REVIEW: ‘DC League of Super-Pets’ Turns the Spotlight on (Super)Man’s Best Friend

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DC League of Super-Pets - But Why Tho

DC League of Super-Pets is a Warner Bros./Warner Animation Group film directed and co-written by Jared Stern, focusing on Krypto the Superdog (Dwayne Johnson). For years, Krypto and his owner Clark Kent (John Krasinski), aka Superman, have protected the Earth from all manner of threats while sharing an enduring friendship. That friendship is put to the test when Superman’s relationship with Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde) gets serious, leaving Krypto unsure about his place in the Man of Steel’s life. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) has drawn a large chunk of orange Kryptonite to Earth, attempting to give himself superpowers.

However, Luthor’s plan fails and the Kryptonite lands in an animal shelter, giving a group of pets superpowers. Ace (Kevin Hart) is now invulnerable. PB (Vanessa Bayer), a pot-bellied pig, can change her size. Merton the turtle (Natasha Lyonne) gains superspeed. And Chip the squirrel (Diego Luna) generates bolts of electricity. Unfortunately, Lulu (Kate McKinnon), a guinea pig that Luthor experimented on, gains her own powers and uses them to exact her own twisted plan for world domination. Krypto ends up recruiting the Super-Pets after Superman and the rest of the Justice League is kidnapped, and they learn to work as a team.

I’ve always felt that DC excelled in animation. Green Lantern: Beware My Power is a key example of this. Super-Pets manages to keep this trend going with a style of animation that falls somewhere between Pixar and Dreamworks’ styles. Men often have bulky chests and defined muscles, especially Superman. Women tend to differ in design; while Wonder Woman (Jameela Jamil) is tall and muscular, Lois is more slender. Most details, however, are given to the titular Super-Pets. Ace’s ears stick up like Batman’s cowl, the grooves in Merton’s shell feel like they have actual texture, and viewers can see tufts in Krypto’s snow-white fur. The battles are also impressive enough for a live-action superhero flick, as all manner of powers reduce streets to rubble and send bodies flying across the sky. These may be animals, but they’re animals with powers that could potentially crack the planet in half.

The voice cast, stacked as it is with talent, manages to get some good emotional bits in. Usually, when you have a cast full of celebrities, they tend to just…be themselves instead of inhabiting the characters. Johnson, who’s been guilty of sticking to one type, actually makes Krypto a well-rounded character dealing with some deep insecurities including the inability to connect with anyone who isn’t Superman. Ditto for Hart, who slowly peels back the layers of hurt surrounding Ace’s past. Luna’s delightfully neurotic as Chip. Krasinski makes a better Superman than he does Reed Richards. And there are even more surprises, from McKinnon completely embracing Lulu’s madness to Keanu Reeves playing Batman by approaching the Dark Knight’s brooding nature with his tongue firmly in cheek.

However, the script from Stern and Jared Whittington (Sonic the Hedgehog 2) is a bit scattershot. On paper, playing Krypto’s insecurities about his friendship with Superman against his relationship with the other Super-Pets, as well as Lulu’s growing obsession with Luthor, is a nice idea. After all, pets should have great relationships with their owners right? However, the end result never quite comes together despite their best efforts. Perhaps another pass at the script could have resulted in a tighter story and a better execution of themes. That being said, Stern and Whittington pack their script with numerous hilarious shoutouts to the DC Universe, including Krypto having a secret identity of “Bark Kent” and some sly jabs at the Marvel universe, including Luthor mocking Gambit’s ability to throw playing cards. The duo worked on both Lego movies, which held similar fast-paced gags, so it’s no surprise that they’d carry it over to another project.

DC League of Super-Pets has a solid premise and a nice animation style but it definitely could have used a stronger script. While it probably won’t blow away people as The Batman did, it’s still a solid entry into DC’s film stable. And it’s only the beginning of Johnson’s DC tenure, as he’ll be bringing Black Adam to life next

DC League of Super-Pets is playing in theaters.


DC League of Super-Pets
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

DC League of Super-Pets has a solid premise and a nice animation style but it definitely could have used a stronger script. While it probably won’t blow away people as The Batman did, it’s still a solid entry into DC’s film stable. And it’s only the beginning of Johnson’s DC tenure, as he’ll be bringing Black Adam to life next

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