Movie Review – Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish

Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish was directed by Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado and released on December 21, 2022 by DreamWorks Animation. Rated PG, the movie is a sequel to the original Puss in Boots movie that was released 11 years ago, in 2011.

The star of the show is Puss in Boots, a spry and adventurous cat, originally from the “Shrek” movie world. Played by Antonio Banderas, Puss in Boots realizes that a bounty hunter Big Bad Wolf, played by Wagner Moura, is out to get him and that he’s on the last of his 9 lives. Puss makes a new and unexpected friend in a chihuahua hiding in a cat rescue and again finds his former rival and now girl-cat love interest Kitty SoftPaws, played by Salma Hayek. The 3 set off together to find the Wishing Star, thought to have the ability to restore Puss’ 9 lives. What ensues is a tale of adventure and overcoming obstacles as the trio make their way through fairytale lands in sometimes hilarious and sometimes frightening scenarios.

In my opinion, this 1 hour and 40 minutes is time well spent, especially if you liked the original Puss in Boots. While it is rated PG, there does seem to be some uproar from parents of young children not expecting the Big Bad Wolf to be, well, quite so big and bad and frightening. But overall, it was everything you expect from a tale of Puss in Boots in a fairytale world full of adventure and excitement. The outstanding graphics animation from DreamWorks never disappoints. It was even nominated for an Oscar at the 2023 Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film, so go see it before March 12, 2023, so you can decide for yourself if it was money well spent on a Saturday afternoon.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Animated Movies

Many people know the hit book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, written by Jeff Kinney. It’s a cult classic among playgrounds and elementary schools alike. Chances are that you, yourself, have read at least one of these books.

Then, in 2010, the first live-action adaptation came out. Grossing over 76 million dollars, it became a hit, spawning two more movies soon afterwards. There was also The Long Haul of 2017, but we’re not going to speak of that. Instead, I would like to focus on our star, Greg Heffley’s, newest adventure. 

The animated movies.

It started on December 3rd, 2021. The movie had been teased for a while beforehand, but it was that simple day that the world saw its true colors. 

The movie follows the same general plot of the first book, as our protagonist, Greg, makes his way through his first year of middle school. Greg is a scrawny, “wimpy” kid (hence the name of the book series), looking to ascend the ranks of the school hierarchy. With his best friend Rowley by his side, plenty of wacky antics ensue. Sounds fine, right?

Until you actually watch it. 

For some, these movies were seen as cheap ways to make more money off of a well-known brand. Many find the animation to be a significant step-down from most content of Disney+, where the movies are available. With the first one standing just under an hour, and the second one just over, people have suggested that maybe it should have been a short film, or even a TV show. I personally am happy with any new addition to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid universe, but I can see where many people are coming from with their critiques. What do you think?

Film Review: Persepolis

Persepolis film.jpg

This is a movie I watched a long time ago, and loved. It’s based off of the graphic novel

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and tells the story of her childhood in and out of Iran, before and after the Iranian Revolution that ended 2,500 years of continuous Persian monarchical rule and installed the government of today.

While I didn’t read the graphic novel, I find the movie’s animation style very interesting. It’s unlike anything else. The present-day is animated in color, but the important parts, the story of her childhood, is in grayscale.

Image result for persepolis movieWhat was most memorable, of course, was the fact that this is based off of a true story. Marji goes from an outspoken child to someone who suffers the loss of multiple relatives and friends, and sees her country constantly at war. Despite this, she does her best to stay herself.

As the new government becomes increasingly oppressive and systematically takes away human freedoms, she and her friends find solace in sneaking in Western rock CDs to class, wearing punk pullovers, and doing other things to rebel against the government. After standing up for herself in school, she’s sent to a school in Austria to keep her safe, which she loves but doesn’t quite fit in to. She jumps from house to house, each time meeting someone even more ridiculous, before ending up on the streets. After almost dying, she returns to Iran, where things are just as she remembers, but it’s her that changed. Marji falls into a deep depression, but eventually makes it out and vows to not let the people she love down. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of her troubles. Image result for persepolis movieBefore watching this movie, I knew little about Iran and Iranian people. But seeing the world from another perspective really has taught me a lot. I’ll remember Persepolis for the wonderful jokes, animation, and story (Does contain some adult content). You should definitely watch if you have time over the summer.

-Michael Z.

Persepolis is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Finding Dory Review

findingdoryOver the last 20 years, Pixar Studios has cemented itself as one of, if not the best animation studios in the business. This is due to their consistency and devotion to their franchises. One of the most successful of these franchises was Finding Nemo, which was a critical and commercial success for Pixar. After 13 years, the sequel Finding Dory has finally been released.

Set after the events of the first movie, it is now Dory’s turn to go looking for someone, with Nemo and Marlin to help. What I really liked about the film was that the characters still have the same voices after nearly a decade. Especially Ellen DeGeneres who reprises her role as Dory. She had a fantastic performance, making you truly care about Dory and her struggles. Marlin is as uptight as ever, and provides a great contrast to Dory’s recklessness. The new characters in the film are all well done also.

I found the film to be paced very well also, with fantastic writing and humor to wrap it all up nicely. There are some genuinely hilarious moments in this movie, more than I was expecting. At the same time, there are very heartfelt and emotional moments that stick with you.

However, one thing I didn’t like about the film was the lack of innovation from the first. It explored similar themes of family, forgiveness, and hope, and while different events take place, they weren’t as unique as I would’ve liked. After Zootopia, I would’ve preferred a less clichéd story along with some social commentary. But these are just small nitpicks for an overall excellent experience.

Finding Dory is one of the best animated films in years, bringing back everything we loved from the original and reminding us how great Pixar can be. Anyone who enjoys animated movies, is a fan of Finding Nemo, or wants to have a fun time should go see this movie. In fact, the last word of the entire film describes this sequel perfectly: unforgettable.

-Ahmed H, grade 12