StarDog And TurboCat (U)



SciFi (2019)
90mins UK

Starring: Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans, Bill Nighy
Director: Ben Smith
Writer(s): Ben Smith
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

In 1969, NASA scientist David chooses his own dog Buddy to blast off into space in an experimental capsule powered by a crystalline substance called hyperlithium. Shortly after the capsule leaves Earth's orbit, there is a technical malfunction and Buddy drifts into the void, frozen by the effects of the glowing purple power source. Fifty years later, Buddy thaws out in the town of Glenfield where stray animals are ruthlessly hunted by police officer Peck.

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LondonNet Film Review
StarDog And TurboCat (U)

Computer-generated critters put their best paws forward to re-educate beastly, uncaring humans in a misfiring adventure that fails to dig up genuine animal magic. Written and directed by Ben Smith with a laissez-faire attitude to dramatic momentum, StarDog And TurboCat cross-breeds elements of Superman, Batman and The Secret Life Of Pets to contrive a barking-mad battle for survival in a cosy American town where residents have been convinced that strays are dangerous and should be consigned to the pound...

StarDog And TurboCat. Copyright: Kaleidoscope Entertainment. Caption: Buddy (voiced by Nick Frost) and Felix (Luke Evans) in StarDog And TurboCat, directed by Ben Smith. All Rights Reserved.The catalyst for this mass paranoia is the town's only cop, who verbally references an incident involving his young daughter and a clawed creature but refuses to divulge specific details to rationalise the protracted stand-off between characters on two and four legs. The eponymous canine and feline, only one of whom is genuinely super-powered, bridge the species divide to overcome their predictable flaws (one slavishly chases balls, the other naps at the mere flicker of a sunbeam) and prove it is possible to live in harmony. Vocal performances are short-changed by an episodic script that almost fudges its convoluted emotional payoff.

In 1969, NASA scientist David (voiced by director Smith) chooses his own dog Buddy (Nick Frost) as the tail-wagging test subject for an experimental capsule powered by crystalline hyperlithium. Shortly after the capsule leaves Earth's orbit, there is a technical malfunction and Buddy drifts into the void, frozen by the effects of the glowing purple power source. Fifty years later, Buddy thaws out in the town of Glenfield, where homeless creatures are ruthlessly hunted by police officer Peck (Cory English). "He locks them up in the pound and they are never seen again," explains sardonic cat Felix (Luke Evans), who leads a double life as a caped crusader from a secret lair in the town's derelict museum. Buddy pleads with Felix to help him locate the missing capsule so he can be reunited with David. "TurboCat works alone, dog breath!" hisses Felix, conveniently ignoring his omnipresent robot companion Sinclair (Bill Nighy). Buddy's hunt for clues leads to the headquarters of the Glenville Underground Animal Rights Division (GUARD) run by liberated magician's bunny, Cassidy (Gemma Arterton). She suspects the hyperlithium could power a device to protect the town's animals and rallies her troops including scientist cat Todd (Robert G Slade), tactical operations goldfish Bullion (Ben Bailey Smith) and public relations mouse Tinker (Rachel Louise Miller).

StarDog And TurboCat is a hit-and-miss caper aimed at a very young audience. Animation quality pales next to the polished output of Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks and pacing careens from sluggish to breathless. "I learnt the hard way, there's no such thing as magic," laments Cassidy during one heart-to-heart. Spend 90 minutes in the company of Smith's film and you might think the rabbit has a point.

- Jo Planter

StarDog And TurboCat. Copyright: Kaleidoscope Entertainment. Caption: Buddy (voiced by Nick Frost) and Felix (Luke Evans) in StarDog And TurboCat, directed by Ben Smith. All Rights Reserved.


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