Skip to main content

Have I mentioned I saw Monsters vs. Aliens?

It’s possible that Pixar is becoming a blight on the world of animation. Yes, they do some really great work (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), but they’ve also done some clunkers (Cars, Wall-E). Their greatest sin, though, is that they apparently radiate a variation of the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field, so that any other animated film – especially if done with CG – is automatically judged inferior.

There is some justification to this, but you don’t see every live action film being compared to, say, the films of Ingmar Bergman (well, except by brooding people wearing dark glasses sitting in dim coffee shops smoking clove cigarettes discussing cinema, damn you). In the traditional film world, it’s accepted that different artists turn out different products. In the animated world, everyone is supposed to match or surpass Pixar, or so it seems.

Needless to say, that’s just a crock.

Monsters vs Aliens is to your typical Pixar production as Spielberg is to Scorsese. And I have to stress “typical” because MVA exceeds several Pixar films that I can think of, just as Spielberg’s Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark clobber, oh, Kundun or The Departed. And if you don’t think those films should be compared to each other, then you get my point about comparing all animated films to Pixar, thank you very much.

This is the first modern 3-D film I’ve seen. I was impressed. Initially the glasses were a little disturbing, but within minutes of the film beginning I forgot about the glasses and enjoyed the effect. With few exceptions, MVA avoids all the old-school gags of having something thrown out at the audience. Instead, it was content with letting us view a world of depth, in addition to traditional height and width.

As to MVA itself, I liked it. It’s a light-hearted romp through the simple concept of doing a mash-up of B-movie monsters. We have Ginormica (The Fifty Foot Woman), The Missing Link (The Creature), Dr. Cockaroach (The Fly), Insectasaurus (Mothra), and B.O.B. (The Blob). It’s not quite as awesome as a film with those actual creatures might have been, but blame copyright for the near-miss. The film is light on its feet, a little light in the head, and just a light confection of enjoyment. I laughed out loud and had a good time.

What’s to complain about? Well, it could have been a little smarter, some of the humor gets repetitious, and the villain is just this side of “meh.” The film comes dangerously close to grinding to a halt when the villain’s on-screen. Indeed, once his giant robot is defeated, he doesn’t seem quite so threatening. And yet, somehow, he still must be. This is where the writing gets weak. They came up with this absolutely awesome alien probe that you see in the trailers, and then couldn’t come up with any sort of follow-up that could match it.

Oh well, there’s still B.O.B., who for obvious reason is My Hero. He’s an indestructible gelatinous mass that has no brain (“Turns out, you don’t need one!”). He’s a trifle on-note and I don’t care. He kept me entertained and made me laugh. I especially loved how he handled aliens, and appreciate his love for a good Jello mold.

I was surprised by General W.R. Monger. At first glance, such a character – on name alone – could give offense. But in reality, he turns out to be a man of principle and honor. He is the monsters’ jailer. He promises them freedom in exchange for defeating the enormous alien robot probe. When they succeed, he lives up to his word and releases them. Further, at the climatic battle he comes to the rescue, just in the nick of time. In the end, far from being an insult to the men and women of the military, he’s a shining example of what they truly are. I was amazed.

So MVA wins me over on good will and heart. Loved the 3-D (even if I don’t get what the big deal is), loved the animation (the battle on the Golden Gate Bridge is a stand-out), loved most of the characters (thank you, General Monger, and long live B.O.B.!).

See it, enjoy it, and forget the endless comparisons to Pixar. If people continue to compare everyone’s animation to Pixar, I’m going to be forced to compare their work to Satoshi Kon’s, and in that fight they have already lost.


Midgard Dragon said…
Clunker? WALL-E? You realize you just slammed their possibly most critically acclaimed film ever, right? You realize you're one of maybe 5 people on Earth who might legitimately think that? You realize you're a complete loser with terrible taste for thinking it, right? Yeah, watch it again, it's 1,000x better than Monsters vs. Aliens (or anything else DreamWorks has done) and remember it won several *Best Picture* awards from prominent critics groups. "Clunkers" don't do that, especially not animated Clunkers. It's hard enough for an animated film to get recognized as just a "good animated film" much less one that wins Best Picture awards. Face facts, you're insane, go watch the brilliant movie that is WALL-E again and see the truth.
bob said…
Five people? Then I consider myself in good company. For a more detailed explanation of why Wall-E is a clunker, please read my original review (go here), written after my second viewing of the film, and unmodified after seeing it, yet again, on DVD. Short version: I have a high tolerance level for bad cinema, animated or otherwise, but a low tolerance for being lectured to.

Popular posts from this blog

Not the Hero We Deserve, But the Hero We Need

The Dark Knight is the best film I’ve seen in years. Not just the best “superhero” film, but the best film of any type. It’s not perfect, not quite a masterpiece, but it’s flaws are, to me, tiny and overwhelmed by the time the film ends. While relatively bloodless, it is consistently brutal, not just in what it depicts but in the themes that drive it. TDK is a film for adults, please leave the kids at home.Let’s deal with those “flaws” first, the largest being the character Rachel Dawes. In Batman Begins, I blamed Katie Holmes. Her acting was weak, to say the least, which is regrettable in that who she is and what she says and does are important to the film. Critics agreed and either for that or other reasons, Katie was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is a better actress. Yet here she’s weak, real weak. Maybe it’s the character, not the actress, which is frustrating because Rachel is a pivotal character. The film, at almost two and a half hours, might be a shade long. Having said t…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

With its release on home video, we come to the unsurprising and yet still bitter disappointment that is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Unsurprising, because of a lousy director. Disappointing, because it should have been great. To explain further will involve light spoilers; I will avoid larger giveaways. In a galaxy far, far away, the Empire continues to consolidate its power after the fall of the Republic (see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith). Toward that end, they are assembling a giant battle station, the Death Star. The Rebel Alliance plots a way of finding out what’s going on and perhaps, in the process, save their collective butts. Rebellious galivanting ensues. All of the elements necessary to craft a good story are here, yet none of them work. The blame lies almost exclusively at the feet of director Gareth Edwards. This is his third film (after Monsters and Godzilla) and his failings as a director stand out in each. The major problems with each film involve the peopl…

Conspiracy (2001)

The Holocaust remains an unfathomable atrocity, the unholy benchmark by which all such are measured. Stalin and Mao both make Hitler look like an amateur when it came to sheer body count, yet the Holocaust remains unique. It seems to boil down to two reasons. First, the Nazis were terrifying in their systematic approach to the slaughter of Jews, driven by their ideological belief that they were acting for the greater good of all mankind. And second, they hunted Jews in any land they conquered; the goal wasn't merely to "purify" Germany, but the world. Few films have captured these points as well as HBO's 2001 film, Conspiracy. On January 20, 1942, a group of senior officials of Nazi Germany met at a lovely house in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. The purpose of their meeting was to determine the "final solution" for the Jews. The Wannsee Conference developed what is referred to as the Wannsee Protocol. A single copy of the document remains. Conspiracy, drawi…