DC’s League of Super Pets
Superman’s best friend leads a team of reluctant heroic animals to save the Man of Steel and the rest of the Justice League in Jared Stern and Sam Levine’s DC’s League of Super Pets.
Superhero movies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are dark, some are light, some are deadly serious, some are more comedic and so on. DC has carved out an impressive legacy with various stories in animated movie form. There seems to be a real freedom to explore concepts that may not be as easy to bring to life in live action that creative teams enjoy. DC’s League of Super Pets is a great example of taking something that audiences may dismiss as ridiculous and showing that the concept has legs, four-legged or otherwise.
Dwayne Johnson voices Krypto the Super Dog; a Kryptonian animal that looks exactly like a dog who smuggled himself in the pod with the infant Kal-El and has been his faithful canine companion ever since. As the film begins Krypto has concerns that his owner Clark Kent aka Superman’s (John Krasinski) relationship with Lois Lane (Olivia Wilde) may be developing to the point that he no longer needs his four-legged friend in his life. To mitigate this problem, Clark considers getting Krypto a friend to make his divided attention more palatable but the trouble is that Krypto does not mingle well with other animals. When Clark and the rest of the Justice League are captured it’s down to a depowered Krpyto to lead a team of reluctant super-powered pets to save his best friend.
Krypto’s arc is clearly set up and progresses naturally over the course of the film with an expected yet satisfying conclusion. It’s good storytelling to set up that Krypto doesn’t play well with others and gradually have him learn the value of teamwork, friendship and relying on the skills of others to accomplish a goal. Another lesson for him to learn is that Lois being in Clark’s life doesn’t diminish their bond. That’s a lot for one character to deal with in a short period but it develops naturally and the different aspects compliment each other perfectly.
Dwayne Johnson does a strong job voicing Krypto. He’s arrogant but in a charming way, warm, affectionate, effortlessly heroic and innately likeable. He successfully moves between light-hearted and emotionally intense dialogue delivery and his comic timing is used very well throughout. He is very much the lead but blends nicely into the ensemble without dominating it.
Outside of his owner/pet dynamic with Clark, Krpyto’s main connection is with Ace (Kevin Hart); a world-weary dog looking to escape his cage. He’s instrumental in teaching Krypto how to be a dog and helping him gain some perspective on assumptions he has made about his own life. It’s an engaging friendship and Ace’s backstory is incredibly moving. Ace is an impressively built character who acts as the heart of the story and there’s a great deal of depth to Kevin Hart’s performance to back up the strong writing.
The remainder of the Super Pets receive less attention but work well in context. PB (Vanessa Bayer) is an insecure pig with a size-changing power where self-confidence contains the key to mastering her new ability, Chip (Diego Luna) is a timid squirrel who wields electricity and Natasha Lyonne’s Merton is a speedster turtle with sight problems and a lettuce addiction. As a group they’re a lot of fun and each of them has a particular weakness they need to overcome to reach their full potential. It’s efficiently delivered and each character is neatly defined. They feed into Krypto’s arc wonderfully as well as contributing to a strong group dynamic in their own way.
DC’s League of Super Pets also boasts an excellent villain. Lulu (Kate McKinnon) is a deranged guinea pig obsessed with proving herself to Lex Luthor (Marc Maron). She’s hairless just as he is and hilariously despotic. Kate McKinnon fully commits to maniacal villainy and the writing never fails to present her as a credible threat. Her henchmen guinea pigs, Keith (Thomas Middleditch) and Mark (Ben Schwartz) are also fun when they appear along with a psychotic cat with weaponised hairballs named Mittens (Winona Bradshaw). It’s wonderfully ridiculous and the threat feels naturally connected to the story about heroic animals overcoming overwhelming odds.
The non-animal superhero characters are far from the focus but entertaining in their own right. John Krasinski is great as Superman and Keanu Reeves delivers an excellent parody Batman. Marc Maron also clearly has a blast chewing scenery as Lex Luthor. The nature of the plot means that those characters disappear for long stretches of time but they are used well when they appear and a natural part of the narrative as presented.
Visually, DC’s League of Super Pets is really impressive. The set piece moments are really well executed and the animation style lends itself to some staggering creativity throughout. There are some impressive visual touches that embrace the DC universe that the film lives in and the jeopardy is believable without ever getting too intense for younger viewers.
The storytelling is slick and a lot of care has been put into making an enjoyable experience for viewers of all ages. There are a number of clever references to DC lore both subtle and overt as well as a sprinkling of social commentary in the mix. It’s played for laughs but shows how layered the humour can be and is an example of the attention to detail evident throughout.
There’s very little to actually criticise about the film as it executes exactly what it sets out to do very well. One recurring issue is straining the suspension of disbelief associated with the animals only being understood when talking to one another but it’s far from a significant issue and only becomes noticeable at defined points. DC’s League of Super Pets absolutely accomplishes its mission statement and is far more than the sum of its parts.
An infectiously charming and visually impressive superhero story with strong characters and a lot of care put into every aspect. Dwayne Johnson delivers an engaging performance as Krypto and his character arc is presented well. Krypto and Ace’s connection is depicted well and Ace’s backstory is incredibly moving. The other Super Pets are engaging in their own right as well as part of the ensemble dynamic. Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of a deranged Lex Luthor obsessed guinea pig is excellent. The non-animal characters also work well. John Krasinski is great as Superman and Keanu Reeves is an excellent parody Batman. Marc Maron delightfully chews the scenery as Lex Luthor. Visually the film is impressive and the storytelling is slick. A lot of care has been taken to deliver an engaging experience for all viewers. A recurring issue is straining the suspension of disbelief associated with the animals only being understood when talking to one another but it’s far from a significant issue. DC’s League of Super Pets absolutely accomplishes its mission statement and is far more than the sum of its parts.
- impressive visuals
- slick storytelling
- Dwayne Johnson’s portrayal of Krypto
- a strong and well defined character arc for Krypto
- the Krypto and Ace dynamic
- Ace’s moving backstory
- the other super pets working well in their own right as well as part of the ensemble
- Kate McKinnon as a deranged guinea pig
- John Krasinski’s Superman
- Keanu Reeves’ portrayal of Batman
- impressive set pieces
- layered storytelling
- lots of care put into every aspect of the experience
- straining the suspension of disbelief associated with the animals only being understood when talking to one another
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