Monsters Vs Aliens

Director    Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Starring    Reese Witherspoon, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd
Release    27 MAR (US) 3 APR (UK)    Certificate PG
3 stars


21st April 2009

Like so many brides to be, Susan Murphy's wedding day consisted of getting up early to be faffed and fluffed over; sneaking off to see her groom before the ceremony; being squished by a quantonium-laden meteorite and subsequently transformed into a 49-and-a-half-foot government secret codenamed Ginormica. It's a timeless tale.

Susan/Ginormica (Witherspoon) is labelled a monster after her disastrous wedding, during which she is captured in a lovely homage to Attack of The 50 Foot Woman, and incarcerated at the hands of Patton-esque General W.R Monger (Sutherland)... but she is not alone.

Her cell-mates are all nods to B-movie classics: Dr Cockroach PhD (Laurie) is a mad scientist who fused his DNA with that of a cockroach; The Missing Link (Arnett) is a smooth talking, wisecracking creature from a blue lagoon; B.O.B (Rogen) is a brainless, charming, gelatinous Blob; and Insectosaurus is a 100 foot fluffy bug that shoots snot strings from it's nose. Yeah, we didn't see that B-movie either. Ginormica and her new monster buddies have been put out of sight and out of mind as far as the FBI are concerned, until synth-rocking President Hathaway (Colbert) offers them their freedom in return for defeating an alien invasion headed by the evilly business-like Gallaxhar (Wilson).

The casting is a bit of a comedy geek's wet dream; Arnett, Laurie, Colbert, Wilson and the glorious Paul Rudd all hold their own in the voice acting stakes, while Rogen, through B.O.B, gets all the best lines (and all the girls). There are some real laughs to be had (though maybe not as many as you'd think SEVEN writers could squeeze out) particularly during a scene based in the President's Dr. Strangelove-themed war room, and the story moves along at a nice pace - despite being as transparent as B.O.B. Early action sequences are astounding, and the perilous battle on Golden Gate Bridge had the children in the cinema gasping and hiding behind their giant popcorn.

Animation-wise, Monsters Vs Aliens is as good as DreamWorks have ever produced, with little touches such as Ginormica's hair and the way her jumpsuit creases when she moves standing out as particularly noteworthy. The 3D is equally impressive, though after a while you'll forget you're even wearing the glasses: it's story first, effects second here.

There's a very good heart stencilled onto this movie, but little warmth at its core. You don't really care if Gallaxhar's evil plot comes to fruition and you cheer when Ginormica tells her douche fiancÚ where to get off, but only because you know you're supposed to. Some of the action sequences in the final third of the movie are awkward set-pieces which seem to have been written solely with the videogame in mind, a common problem in blockbuster movies at the moment, CG or otherwise.

But that's not to say it's all bad. Monsters Vs Aliens is sweet and a harmless way to spend a couple of hours; it's also by far the best family film out at the moment. Pixar may remain king of the animated jungle, but DreamWorks just keep nipping at their heels.

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