Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.

Release Date: March 27th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Conrad Vernon, Rob Letterman Actors: Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert

 


 

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onderfully inventive characters and highly polished visuals abound in Dreamworks’ latest computer animation extravaganza, working diligently to disprove the theory that story is the most important element. With hilarious caricatures, gargantuan CG sets, and grandiose action sequences, it almost succeeds. But ultimately, the aesthetics can’t win out over an expected plot, hit-or-miss humor, and characters whose personalities don’t live up to their appealing appearances (as well as quite a few underused voice talents, such as the tragically unrecognizable Renee Zellweger, Amy Poehler, and Paul Rudd).

On her wedding day (in Fresno California, the most romantic city in the world), Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a meteorite infused with Quantonium, a rare and powerful element that causes her to grow to an enormous size. Targeted by the government as a “monster,” Susan is captured and imprisoned at a secret facility where other such oddities have been held since the 1950s, when it was deemed that the public couldn’t handle the presence of extraterrestrials. Governed by Patton-esque General Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), the tenants include Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), a mad scientist who accidentally transformed himself into a roach-human hybrid; B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a gelatinous, brainless mass brought to life in an experiment gone wrong; The Missing Link (Will Arnett), a Creature-from-the-Black-Lagoon-like lizard man; and the skyscraper-sized mutant larvae Insectosaurus.

When deranged alien overlord Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) arrives on Earth to obtain the precious Quantonium and conquer the world, President Hathaway (Stephen Colbert) offers the monsters their freedom in exchange for defeating the evil mastermind and his legion of robots and clones. “Do something violent!” commands the trembling American leader, after giving an ineffective welcoming to a towering probe droid. In a spoof of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the President unleashes a series of jazzy funk beats and dance moves that highlight the hilarity, thanks largely to its wild spontaneity.

Pixar may be the heavyweight champion of computer animated feature films, but Dreamworks Animation is steadily making its way into the ring. With “Monsters vs. Aliens,” they’ve gotten the formula down pat – exhilarating action, amazing special effects, humorous character designs, and a plot relatively free of preachiness. The intensity of the film is extraordinary, with an attack on the Golden Gate Bridge matching the sheer magnitude of destruction in “Cloverfield” and challenging the awe of “Independence Day” and “Godzilla” (the special effects, anyway). The throwbacks to classic B-movie monstrosities form an homage collage that rivals the research put into “The Incredibles’” comic book character origins.

Although “Monsters vs. Aliens” doesn’t offer a noticeably large number of over-the-top, in-your-face moments, seeing it in 3D (and/or IMAX) certainly doesn’t hurt. No details are spared with the absolutely brilliant CG models and animation, while the textures and lighting are consistently photorealistic. It may not rank amongst the greatest computer animated works, but in its technical mastery and pure entertainment achievements, it’s out of this world.

– The Massie Twins

  • 8/10