Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Since it was announced, the live-action Kim Possible received a lot of scrutiny by many long time fans of the show. Things didn’t get much better when the trailers and sneak peeks came out as it looked more like a bad spoof. Now that the movie has come out, would fans be proven wrong? Well I can safely say that while it wasn’t as horrid as it was made out to be, it’s still not very good.
The story involves Kim (Sadie Stanley) and her best friend Ron (Sean Giamborne) entering their first day of high school. As Kim struggles to navigate through the various pressures that high school provides, she and Ron befriend a new student named Athena (Ciara Riley Wilson). With her and Ron’s help, Kim works to stop the evil plan of Dr. Drakken (Todd Stashwick) and his sidekick Shego (Taylor Ortega).
Some might view this as a prequel since it has Kim and Ron starting high school and Ron meeting Rufus but it very much takes place in its own world as ignores (and alters) several established origins.
The story starts off by establishing Kim as a perfect hero who is seemingly able to handle everything. Of course she would be proven wrong once she entered Middleton High due to Mr. Barkin’s (Michael P. Northney) crabbiness and of course Athena saving her and Ron from a tank of electric eels leading to Athena being seen far more a hero than she is. This could have been an ingenious time to go into the affect this might have on Kim and Ron’s friendship or discussing this matter with her family, which could give better insight to Kim’s bond with them but the movie rarely explores that outside of Kim’s grandmother (Connie Ray). It was surprising to see Kim have a bit of a breakdown but everything else is rather predictable. It leads to Drakken and Shego attacking at a school assembly resulting in Kim making an incredibly selfish decision as she risks Athena’s safety out of a desperate need to be a hero. This made Kim look extremely unlikable, as there’s only a couple of minutes leading up to it and it lacks subtlety. The movie gives little time to dwell on this before Kim realizes her mistake and sets out to rescue Athena. There’s also a twist regarding who Athena is but anyone who’s watched enough movies can probably figure it out in the first couple minutes. The movie has a good message about what it means to be a good friend and how no one can handle anything, but it suffers in its pacing and execution.
Kim and Ron’s high school woes are addressed but are dashed out the window once we’re introduced to Athena. This leads to the movie’s second big problem, which is what lies in most DCOMs, which is the attempt to be “with it.” Some of the jokes work like with Kim calling her mom and grandmother the Golden Girls, Shego mocking Drakken, Mr. Barkin claiming a teacher is on eternity leave, or Ron wondering how Kim manages to change into her mission outfit so fast but then you have them incorporating things like selfies and the popularity of Instagram which really feel rather cheesy. This movie’s rendition of the classic theme song in the opening was all right but the rest of the music feels dated.
In regards to the CGI, some of it like with Rufus is passable enough by DCOM standards. But the other effects such as Shego’s blasts look rather cheap. The original series however, was well known for its action. And here the action is somewhat underwhelming. But that primarily comes from being live-action DCOM. There’s not nearly enough budget to make the action the best it can be. Sometimes they would cut to a wide shot to hide the fact that they were using stunt doubles and it would show. The truth of the matter is with the original being animated, there was just so much more to explore with the action with all the movements
Finally there are the characters and the performances. Perhaps the greatest thing about this movie was Sean Giambrone as Ron Stoppable. His Ron impression perfectly captures the weirdness and desire to be different from everyone else. His performance very much feels like the classic character. As I stated before, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the movie trying to be with it with all sorts of modern trends and technology but the idea of Ron doing live feeds of his and Kim’s first day at school is one of the few times where it worked as it felt very much like what the classic Ron would do.
In regards to Sadie Stanley as Kim, it felt that they were trying to make her too confident and likable. The original Kim was also bold and headstrong but she had her own share of social and school insecurities, which would lead to some legitimate moments of self-doubt. And that’s what made the original character likable. The movie doesn’t explore too much on this before Drakken and Shego’s attack. For instance the interactions between Bonnie and Kim are far too friendly. It seems like they are trying to establish a rivalry but the frenemy-like relationship made it lose its impact. Also it seemed like she was a tad too reliant on Wade. Wade here is mostly relegated to giving Kim information in her missions and doesn’t have much bond with Kim or Ron. In the original Kim often relied on Wade but in the midst of missions she only called upon him in a tight spot.
Characters like Kim’s parents, her brothers, Mr. Barkin, Bonnie, Rufus, etc. are very much different from their animated counterparts in both personality and looks. When it comes to Kim’s parents it is mentioned that her mom’s a neurosurgeon and her dad’s a rocket scientist but we hardly see them until the last third. It was nice seeing Kim’s mom and grandmother take part in helping Kim rescue Athena but again the movie underutilizes these characters as in the show, they played a key part in making Kim the character she was.
Athena was a new character added to this movie and the movie’s heart is in the right place with Kim trying to do her best to help her out particularly towards the end when it turns out Drakken is going to kill her but her story once again ties into the pacing and execution which doesn’t give much time to fully absorb something like this.
Finally there are the villains. Even though it was only in the opening it was nice that they got Patton Oswalt to reprise the role of Professor Dementor. Todd Stashwick overacting was great as Dr. Drakken and Taylor Ortega as Shego did a decent job of capturing the character’s snarky and sarcastic demeanor and the two have good banter in vein of the classic cartoon. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh at what happened to Drakken in the end.
This live action adaptation of Kim Possible has an all right message, a good Ron, and some enjoyable villains but its pacing and execution cause the thing to lose its impact. The movie also underused several classic characters and loses the heart of what made its source material so great. On its own, it’s not particularly harmful for kids but you when you consider the fact that you have the original cartoon, (it is quite easy to find online) which is funnier, smarter, and all around better, it is far better for today’s generation to associate the animated version with the character more.