Monsters vs. Aliens 3D/ dir. Conrad Vernon & Rob Letterman/ 2009
Yesterday was that day in Seattle. The day when the sun came out and it was finally warm enough for folks to be active. It was a good day to be outside, so I spent the majority of it outside. First at Alki beach, people watching and sketching, then enjoying a nice 8 mile run up Lake Washington blvd, ending with a bbq at a homies’ crib. But before I did all those things, I began my day with a trip to the movie theater to watch Monsters vs. Aliens 3D.
Suffice to say based on this trailer, I was kinda excited to see this movie:
I actually meant to see it last week, but I had to finish watching a certain memorable anime series…
So what’s the verdict on Dreamworks’ newest animated feature?
A few years back there was another animation studio, I believe the name of that studio was Pixar, they made a movie about monsters as well. Anyway, you should probably stick with the Pixar movie. Hit the jump to read the rest of the review.
Monsters vs. Aliens is the story of a girl named Susan Murphy, who turns into a giant monster because she is hit by a giant meteorite on her wedding day. Because of this, she is taken to a secret government compound where she meets a ragtag group of monsters also rounded up over the years. As a last resort on a desperate order from The President, the motley crew of Monsters is called into action to combat the aliens and save the world from imminent destruction!
From there hilarity ensues. Or at least its supposed to. Unfortunately, in my opinion, almost every joke and gag missed its mark. There has been a trend in animated features to try to at least attempt to cater to the adult audience a little with in-jokes and pop culture references. But the attempts in Monsters vs. Aliens seemed forced (remember this word I use it a lot) and they just weren’t that funny (even though I did enjoy them playing the Beverly Hills Cop theme in place of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind tune). As for the humor for the children audience, the kids at the theater I was at were mostly quiet, there was never really an outburst of laughter save for a small one at the end. That, in a nutshell, let me know what was up.
As for story and character depth, I saw promise. Susan, the giant woman accepting her life and being proud of her accomplishments would be a nice moral. Plus in a way, she is at least a decent strong woman role-model. Too bad I didn’t get any sense of character progression. So when Susan started accepting the other monsters as friends, it seemed all too sudden and forced (hey look its that word again), and by that point I didn’t really care. (One side note really quick, one of the big action scenes take place on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. How come I see no Asian Pacific Islander characters at all? Its the bay right? I digress…) The story didn’t really flow well either. The shifts from acting/ dialogue to action scenes were blunt and (here’s that word again) forced. BTW, the aliens sucked! Here’s a spoiler, its just ONE alien! He clones himself, that’s how we get multiple aliens. So the epic monsters vs. aliens fight NEVER HAPPENS! How is this movie called Monsters vs. Aliens?
However, there is goodness in this film that inspires me. The animation and visuals are good. The character designs seemed awkward to me at first but then they grew on me. The textures they used on the people were quite nice with stubble and different highlights in skin tones. And the animators did a good job in showing emotion in all the characters too. This would be a great film to just look at. Unfortunately many of the new 3D animated features have great animation as well, so that puts a damper on the uniqueness factor.
Lastly the 3D. The movie was made better because of the 3D. But it was far from the immersive experience I got from Coraline. The 3D, while cool to look at, seemed (here it is one more time) forced.
Bottom line: Only see if you got kids that want to see it. If not, Monsters, Inc. works best for me.