Ben Peyton checks out the newest animation flick on the block – Spycies
Directors: Guillaume Ivernal & Zhiyi Zhang
Starring: Kirk Thornton, Dino Andrade, Salli Saffioti, Karen Strassman, Lauren Alexandre-Lasseur and Jamieson Price
From the acclaimed animators that brought us Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets, comes the intriguingly named Spycies, an animal adventure crammed full of action and espionage, gadgets and gizmos with pizza and soap opera stars thrown in for good measure.
Set in a human-less, futuristic world where animals coexist, reckless super spy cat Vladimir Willis (Thornton) works for a secret Government agency keeping his city’s inhabitants safe from criminal masterminds. When a mission he’s leading ends up causing more damage than you’d expect to see in a James Bond film, Vladimir’s demoted and sent to an oil-rig to guard a mysterious substance. Here, he’s paired up with slobbish (well, he is a rat) technical wizard Hector (Andrade), but when the secret consignment gets stolen from under their whiskers they must overcome their differences to unite and save the world from extinction as this is no time to die.
There’s a terrific energy to Spycies with the action zooming from one set-piece to another with only the occasional dip in pace as the story takes over. The animation looks excellent with vocal performances to match and whilst there are some very funny moments, there aren’t quite enough to take it to 00-heaven. Some of the dialogue doesn’t seem to flow particularly well, sounding as if words have been lost in translation from writers Stéphane Carraz, Michel Pagès and Zhiyi Zhang.
But there’s lots to enjoy, especially some of the background action including an inspired piece of monkey-business and tributes to various action films including Die Hard and Iron Man. Friendship and love feature heavily as well as an extremely important message about climate change and the very real threat facing some of our endangered species if we don’t change our ways.
Spycies is a lot of fun with a unique charm and warmth flowing throughout. With a sharper script, it would have earned its license to thrill and taken it to an all time high.
Spycies is in UK cinemas from February 14.