Fatal Fungi, Ferocious Felines, Fighting Ants

The newest in TV and movie releases.

Fatal Fungi, Ferocious Felines, Fighting Ants

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’, released on December 21, 2022, has accrued overwhelming popularity. The Last Wish has a star-studded cast, with Antonio Banderas as Puss, alongside Olivia Colman, Florence Pugh, Harvey Guillen, and John Mulaney. The movie follows Puss, a sword-wielding, feline bandit whose hazardous lifestyle finally catches up to him. On a quest to escape death, embodied by a whistling wolf, Puss, as well as a ragtag team of fairytale misfits, discover their true wish – which you guessed it – is family. After using eight of his nine lives, Puss experiences fear for the first time, resorting to domestic life at the home of a certified crazy cat lady. Garnering a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and grossing over 334 million dollars worldwide at the box office, ‘The Last Wish’ has surpassed the success of the original Puss in Boots. The phenomenon of animated children’s movies pulling in hordes of teenagers and adults is nothing new, as seen in the ‘Minions: Rise of Gru’. Both ‘Minions’ and ‘The Last Wish’ are spin-offs of franchises close to many Millenial and Gen Z’s childhoods, with ‘Shrek’ released in 2001, and ‘Despicable Me’ in 2010.
‘The Last Wish’ is visually captivating, and delivers the hallmark elements of a Dreamworks movie, erring on darker themes like death and abandonment. Using animation inspired by “fairytale books”, the action scenes particularly reminisce comic-style movement. Yes, you will find lackluster comedy as well as formulaic plotlines and characters, but it is exactly this mediocrity that many fans find comfort in. There are worse ways to spend 104 minutes, but you certainly could think of better.

The Last Of Us

The Last Of Us is set in the United States after a fungal pandemic causes a full-on zombie apocalypse. It follows Joel, a hardened survivalist who lost his daughter when the virus first broke out, and Ellie, a 14 year-old who is immune, and potentially humanity’s last hope in beating the virus. The duo cross the country to get Ellie to the doctors, who claim they can use her to make a cure, slowly forming a father-daughter relationship in the process.
The story was originally a video game developed by Naughty Dog and released in 2013. It was a smash hit, winning four awards and selling 37 million copies between the original and its sequel, the Last of Us 2.

The much-anticipated TV adaptation, teased years ago, finally released January 15 of this year, and immediately took off. The premier alone garnered 4.7 million viewers, and a second season has already been confirmed, even before the release of the final episode in season one. The ninth and final episode is set to release March 12.

Creating shows that already have an established audience is a fantastic idea, but it can easily go wrong. Video games in particular have a long history of adaptations that fall flat, especially in the eyes of the communities most looking forward to it. To combat this, Niel Druckmann, the writer and creative director for the video games, was deeply involved in the creative process for the series. While some changes still have been controversial, the majority of fans believe the TV show has only elevated the main story by expanding on elements that were more forgettable in the game.

In the show, nearly an entire episode is devoted to the story of how the doomsday prepper and the seemingly average Frank met and fell in love, the forces they had to face to keep their idyllic life, how they helped Joel, and how, when Frank falls fatally ill, Bill chooses to die alongside him. Ellie and Joel never speak to Bill in the show, instead finding a letter he wrote them, telling Joel, “I used to hate the world and I was happy when everyone died. But I was wrong. Because there was one person worth saving.” The stark change from the original storyline in the game, where Bill and Frank’s relationship is toxic and only mentioned in passing, serves to accentuate one of the most important topics and themes within the series: how love and caring for people is innately human, and how it persists through even the most dire of circumstances.

The show is heartfelt and at times gut-wrenchingly tragic, with humor sprinkled throughout to make it clear that even at the end of the world, humanity and love still shines through.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantimania

If there’s one word to describe this movie it is potential. Quantumania reeks of decision by committee, not surprising given that is the hallmark of Marvel’s house style. However, despite clearly being the product of a studio executive looking at the success of Thor Ragnarok and deciding to just do that again, there are moments when the corporate sheen breaks, and a much wittier and driven movie shines through.
While most of the jokes fall flat in the traditional overly witty marvel style, moments with Quaz, a telepath who is constantly subjected to all the dirty thoughts of the people around him got some genuine laughs. A standout bit in the film is the solid 5 minutes spent implying a past torrid love affair between Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet Van Dyne and Bill Murray. M.O.D.O.K.’s appearance, in comics the literal head of a terrorist group/megacorp and on screen a cgi-mangled mess of the villain from the first ant man, in the movie is a lot better if you look at it through the lens of a purposeful attempt at humor rather than a serious villain, but still not very impressive. Most of the hate this movie receives is due to a misunderstanding of the intent of the film, and is therefore unwarranted.
Quantumania spends a lot of time trying to emphasize the moral of the story: you shouldn’t stand by while people are harmed, even if it doesn’t affect you. We see Cassie get arrested for fighting police who were raiding a homeless camp and both Janet and Scott are offered the chance to get to go home if they help the villain, even though that will result in innocent deaths. The movie never fully executes this though, leaving the emotional plot of the movie to fall flat.
While this movie might be a good sign of Marvel moving away from its overly serious Avengers era into more creative stories, it gets bogged down by the constraints of being a “Marvel Movie” and an incredible over reliance on CGI. In the end, it’s a film typical of its property.


Graphic by Sylvester Gross-Hamburger