After seeing Rise of the Guardians, it’s pretty easy to see why it’s getting a lot of awards buzz – it’s smart enough for older kids-at-heart and filled with lots of action and cool stuff to engage younger viewers.
The gang from the first two Madagascar movies find adventure – and love – as they hop a circus train to elude a crazed animal control officer and try to get home – in really effective 3D.
Sequels have been a fact in the movies since, well, the movies began. They are hard to pull because they have to be creative without losing the essence of the original – and usually, they fail. Happily, Kung Fu Panda 2 comes close to approximating the mix of action, humor and heart that made its predecessor such an entertaining experience.
After Shrek The Third, the series pretty much hit bottom. Very few fans thought a fourth movie would be a good idea, but since it had already been greenlighted, there nothing to be done. And then, a minor miracle happened – Shrek: The Final Chapter backed off the ubiquitous pop references and went back to what made the first two movies popular – the characters!
Just when you were beginning to think you couldn’t handle another superhero movie, Dreamworks Animation comes along with a clever, quirky superhero spoof that hits its target spot on. In a deft play on the genre, Megamind answers the question: what would happen if a supervillain actually won? And what happens after that?
It’s one of the best reviewed and most enjoyed movies of 2010 – it’s How to Train Your Dragon and it’s coming to DVD and Blu-ray in packages that contain a brand new adventure – Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon, as wellas a single DVD release. Each comes with some fun extras.
Details follow the jump.
Shrek [Mike Myers] has become [he thinks] ordinary – he has a wife and three babies; random strangers ask him to roar for their children; the Far Far Away tour bus stops by his swamp home to point out the totally not scary ogre who saved the kingdom. Life is perfect. Perfectly boring. More than anything, he would like a day of being scary – and able to have a mudbath in piece.
Following a Groundhog Day montage of the triplets’ birthday that plays over and over, each time through worse than the time before, Shrek encounters Rumplestiltskin [Walt Dohrn, also Head of Story for the film] – a snake oil salesman if there ever was one. Rumple offers him a deal: exchange the next day for one of Shrek’s days as a baby – a day he wouldn’t even remember.
Earlier this week, I attended a 2D screening of How to Train Your Dragon and enjoyed it immensely – so much so that I decided I gad to see it in 3D. In 2D, I’d have given the film a solid B+, but after seeing it the way it was filmed, I definitely had to bump that up.
I was going to start this review off by talking about how tough it is to review a movie that’s technically brilliant but bland as heck then I was going to go into this whole rant about how I’m not a snob, but in reality I am, but I’m poor so I have to keep my natural snobbishness in check. With that said, as a general rule, I don’t like most American animated films. I don’t like most of the stuff from Pixar, Dreamworks, etc. I understand the technical wizardry involved in creating the material, appreciate the story and directing quality but I always find the facial features to be too perfect, plastic, and the reliance on Hollywood Star voices distracting (except Shrek where it works). Now this new emphasis on 3D animation, I just don’t know. I loved and connected with Coraline because the 3D really sucked me into the story. In Monsters Vs. Aliens 3D, it had the opposite effect. I kept thinking, this is kind of cool, but is it really adding anything to the story? The answer is no and it was a bit distracting.
When I really have nothing say about a movie, this is the point where I would trot out my standard formula of giving you the tedious plot summary (TPS). I could tell you that it’s actually a good little chick flick (not a bad thing), disguised as a animated action film. How the story is about a woman named Susan Murphy/Ginormica (Reese Witherspoon) who is minutes from marrying her dream guy a small market weatherman when she’s hit by a Meteor that causes her to grow 50ft tall, she’s then captured and taken to a secret government facility where she meets her fellow monsters – a blob (Seth Rogen), a mad scientist cockroach (Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link – a fish man (Will Arnett) and a giant fury animal creature that’s even taller than Susan, Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson). The first part of this film is actually pretty depressing because it shows how poorly the Government is treating these “Monsters.” When the Aliens finally attack, I wanted the Monsters to join them.
The voice acting felt really forced and not natural at all. Or maybe it’s the opposite; that it was all so neutral that there didn’t seem to be any real emotion coming from the voices. I thought Reese was really bland and dry throughout most of the film – which is bad because the entire film hinges on her performance, she sounds bored. While the cast is good mix of A and B list actors none of them have real distinctive voices like an Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock or Billy Crystal so it wasn’t as distracting as it usually is. I didn’t even recognize Kiefer Southerland as (General W.R. Monger) and I almost always know his voice. Dammit.
It was weird seeing this movie the very first day I moved to Fl, I came out of the theater not knowing where I was and feeling a bit disoriented for a few minutes. The one thing 3D does, is you really do pay attention to everything on the screen I wasn’t watch checking at all. Hollywood is going overboard with animated films this year and it’s going to wear thin really quick. Monsters Vs. Alien isn’t a bad movie it’s just too generic to really get excited about.
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EM Review by
Originally Posted 3.29.09
The premise is simple: to stop and alien invader, the U.S. military releases its force of five captured monsters. The catch? It’s not as simple as they thought.
Although it took a veritable legion of writers [okay… five] to come up with the final script for Monsters vs. Aliens, like the group that pieced together Casablanca, these guys did good. Monsters vs. Aliens is the best 3-D CG B-movie monster mashup ever! [Okay… it’s the first 3-D CG B-movie monster mashup. Your point is…?]
It all begins when Susan Murphy [voiced by Reese Witherspoon] is hit by a meteor and grows to 49.5 feet tall. Before she knows it, she’s been abducted by the military and placed in a top-secret prison along with The Missing Link [Will Arnett], B.O.B. [Seth Rogen], Insectosaurus and Dr. Cockroach [Hugh Laurie] – who represent, in the same order, The 50-Foot Woman [Attack of the 50-Foot woman], The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Blob, Godzilla/Mothra and The Fly. The alien[s] in question would be Galaxhar [Rain Wilson], a bored, four-eyed purple [might be] people eater who is looking for a little excitement. The plural would be his clones…
The human element comes mainly from Susan, who’s engaged to a rather full-of-himself cable weatherman with ambition, Derek Dietl [Paul Rudd]. Unfortunately, Derek is also not happy with the new Susan. Stephen Colbert does a great job voicing an overconfident but easily confused President of the United States, and Kiefer Sutherland gives just the right amount of humanity to balance the extremely hawk-ish warden/guardian of the monsters’ prison, General Warren R. Monger. There’s even a wistful bit of philosophy from the “you can’t home again” school of thought.
Monsters vs. Aliens is a fast-paced, laugh-filled ride. For the second week in a row, I’ve seen a movie where the trailer, good as it is, does not contain the best bits in the movie. Not only that, but the 3-D is amazing – though there are only a very few blatant gags, including one just a few minutes in. It’s as though directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman are telling us, “our 3-D could do lots these gimmicky gags, but we really don’t need to do that to tell our story.”
While the script might be a bit jokier than, say, the average Pixar film, there are character moments that would not be out of place in one – and the animation is, for the first time right up to the Pixar level. Then there’s that wonderful 3-D. It seems that each new 3-D film outdoes its most recent predecessor and that’s the way it is here. Part of the fun of seeing the screening I attended was in hearing the little kids in the audience gasp as the world of the movie drew them in. Even the mom next to me was entranced. Yes, MvsA works as an homage to B-movie monsters; as a coming of age story [Susan’s a late bloomer, eh?], and as a wild romp for the kids.
I thoroughly enjoyed Monsters vs. Aliens – and the audience gave it a standing ovation. Good thing I’d decided on my grade before they started standing [and blocking the screen while stuff happened onscreen during the credits…].
Final Grade: A+