Apr 3, 2009

[Movies] Monsters vs Aliens (2009)

Monsters vs Aliens (2009)The classic science fiction and horror moves of old centered around alien invaders from space or radioactive giant monsters emerging from the ocean. What could we do - this was the period right after the use of the atomic bomb and when the space race between the US and the then USSR was in full swing. It created for particular thinking and a popularity of such movie concepts.

Things like that have generated unusual debates over the years in geekier circles of how they'd fare in battles against one another. Just take the notion of pirates and ninja, yet another unusual pairing and yet there's that irrational geeky need to discuss who would possibly win in a free-for-all melee between the two.

Yeah, I know that doesn't seem to make much sense to most folks - you just really have to be a geek to get it, I assure you.

This latest Dreamworks production tries to tap into that subsection of our social consciousness while again presenting an animated feature that operates on multiple levels for kids and adults alike, and it managed it decently well.

Monsters vs Aliens revolves around Susan (Reese Witherspoon) who gets hit by a meteor made of "quantonium", which in turn makes her grow into a giant. The military quickly apprehend her and add her to their collection of "monsters" - B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link (Will Arnett) and Insectosaurus, all under the watchful eye of their "warden", General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland). Things really become interesting when an alien going by the name of Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) follows the trail of the quantonium to Earth and seeks to use the substance to take over the galaxy, or whatever else he can manage.

Stephen ColbertStephen Colbert (via last.fm)

Like many other Dreamworks animated productions, one of the first things you'll notice is the impressive star power behind the computer-rendered characters. Beyond the names already listed prior, the movie also features such notable actors as Stephen Colbert as the President of the USA and Amy Poehler as the Computer. It certainly give some level of credit to the entire venture and certainly provides a completely different level of entertainment as viewers can try to figure out how these actors and actresses make themselves truly felt through their voices alone.

The film is certainly visually appealing, as are most prior Dreamworks films, although for the full effect one is advised to see it in IMAX format, given the film was specially rendered in a 3-D format as opposed to creating a standard movie and converting it into 3-D post-production. Sadly, I watched the movie in a theater that didn't even offer the basic 3-D glasses option, but that didn't take too much away from the experience.

The movie is riddled with science fiction references and pop culture jabs that is sure to entertain any hardcore geek. The greater challenge lies in getting broader audiences who don't necessarily know the nuances of geek humor to really get into the film. Without that reference point, many of the jokes come off as bland or leaning towards the highly corny side, and this many not necessarily be everyone's cup of tea. Plus, its very straightforward and slightly simplistic plot may bore older audiences while only entertaining the kiddies.

Don't get me wrong - Monsters vs Aliens is still a pretty good comedy and it will still appeal to a broad audience base. At the same time, however, it won't necessarily beat past Dreamworks blockbusters like the Shrek franchise anytime soon.

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