the last of his nine lives. Sulking in a bar with a glass of cream, he is approached by The Big Bad Wolf, a bounty hunter, and is cut by the Wolf’s blade, which has a profound impact on Puss as he thinks about his mortality.

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Depressed, he retreats to Mama Lunas home for cats, which doesn’t suit the heroic feline’s lifestyle. Then one day, Puss overhears Goldilocks and the Three Bears (also bounty hunters in search of Puss) talking of a map guarded by Jack Horner to a wishing star. Puss hatches a plan to capture that wish.

“We always compared it to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” director Joel Crawford tells The Hollywood Reporter of that direction of the story, which took inspiration from fairy tales and spaghetti Westerns. “It’s this fun spin on these criminal, fairytale characters that are after the ultimate fairytale prize, which is the wishing star. Everyone’s got their own selfish kind of reasons why they want the wishing stars.”

The ensemble voice cast also includes Harvey Guillén, John Mulaney and Florence Pugh with Salma Hayek returning as Kitty Softpaws.

“We’re definitely taking Puss on a deeper journey, a more emotional journey,” says producer Mark Swift.

Crawford elaborates that while venturing into darker territory: “It’s still a family movie. Yes, it has edge, but I think it also has edge in comedy. I love telling impactful stories, but almost using comedy as the lens to bring everybody in. … We want the audience to leave with a sense of joy, an appreciation of life and a big part of that is laughter.”

He recalled the first time they pitched the sequel’s story to Banderas. “His reaction was, you know, we’ve all lived with a lot of death, and it seems like such a timely message, to really reflect on what makes a meaningful life.”

As the studio prepares to reintroduce the franchise to audiences, producer Swift says they wanted to give the franchise a fresh look thanks to advances in technology. “[The filmmakers on Shrek] were more limited to what they could do. We now have the chance to, I would say, update this franchise and without taking anything away from our characters, which people love.”

“We wanted it to feel contemporary. So from an artistic perspective, we really tried to take advantage of all our advances in technology to help elevate it,” adds production designer Nate Wragg. “You’re seeing mixes of painterly textures and slick gradients, and a whole lot more art on screen than we typically do because we’re not chasing a realistic image.”

The Last Wish is slated for a Dec. 21 release.

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