Monsters Vs Aliens is the latest Dreamworks Animation effort, they have been on the improve over the years but are still light years behind Pixar in terms of quality and consistency. No shame there I guess, (so is every other production company), but DA sometimes are guilty of the “name actor” and pop culture references being more important than stories. I’ll put it this way, anyone with Bee movie and A Shark’s Tale needs to check the quality control procedures more stringently, also unnecessary sequels to both Madagascar and Shrek count against them, all far inferior to the originals.
I am a big fan of computer animation films, as I acknowledge the concessions that film-makers have made over the last few years (to indulge the parents and carers to reward them for taking the kids in the first place).
Before heading out tonight I did a quick stock take of my favourite computer animated films and came up with the following:
- Toy Story 2
- Finding Nemo
- Monsters Inc.
- Ice Age
- The Incredibles
- Toy Story
- A Bug’s Life
- Ice Age 2 – The Meltdown
- Over The Hedge
The gaps are deliberately left to give an indication of the tiers in the field. You’ll note that “Ice Age” is the only non Pixar film in the top 9, I have made the trip to the cinema for each Pixar film since “Toy Story” in 1995, (yes it was the first, meaning I’ve seen every kid’s movie they’ve made in the cinema, without ever taking a kid)!
Monsters Vs Aliens – The Plot in 23 seconds – A meteor hits Earth, (specifically hits a chick named Susan minutes prior to her wedding), Susan is imbued with “Quantinium” (doesn’t matter what it is) and immediately grows 45 ft taller with super powers. Galaxar (an alien) wants the Quantinium and decides to attack Earth using an army of his clones to get it back. Earth decides to combat the Aliens with… da-da-da-da-da-daaaaa Monsters! that they have accumulated over the past 50 years.
Included in the Monster’s squad are Susan, now known as Ginormica and basically a white haired replica of Elastigirl/Mrs Incredible, a gelatinous blob named BOB, a fishy looking thing (apparently the missing link) called Link, a maniacal genius called Dr. Cockroach due to an experiment gone wrong and finally a giant bug called, you guessed it “Insecto”.
There are really only two fights between Monster and Alien, a few jokes and a couple of pop culture references, though refreshingly less than normal, but not much more than that.
You’d think rather than being P.O.’d Susan would be happy to have an excuse to buy an entire new wardrobe! Sure she’s 50 odd ft tall but men always notice tall women and there aren’t many 4 ft 11 inch models running around?
The 9 minutes of credits should mean Dreamworks tried to make this a classic, and I wanted to like it, I really did. The fact is that I laughed three times in the entire 80 minutes (sans credits), all because of, or at the expense of BOB (without details, BOB is stupid and has no memory).
1/ How the others cheat at cards and Bob is none the wiser.
2/ Bob tries to crack onto a jelly plate.
3/ How he acts when he is unaware he is about to die.
Before you cry SPOILER!, it is a G rated movie, you know no-one dies,
Where they it all went wrong:
Not a big deal, but Susan is constantly disproportionate, without harping in one scene she knocks a power pole over with her shin, later on the power poles are head-high. Also Bob is at times around 2 ft tall, then later seems 6 ft in size in relation to Susan. The characters also seem to have no weight when they fall, land or even walk around.
The character designs seem half-arsed, (more on this later) and the designs seem more like prototypes than fully-fleshed creations.
Dreamworks did limit the pop culture references in this one, I hate PCR as they both date the film, and short sell the value of jokes by using the work of others to almost create “enjoyment by acknowledgement”. (For the record: Dance-Dance Revolution, Axel-F, Roller-blading).
As a final thought, my wife bought a couple of Macca’s kiddie meals for our son in the last few weeks, and when he brought the toys home I mentioned that they were becoming more uninspired than ever.
It turns out that the two toys were Dr Cockroach and Insecto.
Referring back to the initial paragraphs, any computer animated film not listed in my rankings can hardly be recommended by me. This includes the Shrek sequels (which sucked), Madagascar 2, Robots and many others. After the credits rolled my first thoughts were that I didn’t really like any character, including BOB, who was the token likeable character, I also thought that from a marketing perspective MVA would make crap toys if I wanted to buy a present for my son.
Boring characters + crap toys = Sequel suicide. Even “Cars”, which wasn’t that flash, is getting a sequel, because car-toys sell!
I think somewhere in this review I am expected to say that the animation is “amazing” and “groundbreaking”, but it really isn’t if you’ve seen anything since “Toy Story 2” or “Monster’s Inc”. The fact that it is in 3D is irrelevant and is more a marketing ploy in my view.
Final Ranking – 6.5 / 10. Coulda – Woulda – Shoulda been better. A rental if you have kids, not much for anyone else.