Monday, 13 April 2009

Monsters Vs Aliens

The cinematic highs reached through animated films like Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo just haven’t been recreated by the recent attempts of Dreamworks, Paramount and Pixar etc, and Monsters versus Aliens is no exception. Sadly it doesn’t encapsulate the charm of the superb Wall-E, nor the laughs of Bolt. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not awful – and granted, I’m not exactly target audience as an (ahem) twenty-something, but the joy of animated creations like Toy Story, was that you didn’t have to be.

The premise is interesting enough, happily-in-love Susan is about to get married when a meteorite strikes her, transforming her into a giant. She’s immediately dragged away and forced into league with 4 monsters – all sly nods to B-movie lore: The Blob, The Fly etc, and these outcasts are pitted against alien invader Galaxar. Sadly, the plot dies an ugly death about half way through, about the time the lattes ran out in the boardroom I guess, and I’d lost my patience before the finale even kicked in. Part of the problem here is that tenticled Galaxar isn’t an engaging bad guy (or alien rather), in fact, he’s pretty rubbish. There’s a distinct lack of suspense, you never really fear that the monsters are in any real danger. Old-school baddies like Captain Hook and Ursela the sea-witch were far scarier – kids like to be scared by the baddies, that’s the point, right?

Anyhow, saving the film are excellent performances from Keifer Sutherland as an unstable madcap general, and Steven Colbert portraying an idiot President pre-occupied with nuclear destruction and coffee, who brilliantly greets the aliens by pompously playing the 5 tones from Close Encounters on a synth - cue in-joke snigger if you’re old enough to get it. And while Seth Rogan’s trademark 40-a-day laugh can’t claim a credit on its own, it’s used to great effect. To give the writers their due, there are some brilliantly inventive moments too; when Susan (now renamed Ginormica) thinks on her feet (literally) and uses cars as rollerskates to whizz around San Francisco you’re finally drawn into the action, and Rogan’s gelatinous blob, B.O.B falling head over heels with a green jelly raises some of the few genuine giggles.

It’s just not enough to fill out the size-zero thin plot though, and distract from the fact that laughs are all too infrequent; the lack of originality takes away from the fantastic graphics and a few memorable action sequences. Basically, for me, it’s a Monster-sized disappointment.

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