DreamWorks’ latest animated treat finds bride-to-be Susan involved in a freak accident on her wedding day that causes her to grow to 50 feet tall. She’s swiftly whisked away to a government facility, which brings an abrupt end to the nuptials. It’s at this facility that she meets and, eventually, befriends other monsters that are an assortment of various classic B-movie characters. It’s not long before a power mad alien invader, Galaxhar, threatens Earth, and the monsters are called upon to save the day.
With the directors of Shrek 2 (Conrad Vernon) and Shark Tale (Rob Letterman) at the helm, I’m sure DreamWorks were confident of this being a hit. It had a successful opening weekend in America and ended up doing similar numbers at the box office to Shark Tale ($370m), but cost approximately $100m more to make. I’m not sure that anyone would have expected it to do the staggering numbers Shrek 2 achieved.
I saw Monsters Vs Aliens in 3D on its cinema release with my nieces earlier this year. One of them exclaimed, “This is amazing!” halfway through. I wouldn’t quite say that it’s amazing but I enjoyed watching it for the second time. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable film that boasts excellent animation as well as a fantastic cast of actors lending their vocal talents to the characters.
I particularly enjoyed Kiefer Sutherland as General W.R Monger and Hugh Laurie’s Dr. Cockroach. Reece Witherspoon as Ginormica / Susan, Will Arnett as The Missing Link, Seth Rogen as B.O.B. and Rainn Wilson as evil alien overlord Gallaxhar are all great as the main characters in the movie. The main cast is accompanied by good turns from actors lending their talents to smaller characters, particularly US satirist Stephen Colbert as President Hathaway and Paul Rudd as Susan’s ex, Derek.
There are plenty of stand out scenes, most notably the excellent action sequence in San Francisco. There are numerous references to classic sci-fi and horror movies throughout, from the President greeting the Aliens by playing the opening bars from the famous piece of music in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to the Dr. Strangelove-style war room. These references will probably go over the heads of most of the younger viewers, but are a great addition to please movie geeks.
For all the vocal talent on display and the quality of the animation, it’s just a shame that the story isn’t that strong. It’s not terrible, but the focus seems to be on the action set pieces and a flurry of hit and miss gags as opposed to developing the characters and enabling you to connect with them in a way you can in other animated films. This is a problem I’ve found in a number of DreamWorks’ animated films and ultimately one that stops me enjoying them to the same extent as Pixar movies.
Unlike the cinematic release, there’s no option to view the film in 3D here. Although it’s not like you can capture the 3D experience currently available in cinemas at home just yet, so it’s not a big loss. One thing worth pointing out is that the double disc DVD and Blu-ray editions come with 3-D glasses. However, the feature on both are in standard 2-D. The 3-D glasses are for select extras. There are, however, a host of extras to enjoy.
There’s a filmmakers commentary that isn’t the most entertaining commentary you’ll ever listen to, a couple of short documentaries: Modern Monster Movie Making and The Tech of Monsters Vs Alien,s which is more of a HP advert masquerading as a documentary. Also included are some deleted scenes, a DreamWorks animation video jukebox that includes songs from their movies as well as a host of trailers.
Monsters Vs Aliens isn’t the best animated feature of the year but its entertaining and well worth a watch. A solid addition to DreamWorks’ roster even if it doesn’t quite match Pixar’s recent output.