A new breed of hero? – StarDog & TurboCat (Film Review)

Rating:

Buddy (Nick Frost) is picked to embark on a deep-space mission in 1969 to see how canines cope in space. But something goes wrong, and he wakes up in a dumpster in the present day; a place where pets are banned and animals are impounded.

Buddy finds he’s a wanted dog. Only when he encounters the “Dark Feline” vigilante TurboCat (Luke Evans) and his faithful robot Sinclair (Bill Nighy) does Buddy feel he has a chance to find where – and when – he is and locate his ship!

But all is not as simple as it seems. When the duo meet Cassidy (Gemma Arterton) who leads G.U.A.R.D, fighting for animal rights, Buddy and TurboCat must discover their inner hero if they have a chance to save pet-kind and discover the evil mastermind behind it all…

While this animated adventure may lack in that Pixar or Illumination or Aardman quality, it makes up for in heart and passion. A product of Red Star 3D (a Yorkshire based company) and the homegrown idea of Ben Smith of Screen Yorkshire (a Yorkshire based company), this is very much, yes you guessed it, Yorkshire born and bred.

Smith had a Kickstarter fund that took over 5 years to grow and hit the target. When he made it, the adventures of StarDog and TurboCat could begin. With Smith and the team having vast experience in making small animated features for British businesses, they know their stuff and have brought their debut feature-length animation to the big screen for all the family. If big kids can have their dark and gritty superhero films, why can’t little kids share the fun equally?

With a host of quality Brit talent lending their voices to the project, this has got real backing for home-grown talent and support of the industry which is great to see. All of our players have fun with their characters, but Nick Frost’s faux American accent as StarDog is rather off-putting for most of the part. It doesn’t seem to fit in with Luke Evan’s and his dashing, non-Christian Bale influenced Batman persona of TurboCat.

The attention to detail is light, and there’s very little “world” to be absorbed in, making you just take in what’s on show and nothing more. Don’t look for hidden jokes or visual gags because there’s not many playing out on screen when the characters take the lead with their silliness. And this is all silly fun for the kids, mind you. Being a debut project, this doesn’t have the developed heart of Pixar-Disney or the full-on detail of Illumination, nor the charm and emotion of Aardman, but that’s not a problem. This deserves to be applauded for what it is and where it came from. Smith clearly has the skill with his team to produce quality animation suitable for all ages with veteran screen actors lending their voices. And there are some nice moments within about doing what is right and being true to yourself.

It’s nothing special, granted, and nothing new, but it’s full of cheeky characters, zany action and slick animated fun that will please the kiddies for 90mins. Hopefully this will lead to bigger and better things for Smith and co.

Dir: Ben Smith

Scr: Ben Smith

Cast: Luke Evans, Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy

Prd: Ben Smith & Jan Rogowski

DoP: Adam Bailey

Music: Andrea Possee

Country: United Kingdom

Year: 2019

Run time: 86mins

Kaleidoscope Entertainment presents StarDog and TurboCat in cinemas 6 nationwide 6 December

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