Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the newest superhero themed animated film to grace the silver screen. This one, however, is a little bit different. Rather than featuring the brightly costumed characters that we have grown accustomed to, we are instead given the treat of seeing super powered animals at the forefront of the action, complete with pet-themed jokes and a ton of heart in Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the newest superhero themed animated film to grace the silver screen, DC League Of Super-Pets: much of which really surprised me with its delivery and presentation.
From the opening of the film, we are given an insight into the daily lives of Krypto and his owner, Superman, a relationship that this film uses to push the core conflicts and moral dilemmas. The flick feels fresh at first, taking us into a Secret Life of Pets-style romp, complete with witty dialogue and characterisation that gives us a hint of the protagonists that we’ll be rooting for throughout. Not long after, an evil, (by family friendly animation standards), guinea pig (that hates being referred to as any other rodent), captures the regular heroes and it is up to Krypto, the super dog, to rally together a rag-tag group of newly powered strays to save the day. It is these team interactions that push the morals of the story, each character learning to lean to their strengths, promoting each other through friendship and never giving up until the world is saved.
I really liked DC League Of Super-Pets for what it tries to do. The beginning act is strong and culminates in a showdown of epic proportions. It is filled with easter eggs and nods to the comics that will keep DC fans chuckling, and features enough for adults that they can still enjoy this film, as certain things go over the younger viewers’ heads. This is a family film at its core, and it never tries to be anything more than a good time, focusing on the theme of love and how love leads to a willingness to do something for someone, even if it hurts. It is a solid message here, and one that really fits in a hero film.
The voice cast, including regularly seen together duo, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, as well as the likes of Keanu Reeves and John Krasinski, bring three dimensions to the characters they play, making us feel empathy for them in their struggles. The score is strong and fitting, and the animation style, by the fittingly named Australian studio “Animal Logic” did an excellent job of making this stand out, despite some odd lip sync issues. The movement was fluid and strong and the use of cartoony squash and stretch added a flow from scene to scene that worked perfectly with the tone of the film.
The kryptonite here is the pacing. The content, whilst funny, feels padded and drawn out in places, especially in the middle third of the film, with a foreshadowed and extremely predictable finale, that in some ways, takes away the magical gold of the film’s start. This aside, however, did it serve as an escape from reality? A family outing that works to keep the kids entertained? Completely! I would highly recommend this when it releases, even if just for the jokes and animation quality. There is an appealing quality to every character here, and even if you find the story to drag, there are enough small references both onscreen and verbally, to rival the old episodes of The Simpsons.
I know that I would have to see it again in order to catch all of the little fan service nuances of this piece. Will DC League of Super-Pets stand out as one of the greats of animation, up there with the iconic, ground-breaking films of the genre? No, but it manage to capture our hearts and imaginations on this journey and take us into a mind of blissful joy, and in many ways, in the world that we live in, it is a film’s ability to transport us to this serenity, that really saves us.