CAST: Tomás Ayuso, Julio Perillán, Stephen Hughes, Karina Matas Piper, Scott Cleverdon, Elisabeth Gray, Robbie K. Jones, Blair Holmes, Jeff Espinoza
RUNNING TIME: 84 mins
BASICALLY…: A young swordsman named Dogtanian (Ayuso) joins the Three Muskehounds to stop an evil plot…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
Although Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds was never a cartoon series I watched as a child, that character design of the small dog wearing the red hat and costume does stand out in the vaguest part of my memories (perhaps I had seen that design on a video cover at some point, but I don’t remember ever watching an episode). It seems that the main look for young Dogtanian, as well as that admittedly catchy theme tune, is all that most people seem to remember about that show, which I suppose is enough to stop it from completely slipping into cartoon obscurity (after all, I doubt that they would have even made this film if it didn’t already have some kind of built-in fanbase).
Even if you are more familiar with the show, however, this new version of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds is unlikely to leave you feeling nostalgic, or any kind of emotion as a matter of fact, for it is a rather empty and uninteresting family film that will only appeal to those under the age of 5, and leave everyone else fighting utter boredom.
A loose adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, this CG-animated reboot of the cartoon follows young Dogtanian (voiced by Tomás Ayuso) – obviously a canine version of original character d’Artagnan – as he ventures to Paris to fulfil his lifelong dream of becoming a Muskehound for King Louis XIII (Julio Perillán). He soon forms an alliance with three of the best Muskehounds in the city – Porthos (Stephen Hughes), Aramis (also Perillán) and Athos (also Hughes) – and even finds a squire in conniving mouse Pip (Robbie K. Jones), and soon they all take on the evil Cardinal Richelieu (also Hughes) who is plotting to throw both France and England into a war so that he can assume power over the King.
It’s hard to really say if this is any better or worse than the original show, because I really don’t have any memories of ever watching it, and from the few clips I have seen of it this movie does seem to have kept faithful to a number of things, from the basic character designs to the general inoffensiveness of the overall tone. Even the animation feels like neither an upgrade nor a downgrade; while it’s not the best CG animation in the world, it looks no less cheap than the 2D animation they used in the original series, which seems a lot more stilted and jittery than most other cartoons of this similar 80s-era style (they at least have a bit more freedom to move around more in this one, but not by much). For all I know, this is a dead-on adaptation that captures everything people remember about the cartoon, for better or worse.
However, unless you’re a very, very young child or an adult who still has some nostalgia for the original show, there’s very little to be entertained by with this film. I will happily admit that I was zoning in and out of this movie left and right, because there was nothing on the screen to hold my attention – whether it’s the very thin and basic storyline, or the characters who are all exceptionally one-note, or the flat humour, or even the action which seems limited by the small animation budget – but at the same time I was fighting to keep awake, because falling asleep would mean having to make time to watch this movie again for the sake of a fair review, which I was most certainly not keen on doing. It never got to a point where I was hating the film, mainly because I was just too uninvested to even conjure up an emotion for it, but it was such a nothing movie that I still felt like my time was being wasted while watching it.
If you’re a parent, then you’ll want to have your phone on standby to play with while your young kid absorbs more of it than you ever will. As a distraction for children, it’s not the bottom of the barrel when it comes to cheap animated movies, but at the same time you might as well sit them down in something that’s a little more worthwhile; put on Luca for them instead of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, because while Luca isn’t a patch on some of Pixar’s stronger movies, it at least manages to pull you in a lot more than this, which is nothing more than a cheap, throwaway family movie that, like the series it’s based on, will likely fall into obscurity soon enough.
I honestly wish I could get more mad at this film, because it did kind of waste my valuable time with an endless onslaught of uninteresting cartoon imagery, but I was far more bored than I was any kind of anger, so it’s really not worth the fuss.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds will appeal only to very young viewers or those who have nostalgia for the somewhat obscure original cartoon series, but anyone else will likely be bored stiff by its unengaging attributes that will leave you fighting to stay awake unless you have your phone on standby.