March 30, 2009

MVA


I went to see Monsters vs. Aliens mainly because of its superb voice casting. Hugh Laurie as "not a quack but mad scientist" Dr. Cockroach, Seth Rogen as B.O.B., Kiefer Sutherland as General W. R. Monger, Will Arnett as the Missing Link, Reese Witherspoon as Susan/Ginormica, and of course Stephen Colbert as the U. S. President. Julie White, Paul Rudd, Jeffrey Tambor Amy Poehler and Rainn Wilson ( I never would have guessed he was the villain Gallaxhar) are even there in the mix.
The premise is clever enough: aliens invade earth, and only a group of Monsters that the government has been keeping in a top-secret facility (umm...Area 51) can stop them. The heroes are all from the B movie monster genre: the Blob, the 50 foot woman, the creature from the black lagoon, the Fly and a Godzilla-like Insectosaurus. There are genuine laugh out loud moments , but I think it was mostly for the adults (like winks to Dr. Strangelove and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, references to E.T., An Inconvenient Truth.)

Dreamworks has always been known for its smart send-offs of pop culture (remember a little film called Shrek?), but its movies have never quite had the heart that Disney/Pixar has successfully melded with animation. (Although Kung Fu Panda came pretty close.) Monsters vs. Aliens is no different. The animation is terrific (I can't even imagine the man-hours it took to animate Susan's hair alone!), and it's great to see a female protagonist for once. There was still a certain something that was missing from the story-telling though, something this carbon-based life form can't quite decode yet.

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