In Sony Crackle’s new stop-motion animated special, SuperMansion: World War Tree, our favorite disgruntled superheroes must save the world from both ill-advised, tree-hugging scientists and the sentient warmongering sequoias they unleash. This ain’t your average Earth Day story. But then again, the SuperMansion and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios team ain’t your average storytellers. Always willing to push the envelope, from both a practical animation standpoint and a storytelling one, they’re not exactly concerned with being politically correct. In fact, they often go to extreme ends of the spectrum for big laughs; SuperMansion: World War Tree is a fine example of that approach.
Taking shots at half-hearted pro-environmental specials and black-hearted anti-environmentalist practices alike, SuperMansion: World War Tree finds the blue-collar superheroes of the League of Freedom caught in the middle of a possible war to end all wars. To save mankind and prevent vast devastation of the planet’s surface, Titanium Rex & Co. will have to find a way to fell unpunchable trees, try to preserve Black Saturn’s family legacy (ie, a leaky oil pipeline), and discover whether or not anyone actually liked Rex’s old Earth Day song, “If Tress Could Talk.”
After a lovely rendition of the vintage song sung by Bryan Cranson & Co., the whole special starts off with the aforementioned scientists screwing up an Earth Day celebration/oil pipeline protest by giving a trio of trees the gift of locomotion and speech. Great idea, stupid scientists. (I miss the days when scientist characters were actually the heroes, offering the solution to the story’s problem instead of being the cause of it, but I digress.) As it turns out, trees are kind of assholes, and they’ve long wanted a chance to even the score against the abusive human race. I can’t say that I blame them; we’re pretty awful. But an old ally of Rex who can speak to the plants–even the voiceless ones–rightfully proclaims that the chemical warfare carried out by trees (and other plantlife) would put even human atrocities to shame. But are the trees evil enough to slaughter indiscriminately? And is mankind worthy enough to save?
Those are the questions that Rex and Lex have to ask not just themselves but newly created characters like the Father Tree (Chris Pine) and Mother Earth. The answers they come up with (and their ultimate decisions) might surprise you, but as always you’ll have plenty of laughs along the way. Whether it’s American Ranger dousing himself in DDT as a hippie deterrent, Cooch unwittingly falling for a sentient tree, or Black Saturn actively working to destroy nature and protect his inheritance, the humor hits home. SuperMansion also continues to deliver, hands down, the best stop-motion animated superhero fisticuffs scenes out there today, an impressive feat the team manages to top each and every time they step up to take a swing.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Voice-acting stars Bryan Cranston, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Pine, Jillian Bell, Heidi Gardner, Tucker Gilmore and writer Zeb Wells will all return in the upcoming special. Guest stars include multiple-time WWE World Champion Randy Orton as Steelbark, Gary Anthony Williams (Boston Legal, Malcom in the Middle) as Liplor, Lauren Weedman (Arrested Development) as Mother Earth and Ryan Gaul (The Last O.G.) as Blades. Look for the Earth Day special to premiere, streaming for free on Sony Crackle, this April 18th.