By Guillermo Azabal
Los Angeles, Dec 20 (EFE).- Hollywood’s most brash and confident animated cat is forced to reckon with his own mortality in “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” a long-awaited sequel that serves up a serious message amid the swashbuckling action.
Set to premiere Wednesday in the United States, this new English-language spin-off of the Shrek franchise features Hispanic voice actors Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas and is being released more than a decade after the 2011 film “Puss in Boots,” one of the most lucrative productions of acclaimed animation studio DreamWorks, which Steven Spielberg co-founded in 1994.
In this new picture, Puss in Boots (Banderas) is initially riding high and reveling in his legendary, monster-slaying status until he realizes that he has already used up eight of his nine lives.
His only chance to recover lost time and avoid his definitive demise is to embark on an epic journey through the Dark Forest to find the much-coveted Wishing Star.
A motley crew of fairy tale creatures – including a wolf who reveals himself to be “Death” itself – look to thwart Puss’ plans, several of whom want to use the star for their own purposes.
Meanwhile, Puss struggles to come to grips with having had to humble himself and ask for help from his street-savvy, captivating love interest/nemesis Kitty Softpaws (Hayek), believing that in doing so he has betrayed his essence.
“My character is strong, independent and conveys the moral that a woman can teach a man to accept his vulnerability without that being seen as a defect,” Hayek said in an interview with Efe.
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” delivers a mix of comedy, action and an exploration of profound themes while also revealing a new side to the title character, who was introduced in the 2004 film “Shrek 2” and became an immediate favorite with movie-goers worldwide.
“It looks at the importance of forgiveness and surrounding ourselves with people we can trust, within a format that will be appealing to adults and children,” the Mexican and American actress said.
Banderas, for his part, told Efe that the film fosters an appreciation for the preciousness of life.
The rapport between him and Hayek, whose friendship dates back more than 20 years, shines through just as it did in the original “Puss in Boots,” which made history as the first major animated Hollywood production in which two Hispanic actors lent their voices to the main characters.
“The first film helped people understand that heroes can have a Hispanic accent and that the bad guys can be blond and speak perfect English,” the Spanish actor said.
The film’s commitment to the Latino community in the United States is seen once again in “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which features scenes with entirely Spanish dialogue.
The remaining voice actors include Harvey Guillen, Olivia Colman, Samson Kayo, Anthony Mendez, Wagner Moura, John Mulaney, Florence Pugh, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Ray Winstone.
The sequel has already picked up a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Animated Feature category and will now look to maximize its box-office take during the holiday season. EFE