What do you get when you fuse the world of Zootopia with the visual style of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and a narrative of Oceans Eleven? Well The Bad Guys of course. An engaging story and some fantastic voice casting, The Bad Guys is one of the few animated films that is trying to break new ground within the animated film industry.
The premise of the film is simple. Bad guys do bad things who eventually get caught and they have the opportunity to make themselves better people, or in this case animals. While the overall plot beats are engaging, the execution of the narrative and core themes are often messy and inconsistent. The snappy editing of its plot points are unbalanced as each beat and theme doesn’t have enough time to sit with the audience as it is rushed into the next plot point; this makes the film largely predictable. The reasoning of the team turning good was unconvincing, the main intention for them turning good is due to Mr Wolf telling them they have to. We all know being good is not a perspective, it requires time and effort to change one’s character from being bad to being good. But this is a children’s movie so I guess it’s not supposed to be that complex.
The voice cast is fantastic, Sean Rockwell, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos & Craig Robinson all did an excellent job as Mr Wolf, Snake, Piranha and Shark where their voices was almost unrecognisable, sadly for Ms Tarantula voiced by Awkwafina whose voice is instantly recognisable and disrupt the engagement of the film.
Visually The Bad Guys is clearly inspired by the visual style and aesthetic of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, as it utilises the hand drawn comic book artistic style to its backgrounds and the films more busier moments. This is let down by the lackluster animation due to the lack of detail and textures on the characters and environments. The artistic work in the film’s car chase sequences breathes so much energy into the film, the balancing of animation for the characters and the hand drawn explosions and backgrounds craziness to life as it really makes you feel as if you are a part of the car chases. The world of The Bad Guys is baffling at times, there is no explanation how the hybrid world of humans and animals came about and coexists with each other and isn’t fully explored throughout the film it’s also baffling how the main characters are the only creatures who are animals yet the rest of the world from what we see are humans. The film borrows elements heavily from Zootopia with the trope of predator animals being perceived as bad and ‘cute’ little animals being portrayed as good. Daniel Pemberton composed the score for the film where he wrote a few of the songs which are performed by Anthony Ramos. While the score is highly forgettable it does a decent job of capturing the heist vibe of the film through its screeching brass and horn instruments.
A breath of fresh air from the typical animated films you get nowadays, singing and dancing take a backseat in The Bad Guys as the core focus is on its group of bad misfits. The Bad Guys is the blueprint of an exciting concept which is underdone by its execution of the narrative beats.