It’s the age of superheroes. There is no more denying this fact. From the MCU to DC even to a new breed of heroes from The Umbrella Academy from Netflix and The Boys from Prime Video. Superhero flicks are easily one of the most consumed types of content consumed today regardless of genre, shape, or form. DC’s most recent contribution is an animated origin story that centers on the furry friends of some of our favorite heroes from the Justice League — The Super-Pets. DC’s League of Super-Pets is now in cinemas all over the Philippines and we here at This Is Hype Ph took the time to drop our review of the film.
DC League of Super-Pets Review: An Overview
DC League of Super-Pets is based on the DC Comics superhero team Legion of Super-Pets. The film is directed by Jared Stern in his theatrical directorial debut. The film boasts a phenomenal cast of voice actors such as Dwayne Johnson who isn’t new to voice acting after his portrayal of Maui from the Disney hit film Moana and subsequently this won’t be Johnson’s only project with DC as Black Adam is currently wrapping up its production. Joining Johnson is his go-to partner-in-crime, Kevin Hart, as well as other amazing actors and actresses who are lending their vocal abilities such as Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, and Keanu Reeves, just to name a few.
DC League of Super-Pets centers on Superman’s super-powered dog, Krypto (Johnson) as the latter faces an internal crisis of letting his human best friend go as the former slowly transitions into his fast-approaching future together with Lois Lane. After an incident with a villainous guinea pig from Lex Luthor’s laboratory, The Justice League are captured, and it’s up to Krypto to save them and the entire world from utter destruction. Krypto then assembles a team of shelter animals consisting of a boxer named Ace (Kevin Hart), a potbellied pig named PB (Vanessa Bayer), and a red squirrel named Chip (Diego Luna), and the Red-eared slider turtle, Merton (Natasha Lyonne). Each of the animals possesses specific super powers which they must learn how to use individually and collectively as the fate of the universe as we know it is literally in the center of their paws.
DC League of Super-Pets Review: Spoiler Warnings
DC League of Super-Pets is by all means an origin story and therefore this review will as much as possible be free from spoilers. We will limit this review of League of Super-Pets to the overall flow and direction of the story, the voice acting skills of its main cast, and finally the quality of the visuals and animation.
Justice League Animal Version
The story of League of Super-Pets is pretty simple and straightforward at the onset as an animal version of the Justice League. In contrast to the source material, Legion of Super-Pets, this film’s character lineup has been altered slightly with the majority of the pet’s powers also being altered to have certain resemblances to some of the heroes in The Justice League such as Merton the turtle’s super-speed and Chip’s ability to conjure lightning bolts which mirror The Flash and The Green Lantern respectively. Due to these changes, the film has a somewhat predictable nature, especially towards the end but the choices of the pets for this film admittedly are created to add some humorous components. The characters for the most part are lovable to be quite honest as they balance each other quite well. There are admittedly some choices in the characters and their development that were taken too far for the sake of comedic relief.
The story as a whole feels however like a mere animal version of The Justice League. It almost at times feels like a multiverse story of a world where these heroes that we have come to know have taken the form of fury animals. This is seen in the superheroes and pets with evident resemblances to each other as well as the main villain even which is a naked guinea pig that looks and acts similarly to Lex Luthor. The interactions with the real-life heroes however are able to establish a different tone altogether. It has a somewhat symbolic direction to be quite frank like a modern version of Animal Farm minus the whole political discussions and mimicking. It does however have a very reflective nature of showcasing human qualities specifically that of our fan-favorite heroes. The creative quality of the film is also worth noting as the film also exhibits numerous literary devices and strategies that create depth. One such literary device exhibited is found in the chosen language that the animals use. The animals are coherent and understandable from the perspective of the audience but aren’t from the perspective of those in the film which in turn adds a situational irony to the film that is admittedly a clever treatment.
The film however doesn’t have to be analyzed this deeply as it is first and foremost an enjoyable and funny experience. The action aspects of the film are admittedly an exhilarating ride while still providing enough substance and quality to the flow of the story. The narrative takes several turns and sub-plots but for the most part, The League of Super-Pets is able to create a variety of meaningful themes such as friendship and the tensions that come along with the various seasons and changes in such relationships. As mentioned the comedic elements add flavor to the overall story but also reach its limits in terms of being a bit too over-the-top and corny at times. There are some references and mentions even to Marvel properties which at first are truly funny and interesting to witness but the film also had the tendency of overdoing them.
Johnson-Hart Tandem Has Reached Its Limits
One of the big selling points of this film in terms of its marketing style to draw in more viewers is the casting choices for Krypto and Ace — Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart respectively. The tandem has provided some amazing moments in the comedy, action, and adventure genre in the past from the Jumanji remake to Central Intelligence. I must say however that this partnership wasn’t all that great on the animation front. I was honestly surprised and disappointed with Johnson’s voice acting for this film. The portrayal of Krypto lacked the emotional depth that was required in this film and was therefore a big step down from his Moana role. This is also the case with Hart’s vocal stylization which for the most part was consistently monotonous.
There were actually far better showcases from the other cast members such as those from the characters of PB and Chip who were able to draw out more from their respective characters. It is a given however that voice acting has a specific and different skill and practice altogether and maybe their tandem can be seen in a better light in future live-action films but as far as Super-Pets is concerned it was a huge missed opportunity for the two.
Immersive Animated World-Building
All that aside, League of Super-Pets’s best feature is the animated and visual atmosphere that it provides. The stylistic choices are able to depict a mixture of visuals that appeal to both younger and mature audiences. There seems to be a familiar tone in the animation style to those seen in Megamind and the recent Scoob movie while also adding a stylistic treatment from animated superhero films. This balance of the two stylistic choices enabled a great way to combine different generations, as well as Super-Pets, has become a film that is appropriate for various ages and demographics.
The greatest feat that the film provides however is the utilization of the animation choices in creating a unified and expansive world for our heroes. The world-building is able to redefine and expand the existing world that fans of the Justice League and DC properties already know while also giving a very vivid, clear, and immersive picture for those new to such worlds. Metropolis is brought to life in this film with the usage of bright colors while mixing in darker and sepia tones that are often associated with the in terms of the character. These choices from the colors and straightforward animated techniques allow the story to take centerstage and ultimately create room for easy enjoyment of the film.
DC’s League of Super-Pets Review: Final Verdict
As seen in our review of DC’s League of Super-Pets as a whole is a film that is enjoyable and entertaining despite having a pretty straightforward plot that lacks real depth and emotional weightiness. The casting choices were done with a marketing perspective in mind rather than allowing Johnson and Hart to really steal the voice with their voices. The monotonous nature of the acting somehow pulled down the film’s standing at one point but the visual appeal still pulled it up in creating a worthwhile family film nonetheless.
Hype Meter: 6/10
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