HENCHMEN, based on the short feature HENCHMEN III: SUITED by writer/director Adam Wood is now a full blown feature length Canadian/American co-production. The film is produced by Vancouver’s (Burnaby) Bron Studios in association with CW Media Finance. In the world of dog eat dog or animation studios eat animation studios industry it must be a tough try for Bron Studios competing with studios like Disney, Sony, Illumination and even Japan’s Ghibli Studios and Britain’s Aardvark Studios.
The film begins in the real world where a student on the way to school on a school bus fantasies while reading a comic book. He hates it when the superheroes win (even though in the comic, they are ridiculous as girly twins) over awesome villains like Dr. Shark Hands. As most lonely individuals do, they lean towards the dark side. Lester (voiced by TV’s SILICON VALLEY and the film ENTANGLEMENT) dreams of becoming a super villain called The Orphan which he invents himself. The orphan has no family, no friends, no one. He waits to become of age to become an apprenticeship villain in Super Villain City where he hopes to become a fellow henchman.
.A fallen henchman named Hank (James Marsden) leads a team of Lester and two others, called the “Union of Evil”, who must prevent Baron Blackout (Alfred Molina) from dominating the world. The crew are assigned to the Vault of Villainy, where Lester accidentally steals the ultimate weapon.
The twist in the genre of bad against good is a good distraction but one soon realizes that good has to overcome evil as Lester eventually saves the world against Baron Blackout.
The film’s humour is funny but also silly at times. “Any ‘baddie’ home?” and the constant rendering of the villain’s manic laughter on the soundtrack are examples. The funniest segment is the one with the villain in a tub out to destroy the good guys with his molten radioactive cheese, his mouth always overflowing with guck. Other sequences contain slapstick antics, but most come across as humourless in its execution. Think JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN.
The animation is not bad but not of the Pixar/Disney calibre, looking like something out of the old Tex Avery cartoons. HENCHMEN is comic book fare which means the animators need not go all out for realism like animating water, fire and shadows.
HENCHMEN like the TOY STORY films are targeted at male kids. The film clearly lacks female content. For one, there is only one female in the cast – that of Jane Krakowski as Jane. The story also contains no romantic element.
One cannot help but notice that Bron Studios and Wood with his crew of animators and artists have put in super effort and worked very hard for their animated feature HENCHMEN. The project itself was started in 2015 and took 4 years before completion. But unfortunately the results are mediocre.