Monsters Vs Aliens review

People are under the impression that Pixar is so successful because its humour is aimed at adults while children are entertained by the pretty colours and cute characters. It is true that Pixar films are mature, but not in their humour. After all, many of the jokes are pure slapstick and appeal to all ages; the maturity is in the plots. Look at The Incredibles, that film is about trying to reclaim the glory days of your youth, with the overarching moral that danger, duty and morality are inconsequential compared to the pursuit of greatness – a philosophy taken straight from Nietzsche.

Looks like Dreamworks have finally got that message with their answer to The Incredibles; literally, as Monsters vs Aliens desperately wants to be that film.

It isn't, but it's damn close. A cast of top-class comedians form a team of 50s B-movie monsters, including: 50-foot woman, Reese Witherspoon's faintly gynaecological-sounding Ginormica; Seth Rogen's lovable Blob without a brain, B.O.B,; Will Arnett's monster from the black lagoon, The Missing Link; Hugh Laurie's The Fly-inspired insectoid mad scientist, Dr Cockroach; and the hilarious, transgendered, Mothra-alike, Insectasaurus. Together, they team up to fight an alien invasion led by Rainn Wilson's Galaxhar. Along for the ride are monster-wrangler General W R Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) and Stephen Colbert as the President of the USA – how cool is that concept?

Unfortunately, the latter two are the weak links; both manage to take something away from the film's best characters. You really want to be knocked out by the brilliant puns, but they just don't seem to hit the button. Sutherland, in particular, simply reads the lines in his marine voice from Call of Duty, with little attempt to act them.

Witherspoon, on the other hand, goes a long way towards making me feel guilty for every bad thing I've ever said about her, generating both laughs and sympathy in every scene. The same goes for the rest of the monster squad; and this is where the film works. Whether the jokes hit or miss, you love these characters, their personality and, above all, their ridiculousness.

The film's other success is the way the piece avoids the pitfall of so many superhero offerings. Creating the characters is only half the battle, giving them something to do is as important; and Dreamworks have managed to create some dynamic action sequences. The final part of the process involves creating a suitable villain, and Galaxhar is as threatening as he is laugh-out-loud funny.

MvsA has been accused of failing because its humour is aimed squarely at kids. I ask how a child is supposed to get the Sutherland character's pun name, or Colbert playing the Close Encounters of the Third Kind theme to the aliens. They don't, but they get it when he then expands into a full on jam session, complete with moonwalking. Silly doesn't mean dumb, and it's also hilarious.

The film doesn't quite hit the classic status of The Incredibles as it does lack the intelligence necessary to riff on Nietzsche and the coolness to justify Samuel L Jackson's presence; but it is a great big, fun rollercoaster ride that is destined to be seen in 3D Imax. Though not the first modern 3D film, it is fitting that MvsA brings the medium back into the public eye as an homage to the 50s B-movies that started it, and it does so successfully. Definitely worth a watch; Galaxhar out.

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