Australian animated superhero sequel never really soars

Ron Cerabona
March 3 2024 - 5:00am

Combat Wombat: Back 2 Back

PG. 81 minutes

2 stars

I had never heard of Combat Wombat (2020), the predecessor to this Australian animated feature which also arrived with no fanfare. Like many local films, it has presumably struggled to get attention amid the bigger releases with more marketing, although with some big names in the voice casts for both, it's odd there wasn't a bit more of a push.

WATCH: Combat Wombat Back 2 Back trailer.

In this sequel, Maggie Diggins (voiced by Deborah Mailman) feels her life lacks much purpose. Crime seems to have pretty much vanished in Sanctuary City, so she doesn't need to don her superhero outfit and go forth as Combat Wombat to solve cases and ensure wrongdoers are brought to justice.

It might not seem a bad problem to have but Maggie isn't one to seek another occupation or take up a hobby. She puts out an app saying she and her enthusiastic sidekick Gallant Glider (Ed Oxenbould) will help out anywhere, anytime. They're soon busy again but not in the way they had hoped - people inundate them with requests to babysit, fetch groceries from high shelves, and other mundane tasks.

A scene from Combat Wombat: Back 2 Back. Picture supplied
A scene from Combat Wombat: Back 2 Back. Picture supplied

The film is colourful and keeps moving but it's loud and heavy-handed.

Eventually, of course, something big does arise. A spate of burglaries committed by older people is occurring, with the perpetrators announcing their intentions on camera. They're all put in prison - including one who had previously offloaded his young grandchild on our heroes. The police don't seem inclined to investigate further.

But it's all very odd and Combat Wombat and Sweetie (her rather patronising term of endearment for Gallant Glider) are back in action, along with the baby and Skylar (Elizabeth Cullen), a juvenile delinquent they reluctantly agreed to supervise as one of their helping-out activities.

It's no surprise to learn that the older folk haven't really turned to lives of crime. Behind the burglaries is Lenny Glick (David Wenham), a fabulously wealthy tech-genius chameleon (with an American accent, presumably to appeal to the US market).

Lenny uses a gizmo put in the ear to control the citizens - he can make them do what he wants and even speak in their voices - and it's all part of his big plan to get everyone in town into a virtual reality world he has created. He couches it in altruistic terms - imagine a world where everything is good and everyone is happy - but of course he has an ulterior motive.

The film is colourful and keeps moving but it's loud and heavy-handed, despite a few cute background jokes. There's an overlong sequence in a retirement home (the dynamic duo go undercover to investigate) and suspension of disbelief gets broken when the established rules around the ear device change abruptly.

Yes, it's a superhero fantasy but there still needs to be internal consistency: if Superman suddenly became invulnerable to Kryptonite without explanation, it would jar. The story is a bit fuzzy at other times too.

This is a passable effort but it isn't close - in scripting or technical quality - to the quality of the best of Disney or Pixar.

Some of it might be a bit confusing to the young kids who would be its main audience.

It's getting a limited release so if you want to see it on the big screen, go soon.

Ron Cerabona

Ron Cerabona

Arts reporter

As arts reporter I am interested in and cover a wide range of areas - film, visual art, theatre and music, among others - to tell readers about what's coming and happening in the vibrant and varied world of the arts in Canberra. Email: