StarDog and TurboCat (3 stars)

StarDog and TurboCat

Enjoyable, UK-produced animation, featuring the voices of Nick Frost and Luke Evans

'The greatest superheroes ever unleashed!' is the tagline for writer-director Ben Smith's UK-produced animation. Perhaps that's something of an overstatement, yet 'unleashed' is certainly the operative word, because animal superheroes are the subject of this feature debut from the Sheffield-based animation studio Red Star 3D. StarDog and TurboCat may not be the most original proposition, but Smith's film is elevated by first-rate vocal talent and offers kids an enjoyable alternative to US blockbusters this Christmas.

After a prologue set in 1969 establishing the bond between astronaut pooch Buddy (Nick Frost) and his owner, the narrative jumps forward to a future where the animal kingdom has fallen out of favour. Buddy finds an ally in Felix (Luke Evans), a rich, arrogant moggy who styles himself after Batman and has access to all kinds of gadgets, most of which misfire. They team up with rabbit Cassidy (Gemma Arterton) to fight back against their human oppressors and make a stand for animal rights.

StarDog and TurboCat is very much in the mould of Zootropolis, in that it creates an alternate reality in which animals take on human characteristics, but that big concept doesn't fit easily with the small-town setting. The world-building isn't as sophisticated as it should be, yet the delivery is smart enough, with Bill Nighy making an impression as robot butler Sinclair, and Evans bringing an amusingly laconic edge to Felix, aka TurboCat.

Indeed, TurboCat is the break-out character here; there are some nice gags about the psychedelic effects of catnip, and a throwaway line about how his fortune is based on royalties from cat videos on social media. The backdrops and character designs are fairly basic, but there's a smattering of wit that should help the film find its family audience. For Red Star 3D, it's a decent first crack at creating a fresh brand of animation.

Selected release from Fri 6 Dec.

StarDog and TurboCat

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • 1h 30min
  • U
  • Directed by: Ben Smith
  • Written by: Ben Smith
  • Cast: Luke Evans, Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton

Buddy (Frost) is a dog and former astronaut who finds an ally in Felix (Evans), a rich cat who styles himself after Batman. Not the most original idea (it’s all a bit Zootropolis) and the world-building isn’t that sophisticated, but a smattering of wit and first-rate vocal talent make it an enjoyable ride.