Monsters v. Aliens
While the idea was interesting, Monsters v. Aliens was rather boring and I remained disinterested for most of the film. Unlike most animated films of the last decade (e.g., Shrek or anything by Pixar), there was little to appeal to adults and I just didn’t care about the overall story. In short, there was no “there” there.
As for the story, the film tries to capture the essence of the sci-fi films of yesteryear that gave us The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Blob, and The War of the Worlds. We follow the story of Susan (Reese Witherspoon) who is struck by a meteorite and becomes super-sized. She’s placed in the government’s top secret detention program for monsters. An untimely alien invasion, though, requires these monsters to save the planet. A decent idea but it fails to capture what makes those old sci-fi films so entertaining: kitsch and real suspense. For a good example (but not terribly kid-friendly), go see Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks. Here, we had a watered down film that took bits and pieces from the genre and recaptured it for kids. How unfortunate that this may be the first exposure children have to such an exciting area of entertainment!
Now before you accuse me of being too harsh with a children’s film, I think we could have had a better story with more action and more emotional interest in the characters. Frankly, I just didn’t care about Susan’s backstory since we were treated to only a superficial look at her and all of the other characters. You have develop characters if you want the audience to feel anything about them.
Still, there were a few highlights: Stephen Colbert‘s vocal work and scenes in the war room as the President were probably the best in the film, to say nothing of his character’s salute to Close Encounters of the Third Kind when trying to communicate with the alien arrival. And then Seth Rogan as Bob (the Blob) was funny but it was just an animated version of Seth Rogan’s usual thing. The rest, while fine and recognizable, were nothing special.
So, if you have children under 10, enjoy a nice matinee with them (but don’t pay for the minimal effects in 3D); otherwise, go rent Bolt, which just came out on DVD last week, and watch that over and over again until Pixar’s Up comes out in May (I’ve seen the full trailer twice now and it looks great).