Directed by: Jared Stern & Sam Levine
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Written by Nick McCann
Your favorite stars voice cute animals and fight crime. One can pretty easily picture how projects like this come about. In this case, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Dwayne Johnson already under contract with WB for the incoming “Black Adam” is tapped for another comic book movie universe before its release. Aesthetically, “DC League of Super-Pets” is decent-looking. Its animations are solid with an occasional striking image. I appreciate how the art style opts to be in line with older DC films. Most of it is appropriately similar looking to the Richard Donner “Superman” films, but they still pay fun visual tribute to the likes of Tim Burton’s “Batman” and the “Wonder Woman” TV show of the 1970s. Obviously, it doesn’t have the detail of something of a Pixar or Disney film, but it does consistently look “nice”.
As for the story, you can see each and every turn coming a mile away. It hits all the familiar beats you’d expect from a kids’ film. Although it can feel like at times they are lifting directly from other movies, namely “Cars” and especially “Toy Story 2.” The pacing also dies down in the middle. The brand and cultural referencing though feel slightly cheap. It bounces back though with a couple of very emotional sections that, at the end of the day, made this scribing pet owner appreciate their canine friend a little more. Good message about friendship and loyalty despite its familiarity.
The voice cast also does a fine job across the board. Dwayne Johnson is every bit as likable a personality as you’ve come to expect, just now in dog form. Although the writing builds him up too much as stubborn and irrational. If anything, the supporting characters are more interesting. This is where Kevin Hart surprises as the sidekick Ace. He’s got relatable history, and Hart delivers the… well the heart of the story. That’s on top of his usual comedy schtick. Kate McKinnon, Diego Luna, Natasha Lyonne, and Vanessa Bayer bring highlights as well. John Krasinski also makes for a good Superman and the scenes of him and Krypto (Dwayne Johnson) together reflect the man’s best friend themes nicely. Keanu Reeves as Batman is a sweet cherry topper, dead serious humor and all!
There’s a suitable amount of action that’ll hold attention. The tension isn’t developed well but the animation and staging of the sequences are nicely done. There are lots of effects, moving parts, and plenty of elements that make these battles lively. Steve Jablonsky also does a fine job with the score, going for a more classic superhero sound. I’d have liked more cues to stand out. It was nice hearing the occasional musical tribute to the works of John Williams and Danny Elfman.
For all the cliches and average areas, “DC League of Super-Pets” is an entertaining ride that’ll keep kids happy and occasionally amuse an older audience.
“DC League of Super-Pets” Trailer
You can connect with Nick on his Facebook and Letterboxd.