Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monsters Vs. Aliens (3-D)

"The Ginormica Monologues"

It's the perfect wedding day for Sally Murphy (voice of Reese Witherspoon, cracked on the boil): she has the perfect dress, the perfect church, and the perfect groom in fat-headed weatherman Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd). But it's all in the timing. Just after a little pre-nuptial spat about honeymooning in Paris or Fresno, the bride-to-be gets squashed by a meteorite. At the altar, everyone comments that she's positively glowing...but...glowing green! And she goes from meteoric to all metaphoric, by growing enormously, dwarfing her puny groom and scientifically smashing the church to splinters. I kept waiting for the parents to say "our little girl's grown up!" but no such luck.* Pretty soon, the Army led by General W.R. Monger (a gruff Kiefer Sutherland, having fun) fires hypodermics in her butt and Gulliver her to the ground, where she awakens in one of those cavernous U.S. installations we only wish we had with a bunch of other monsters Monger's captured since the atomic testing days of the 50's. There's the Missing Link (Will Arnett), a Blob named B.O.B. (Seth Rogen in a bit of typecasting), and the insane Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), as well as a giant Japanese moth creature called Insectizoid. Kept prisoners by the government, they are finally called out as a last resort when Aliens, led by the evil Galaxhar (Rainn Wilson, like you've never heard him) attack the U.S. ("...they only seem to ever attack here,"** intones a Brokawed-paletted news anchor) after humiliating the President (Stephen Colbert...typecasting again).

Dreamworks and the directors (Conrad Vernon andRob Letterman of "Shrek 2" and "Shark Tale," respectively) do a nice job of plumbing the envelope of the monster-crowd giving us versions of the Mothra, the Fly, the Blob, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and the 50 ft. Woman, and instilling the politically correct message that these aren't monsters but "special" people...er, things...entities (whetever). Indeed, the entire movie plays like a therapy session for Sally to embrace her empowerment and not to see her change as an accident of Nature, so much as...a happy accident of Nature. Hey, empowerment is empowerment even if you do go up 30 dress-sizes.

The animation? Extraordinarily simplistic in a weird way. Sally looks like one of those big-eyed Keane children, and most of the men seem to be variations of Nixon (except for Derek, who looks uncannily like Conan O'Brien). The monsters are varying body-types and primary colors, so you can tell who's who when they're flitting across the screen (which they do a lot). Still, there is good planning going on, so one is never at a loss for where one is, and where the danger lies. In a totally made-up universe that can be a problem. And the 3-D effects are impressive, starting with a Dreamworks logo gag (heh), and a gratuitous paddle-ball sequence, although the 3-D-ness, sometimes comes off as having the dimensions of a pop-up book. Still, the process has come a long way, and is frequently, deliberately eye-popping. It's not enough to recommend seeing it in theaters, though, ao hopefully when it comes to DVD, they'll include the 3-D version, with glasses.

"Monsters vs. Aliens" is a Rental

* ...and I'll bet the attendess threw puffed rice, (badum-bump!)

** Personally, I think it has to do with our Immigration Policy. "Okay, you can destroy the Golden Gate Bridge...once, but promise you'll never do it again and we'll consider granting you amnesty."

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