Dreamworks returns with a new license in the cinema. Did the Bad Guys manage to steal our hearts? Critical.
It’s been a while since Dreamworks has offered an unreleased license. Lately, animation studios have given us suites of Baby Boss, The Croods or Trolls. The latest novelty dates from 2019, with the pretty fable Abominable. This time, the firm changes register and plunges us into the heart of a vast adventure halfway Ocean’s Eleven and zootopia.
The plot follows a gang of criminal animals, who are about to pull off their biggest coup: to become respectable citizens. But the path to redemption is strewn with pitfalls, and a new antagonist emerges.
They will have to show their credentials to restore their image in society, and put this criminal mastermind out of harm’s way. To help them in their business, they can count on help that is unexpected to say the least. Wolf, the leader of the gang, will have to be wary of appearances more than ever.
For its new feature film, Dreamwork does not start from nothing. The studios have chosen to adapt a series of Australian comics, imagined by Aaron Blabley. An idea that germinated in the head of French director Pierre Perifel. After a solid career at Dreamworks as an animator, the filmmaker was entrusted with his first solo project.
An adaptation that aims to establish itself as Tarantino for children according to his own admission. But before hitting the box office, Pierre Perifel first had to make some changes to the imagery of the saga on paper. Exit the minimalist aspect, the filmmaker borrows from the pop universe of old cartoons, while using 3D technologies to build his visuals.
There was a before and an after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Bad Guys is its worthy heir. Dreamworks has understood how to exploit 3D to include it within a real artistic proposal, although different, the studio does not have to be ashamed of Sony.
A mixture of explosive genres and have must admit it rather effective. From the faces of the characters, deliberately unrealistic, to the sets of this very 70’s city, it’s a bit as if Funky Cops met zootopia. Chases in large cars, sequences of robberies, nothing escapes the sharp eye of the director. The visual promise, that of plunging us into the heart of a robbery film for the cherubs, is kept.
Moreover, he does not hesitate to feed his story with numerous references. There are camera movements similar to those of Ocean’s Eleventhe goofy aspect of the characters of Snap. A dynamic that works rather well between these little furry and scaly beasts. He doesn’t hesitate to knock down the fourth wall either, for an introductory sequence, literally… The film doesn’t neglect its light either, to build an atmosphere that is sometimes retro, sometimes neo-futuristic.
The Bad Guys also plays with visual elements from Japanese animation, to create a jumble of inspirations… inspired. A feast for the eyes, but not only. On the side of the soundtrack, too, Pierre Perifel’s film digs everywhere, and even goes so far as to offer us an original song, which should be remembered. After all, with this kind of production, the creation of an original anthem has become legion.
A jazzy score which is successful and which is declined over the course of the film. It is signed by the hand of Daniel Pemberton, to whom we already owed the music of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Nothing happens by chance…
Thieves who rob our hearts
But the most successful aspect in this animated film lies above all on the side of its narration. Without completely shaking up the codes of the genre, The Bad Guys stands out as an invigorating and touching dive into the heart of a thrilling adventure that has its share of surprises in store.
Through its characters, the new film from Dreamworks addresses the difference within a society plagued by prejudice. A story that will appeal to both young and old fans of animated productions. This effective construction allows the film to take us on board for almost an hour and forty minutes within its colorful and crazy universe.
We watched it in French, just to get an idea of the vocal performances of the different actors recruited for the occasion. There are beautiful people. Pierre Niney, who is not at his first attempt, brilliantly succeeds in paying homage to the leader of the band: Monsieur Loup.
As a reminder, it was he who lent his voice to Fourchette in the last Toy Story. He had also played Fear in the awesome Vice versa or even Doug in Cro-Man. He finds an actor and director he knows well: Igor Gotesman, the one to whom we owe Five embodies here an unscrupulous Serpent, with a look that is reminiscent of that of Johnny Depp in Las Vegas Parano.
Jean-Pascal Zadi (Simply Black), Doully and Alice Belaïdi (Hippocrates) are added to the list. A French cast that has nothing to envy to its American counterpart, with Sam Rockwell in the lead.
The Bad Guys hit the jackpot. While Dreamworks is preparing the return of an iconic character from its filmography, a certain cat with an appetite for boots, the film directed by Pierre Perifel reminds us that with a great story and a clear artistic direction, you can do wonders. It remains to be seen whether the public will take a liking to these little beasts.
In theaters, animated feature films are still struggling to do well. The pandemic continues to influence cinema attendance, even if the lifting of restrictions should give them some color. Disney for its part now prefers to reserve the cinema box for large-scale productions, such as Buzz Lightning who will come out June 22 next At the movie theater.
The latest Pixar productions, such as the excellent Red alert, will have to settle for a broadcast on the Disney + platform. Fortunately, Dreamworks arrives with its new production, which should brighten up the spring holidays.