DC League of Super-Pets (2022) ☆☆☆(3/4): Superman’s best friend – and his animal friends

Animation feature film “DC League of Super-Pets” is a delightful product which brings some lightweight spirit to its local genre territory. Unlike many of recent products from the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the film simply tries to have lots of fun and excitement with its numerous superhero characters from the DC Comics, and, above all, it will surely amuse and appeal to any caring pet owner a lot for good reasons.

In the beginning, the film quickly establishes its amusing story promise, which puts a little variation on the origin story of Superman/Clark Kent (voiced by John Krasinski). As many of you know, Superman was sent to the Earth when he was just a little baby, but he happened to be accompanied with his little pet dog at the last minute, and this pet dog, named Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), eventually becomes Superman’s trusted sidekick because he has superpowers just like Superman.

As they often work together for catching bad guys or saving the citizens of Metropolis, Krypto has been quite emotionally attached to Superman, and Superman does care about his canine sidekick, but then there comes a little issue into their private life. After having been quite close to a plucky TV news reporter named Lois Lane (voiced by Olivia Wilde) for years, Superman decides to go further in their developing romantic relationship, and Krypto is not so pleased about that – especially when Superman attempts to bring Krypto to a local animal shelter where Krypto may have some social experience via several pet animals living there.

While Krypto becomes more troubled about the future of his relationship with Superman, something unexpected happens. When Superman’s longtime arch-nemesis Lex Luthor (voiced by Marc Maron) attempts to capture a certain asteroid which may benefit him at lot, Superman and a bunch of other DC Comics superhero characters instantly come upon the scene and then stops Luthor in the end, but there is one little problem. A tiny piece of that asteroid happens to be acquired by a certain power-mad pet animal in that animal shelter, who has been quite determined to impress and then be recognized by Luthor because of their old relationship in the past. Once getting considerable superpower via that asteroid piece, this animal character soon goes all the way for capturing not only Superman but also all the superhero colleagues of his, and, despite their mighty efforts, Superman and his superhero colleagues are subsequently captured and then trapped somewhere in the city.

Krypto certainly tries to rescue them all, but, alas, his superpowers happen to be neutralized as planned by that animal villain character in advance. Fortunately, he comes across several animal pet characters who happen to acquire each own superpower via that asteroid piece, and he manages to persuade them to help his search and rescue operation, though it soon turns out that these animals need some coaching as struggling to control and adjust themselves to their respective superpowers.

While Krypto and his animal colleagues clumsily bounce from one narrative point from another, the film throws lots of silly gags and self-referential jokes to draw some chuckles from us. Although your degree of amusement may depend on how much you are familiar with those DC Comics superhero characters, the film diligently amuses us at least, and I particularly like the scene involved with a cute little kitten which turns out to be much more dangerous than expected.

In the end, everything in the story culminates to the climactic action sequence which surely serves us lots of bangs and crashes just like any other recent superhero movies, but this climactic part is still driven by its main characters and their personalities at least, and it reminds me again of why animation is relatively more suitable for superhero stories than live action movies. Besides having much more freedom in terms of style and movement, animation usually has inherent lightweight qualities, and that is the main reason why lots of mass destruction during the climactic part of the film is far less bothersome compared to those bombastically destructive action sequences of live action superhero movies.

The voice cast members of the film bring a substantial amount of humor and cheerfulness. While Dwayne Johnson deftly goes back and forth between humor and drama, Kevin Hart, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, and Diego Luna are well-cast in their supporting roles, and Kate McKinnon is terrific as gleefully demonstrating that superhero movies can only be as good as their villains. In case of several prominent cast members in the film including John Krasinski, Jameela Jamil, Marc Maron, Jemaine Clement, Daveed Diggs, and Thomas Middleditch, they have each own small fun at the fringe of the story, and Keanu Reeves is particularly hilarious in his deadpan voice performance.

Although it does not exceed its genre conventions, “DC League of Super-Pets” succeeds as much as intended, and I was entertained enough even though I was well aware of what I was going to get from it. I must point out that it is rather modest compared to “The Incredibles” (2004) and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), but it is better than “Justice League” (2017) and several other ponderous DCEU products at least, and I am willing to watch whatever will come next in the future.

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