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Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Oooze gonna save us?

Directed by:

Conrad Vernon

Rob Letterman

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

It’s like the East Coast/West Coast rap feud—no, not the monsters fighting the aliens, DreamWorks vs. Pixar. Pixar has been winning that battle for years with stuff like Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo, while DreamWorks, though offering the occasional Shrek, still churned out clunkers like Shark Tale. Monsters vs. Aliens isn’t up to par, story-wise, with either Toy Story OR Shrek, but it gets a few extra kudos for its grand, stunning use of 3-D.

Starts off, poor Modesto, California-bred Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is knocked out by a meteorite on her wedding day and finds she’s been mutated to a whopping 49 feet 11 inches tall. Needless to say, the wedding is off, and Susan—now deemed Ginormica—is hauled off to join fellow “monsters” at a top-secret government facility. Here she meets others of her “kind”: Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), The Missing Link (Will Arnett), and Mothra-esque Insectosaurus, but when the bad guy aliens, led by the nefarious Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), decide to invade our planet, these former oddballs are called on by none other than the President of the United States (Stephen Colbert) to save our collective skin.

The effects, especially the 3-D bits, are stunning, and having witnessed both live action and animated 3-D in recent months, it’s clear the medium has improved since the old days, and that the places where it can truly shine are in computer animated fare like this. All that being said, the movie itself is a bit of a letdown. With a voice cast straight out of my nerd-girl dreams (Dr. House, Jack Bauer, AND Stephen Colbert all in one place—plus Dwight and Jim from “The Office”?) and a premise straight out of 1950s sci-fi B-movies, I was ready for non-stop giddy joy, but all I really got were pleasant chuckling and mild entertainment. It’s not that anything is necessarily bad or wrong about the movie, it just lacks any real character development, which isn’t always a big deal with cartoon kid flicks but which becomes an apparent flaw when said flick is accompanied by such promise. Rogen is an exception to the bland rule, however, and his big, gloopy B.O.B. steals the show over and over again and serves to reinforce my ever-growing Seth love. Overall, Monsters vs. Aliens may fall victim to its own hype, and DreamWorks still isn’t on the same storytelling page as its nemesis Pixar, but the effects are great, the jokes are funny enough, and if you see it in 3-D, it may even be worth paying full ticket price.

It's Got: My secret boyfriend Seth Rogen, 3-D to rave about, Cool names like “Ginormica”.

It Needs: A little more of the clever, A little more of the development.

Alternatives:

Inc., Kung Fu Panda, Monsters, The Incredibles

Summary

B-movie sci-fi fans will revel in the references, and kids will enjoy the spectacular effects and funny creatures, but Monsters vs. Aliens, while a technical marvel, isn’t much more than a pleasantly forgettable kid flick without its 3-D.

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