Saturday, April 11, 2009
Movie Review: Monsters vs Aliens 3D
Last night I went to watch the new Dreamworks animated picture, Monsters vs Aliens. Overall I thought it was solid film, enjoyable for both children and adults. Ever since watching Coraline in 3D I have been waiting for a new 3D film to be released and that really was the main reason I wanted to go.
The premise is pretty much set up in the title. A young woman in her wedding day is hit by a meteor. The radiation from the meteor grants her enhanced strength and size, growing well over 30 feet tall. Brought in by the US government for her own safety, she is introduced to the other monsters that they have been hiding from the world, The Missing Link, Bob; a gelatinous blob, Dr. Cockroach; a former scientist who fused himself wit cockroach DNA, and Insectasaurus; a giant insect that dwarfs even Susan.
When an evil alien, Galaxhar, discovers the power source of the meteor that ht Susan has been absorbed by her, he decides to send a giant robot probe to retrieve it. The robot proves invulnerable to US weaponry so the President authorizes the use of out team of monsters. Susan manages to destroy the robot and save much of San Fransisco in the process with the help of her team, though they destroy the Golden Gate Bridge. Galaxhar gets angry at this and leads an invasion force to Earth to retrieve the power that Susan has absorbed and rule the planet with an army of his own clones. Galaxhar arrives at Earth and captures Susan, stripping her of her powers, returning her to normal. The rest of her team comes to save her but get trapped after freeing her. In the end Susan must decide whats more important, being normal or saving her friends.
There were a lot of positive things in the film. While I didn't think the 3D was as good as Coraline, it was still pretty cool, especially the space sequences, providing real depth and detail into the environments. The animation was solid and very much in the Dreamworks style, a sort of modern take on traditional animation. There was even a few scenes that made me jump out of my seat with the 3D animation, particularly in the beginning with a scene involving a paddle ball paddle coming right out of the screen! Very solid overall.
The voice acting was also top notch, probably the best part of the film. Resse Witherspoon plays Susan and brings a very easy going charm and earnestness to the role to make you believe that she is a woman totally out of her element. Seth Rogan is fantastic as Bob, the brainless blob. He easily has the funniest lines in the film. Hugh Laurie brings a nice maniacal glee to his role as Dr. Cockroach that helps sell the character. Will Arnett of Saturday Night Live fame voices the Missing Link and he brings a nice feel to a character that may not be a tough as he thought. Rounding out the voice talent is Keifer Sutherland as the general in charge of the monster team, Rainn Wilson (Dwight of the Office) as Galaxhar, Paul Rudd as Susan's jerky fiancee, and in a bit of brilliant casting, Stephen Colbert as the President. Each one brings their own flavor to the film and really rounds out the experience.
The downside is the story. As a children's film it is very cookie-cutter and formulaic. Each beat you see coming and I didn't feel they pushed at anything like Pixar does, or even Dreamworks did with the first two Shreks. It makes you laugh and provides plenty of entertainment, but it just didn't have that same qualities that set it above other animated films. I just didn't think it was quite the same level as WALL-E or Coraline was in terms of story quality or 3D content.
That doesn't mean its not a fun film. They do pepper in several jokes for adults, including my favorite joke when The president attempts to communicate to the giant alien robot using a keyboard and sending sounds like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which then degenerates into the keyboard theme from Beverly Hills Cop. All age groups will enjoy the film. I had a lot of fun and would definitely recommend checking it out, just make sure you hit the 3D showing! Monster vs Aliens is a fun picture that is great for kids and will keep adults entertained throughout.
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