Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)



On the day of her wedding, Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a falling meteorite, turning her into a 40+ foot tall being with super strength. Captured by the government, and sent to a holding facility where she is forced to spend her days with oddball monsters B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), and The Missing Link (Will Arnett). Though one day when an Alien probe lands, and threatens to destroy the world, these monsters are called upon to save the day.

My Recommended Caption: From the directors that managed to painfully misuse talent in Shark Tale, comes a new era in bad focus in the animated world!

I've heard lots of good things about MvA since it's release earlier this year, enough for me to bother giving it a shot, despite all evidence it was going to be exactly what it turned out to be. Another mediocre, failed attempt at a fun premise, with too much acting talent, and lack of ability to highlight the really interesting characters.

The central focus of the story is your generic, person suddenly being thrown into a top secret world, in this case we have Susan. Susan is by all accounts... annoying. Your generic marrying the famous weatherman character (paging Nicole Kidman, we need your dark killer side), who is caught in this ideal life until it is suddenly taken away. It may be that I didn't care about Susan to start with, it may be that I don't really empathize with a woman who can't think for herself until being hit by a meteor on the day she was to marry to self-centered fiancee... oh well.

As the film progresses Susan goes through the acts of her character almost as if the writers were following a rule book. The film's main saving grace lies in the dreadfully underused side characters of The President (Stephen Colbert), General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), B.O.B, The Missing Link, and Dr. Cockroach. These characters are all hilarious when they are allowed to flow, and manage to really bring the movie up to a watchable level.

Unfortunately for us though these characters are countered by massive over the top attempts to make them funnier, all of which end in disaster. These include random, stupid, dance numbers (do kids really need to groove to the Beverly Hills Cop theme?), cheesy diabolical laughs, and a villain so cliche your head my quite literally spin (Exorcist style). The problem with these forced humor moments is that the characters are perfectly hilarious without these gimmicky side gags, so much so that I kind of wish they'd make a sequel with that in mind.

Now with Race to Witch Mountain, another kid film I reviewed earlier, I pointed out that when it comes to Kids films you have to account for a relative entertainment value. In that respect I think Monsters vs. Aliens does succeed in bringing about a sense of heavy entertainment, good action sequences, and constant movement that'll keep children entertained. Unfortunately, once again MvsA falls into the trap of just giving kids something to watch, instead of giving them something to be inspired by.

In the end with better character management, Monsters vs. Aliens could have been as memorable a kids film as the come, unfortunately though it's just another high budget, high explosion film that'll entertain but be quickly forgotten.

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