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Combat Wombat: Double Trouble review – evil tech genius takes over pre-schoolers cartoon

<span>Dizzying … Sweetie (left) and Maggie in Combat Wombat: Double Trouble. </span><span>Photograph: Signature Entertaiment</span>
Dizzying … Sweetie (left) and Maggie in Combat Wombat: Double Trouble. Photograph: Signature Entertaiment

‘By analysing the digital behaviour of our users we’ve generated a profile as unique as a fingerprint,” says Lenny the chameleon, with a sinister mwah-ha ha in his voice, blue eyes intensifying into lasers. Lenny is a smirkingly evil tech genius dressed in a Steve Jobs polo neck and is the villain of this U certificate animation; it’s a movie aimed at really small kids, but with a wildly inappropriate plot. Like Black Mirror for preschoolers, it’s a tech dystopia involving the invention of a new virtual reality system that threatens chaos on a massive scale.

The movie is a sequel to 2020’s Combat Wombat, and there’s an unintelligible sequence at the start to introduce superhero wombat Maggie (voiced by Deborah Mailman) and her perky possum sidekick Sweetie (Ed Oxenbould). The pair have been baffled by a spate of big-time burglaries in Sanctuary City perpetrated by a bunch of doddering OAPs (the ageist stereotyping of the over-70s is pretty grim). For reasons that are entirely incomprehensible, the mastermind behind the crimes turns out to be billionaire tech inventor Lenny the chameleon, who has been controlling the perps with a small implant that fits in the ear. It’s all part of Lenny’s plan for world domination, trapping the city in his virtual reality alternate universe.

The movie hurls along at breakneck speed, a dizzying assault of sounds and smashy, migraine-inducing action. It looks cheaply made too; the characters’ fur has the texture of plastic, and some of the animals are nearly impossible to identify. But nothing is as mind-bogglingly baffling as the decision by the film-makers to give under-fives a lesson in tech-related existential angst.

• Combat Wombat: Double Trouble is in UK cinemas on 1 March, and Australian cinemas from 29 February.