Another week, another superhero movie. This time, it’s the turn of super pets. Krypto the Superdog appeared in 1955 as part of the ever-expanded Superman universe. Since then, Krypto has appeared in comics, animation, and the TV series Smallville and Titans. Now, the canine friend of Superman has its feature film, but to be honest, this isn’t something to scream and shout about. This cartoon is nothing more than a cynical opportunity to make money, as it does nothing to move the superhero movies forward or even animated features.
Krypto and Superman have been best friends since the Man of Steel was on Krypton, and the dog escaped the planet with the young child. Since being on earth, they have been inseparable until Lois Lane came into their lives, and Superman wants the dog to have friends of its own. When a hairless guinea pig called Lulu comes across a particular piece of Kryptonite that gives animals special powers, she kidnaps the Justice League. Still, she inadvertently allows a group of rescue animals have their powers. It’s up to them to team up with Krypto to save the heroes and the world.
Most superhero animation projects have been very successful. For example, the Lego Batman Movie and Teen Titans Go! To The Movies were absolute blasts and took the DC universe and shook them to their core. The same cannot be said about League of Super-pets. It has problems all over the place, and as you are watching it, you can see that this is more of a movie made by a committee than by single filmmakers. So let’s face it; the Justice League didn’t work, so who thought this would?
What are the problems then? Firstly the plot is a mess. It just doesn’t know what it wants to be. So does it want to be an out-and-out comedy? An action picture? A family-friendly morality tale? The comedy section doesn’t work. While a few gags hit their target, there are far more misses. Jokes about bodily functions seem to be the order of the day here, with one part about the joy of licking yourself!
But, as an action flick, it lacks any tension or peril. You know exactly how this will turn out and can predictably tick off which way it’s heading. Then we have the family-friendly morality tale. But, again, this is about friendship, loyalty, family, and looking out for those you love. How many times do we need these messages in animated features? It is willing to include a character who swears (which is bleeped out, but you know exactly what they are saying) followed by an overly sentimental speech about working as a team! Nauseating!
Does the overall look of the film hold it together? Not really. It looks more like an expensive TV series, which would probably work much better. While I am sure that younger fans of the DC superheroes will enjoy seeing their favourite characters in animated form, it doesn’t help with the connections with previous film outings. For example, when we see Superman as a baby, being joined in his spacecraft by Krypto, we get elements of John Williams’s music from the 1978 Superman The Movie. Yet there was no do in Christopher Reeve’s films. At least when Marvel does animation, they try to keep their story the same. DC have gone down the line of delivering a mass of origins tales, none consistant with the next.
Where DC think they’ve hit the target is with the voice talent. A collection of big names sharing their voices with the various characters. Sadly, this isn’t necessarily the case. Dwayne Johnson is the voice of Krypto, and the problem with that is you can hear it’s Dwayne Johnson. While his voice worked in Moana, it’s a dog with the voice of Dwayne Johnson. The same can be said of Kevin Hart as the voice of Ace, the rescue dog who becomes a sparring partner to Krypto. If you want Johnson and Hart together, watch the Jumanji movies.
The saving graces are Kate McKinnon as Lulu, with a strange eastern European accent who was allowed to improvise some of her lines as they become the funniest. The surprise is Keanu Reeves as Batman. So why hasn’t anyone ever asked him to play the Caped Crusader? He hits the mark perfectly without the gravel but with plenty of sarcasm.
This summer hasn’t been the best for blockbuster movies, so why would we think that DC League of Super-pets would be any different? Messy, brightly coloured nonsense that fails in almost every department, you’d be better off watching The Minions than this. It’s a real dog’s dinner.
2 out of 5
Directors: Jared Stern and Sam Levine
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Keanu Reeves, Vanessa Bayer, Nastasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, Marc Maron
Written by: Jared Stern and John Whittington
Running Time: 106 mins
Release date: 29th July 2022