DreamWorks Animation has steadily been trying to chip away at the animation throne held by Pixar Animation Studios for years. To their credit, they’ve had more successes (Kung Fu Panda and the Shrek series being the most notable) than failures (think Bee Movie). The latest weapon in their arsenal for animated supremacy comes in the form of Monsters vs. Aliens.
And why shouldn’t they be excited about its’ ability to take a few more chunks from the throne? They’ve crammed in:
- Top notch Hollywood voice talent
- Use of the latest and greatest 3D technology (something called Tru3D)
- An homage to yesteryears B-movies — the 50′ Woman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Blob, the Fly and Mothra
Yet, Monsters vs. Aliens is missing something.
It’s certainly not lacking in the animation department. The artists deserve a fine pat on the back for their eye to the fine details. The Golden Gate Bridge is perfectly modeled and the physics employed as it gets broken apart is damn near as real as it can get. Likewise, the hair of Ginormica (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) and the fur of Insectosaurus is very lifelike. And while I’m not exactly a big fan of the 3D gimmick, I must say, it too was very captivating — this ain’t the same 3D crap Jaws 3-D tossed your way 25 years ago.
What I suspect is absent, is the charm. Monsters vs. Aliens is curiously devoid of any of it. The first quarter of the movie is spent building an uninteresting backstory about Susan Murphy (Witherspoon) and her conceited weatherman fiancé Derek Dietl (voiced by Paul Rudd). The next quarter isn’t that much better as Susan (now Ginormica) finds herself pining away for her old life in a super secret prison locked tightly away with the other monsters — B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen), Dr. Cockroach (voiced by Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link (voiced by Will Arnett) and Insectosaurus (not voiced by anyone).
When Gallaxhar (voiced by Rainn Wilson) comes to Earth to retrieve the element Quantonium and gain ultimate power, the movie picks up a head of steam. Lots of eye candy action ensues with comic interludes by B.O.B., General W.R. Monger (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) and President Hathaway (voiced by Stephen Colbert). Kids in the theater hooted and hollered as the giant insect shot sticky snot from it’s nose. Parents were heard snickering too at some of the double entradas littered about.
Then it all winds down and the film wraps itself up to fit neatly into an envelope — everyone learns something about themselves and they all go home.
Ultimately, Monsters vs. Aliens is a bit to formulaic in its approach and most of the characters it wants us to cheer for are lifeless caricatures. But hey, at least they’re rendered extremely well and the kids dragging you to see it won’t know any better (it’ll be our secret).