By Owen Glancy
“DC League of Super Pets” was released July 29 and is the latest animated film from Warner Animation Group, who created the “Lego” Movies.
DC has had a negative reputation in the past decade, but this film proves their year of hits is no coincidence.
The film follows Krypto, the canine companion of Superman, who is excellently voiced by Dwayne Johnson. He calls upon the services of a group of shelter pets with recently acquired superpowers to save the Justice League from Lex Luthor’s evil guinea pig, who has managed to capture them.
Warner Animation Group has proven that even if their catalogue can be hit or miss, their films always look beautiful. The unique character designs for the Justice League and Lex Luthor are great and the pets move very organically.
The interactions between the protagonists are easily the film’s greatest strength. Ace the Bat-Hound, voiced by Kevin Hart, is the straight man to Krypto and plays the part well. Their interactions are hilarious and, in some cases, touching.
The film’s antagonist, Lulu, is surprisingly effective as both a gag character and an intimidating villain. Lulu’s worshiping of her captor Luthor is funny, but it doesn’t really go anywhere aside from an obvious betrayal at the end. It really downplays both Lulu and Luthor’s characters and feels like they tacked it on in post.
Most animated films tend to struggle under the weight of a star-studded voice cast, but “Super Pets” rises above and makes use of it. John Krasinski and Keanu Reeves are brilliantly cast as Superman and Batman, respectively.
Superman’s aloof nature and boyish voice make him radiate a kind charm that makes Krypto’s jealousy of his love toward Lois Lane hilarious. Batman is more of a comedic side character than one would expect, which is initially very disappointing. Thankfully, Reeves' performance saves the shoddy writing.
The other pets, while far more one-note than Krypto and Ace, are memorable. This is especially true of Merton, a turtle with super speed who casually swears in a movie made for children. While this gag may be obvious bait for the adults watching the film, it still got a good chuckle out of me.
The fact that this is a kids movie serves as the film’s biggest weakness. Many action scenes and jokes feel tamer than what the writers wanted. Even the many references to classic DC comics and occasional adult vocabulary don’t make the more immature jokes any less funny.
Sadly, the plot suffers from this the most.
Many of the plot points can be guessed nearly an hour in advance. While the character writing is good, it doesn’t have any nuance. There are plenty of animated films that do this aspect far better, with one example even coming from “The Lego Batman Movie,” another DC film from the same studio!
This might be a minor complaint, but the members of the Justice League feel overly useless. They must lose to Lulu for the story to progress, but the way in which it occurs feels strange. It would make more sense for her to use her intelligence to beat the Justice League, but she beats them with a guinea pig army, which feels unrealistic and makes the League’s inclusion seem wasted.
Despite the repetitive plot, there are two scenes that stood out as being great. One is the conversation between Krypto and Ace in the Hall of Justice. The beautiful shot of the setting sun as Ace discusses his past with his owner creates a memorable and genuine scene.
The climax is also well done.
The Justice League and the newly-formed League of Super Pets fight a powered-up Lulu. While the actual events of the fight are generic and predictable, it’s still a fun scene with a giant ensemble cast.
“DC League of Super Pets” is still an entertaining and fun film, filled with great acting and animation. With the release of “The Batman” and “Peacemaker” earlier this year, “DC League of Super Pets” is another promising entry into an incredible year for DC.
B-: A surprisingly heartfelt flick