REVIEW- Monsters vs. Aliens

The eaglet has landed
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Inquirer Libre March 30, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens
Directed by Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon

MvsAAs of this writing, I’ve collected 5 of the 8 burger meal toys of this franchise, but that only means I find the characters cute. DreamWorks Animation’s latest family cartoon Monsters vs. Aliens is big on extravaganza, short on relevance. Come to think of it, I don’t need another plastic toy.

Fun enough and safe for the family, MvsA has all the ingredients of typical computer animations like cute and quirky characters and comical spoofs of other movies, but overall, MvsA isn’t even as fun as DreamWorks’ previous offerings like Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, but can be entertaining for parents and adults with a good B-movie background.

Susan (Reese Witherspoon) gets hit by a giant meteorite minutes before her wedding, transforming her into a 50-foot woman. She is taken to a secret military base where other “monsters” are kept, namely the mad scientist Dr. Cockroach (voiced by TV’s Dr. House, Hugh Laurie), the half-fish, half-human Missing Link (Will Arnett), the blue gel-thingy Bicarbonate Ostylezene Benzoate or B.O.B. (Seth Rogen) and the superenormous Insectosaurus. Susan gets the callsign Ginormica.

An evil alien overlord Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) sends a giant robot to Earth to retrieve the powerful quantonium trapped in Susan’s body, but this invasion prompts the US government to activate the monster team, including its newest member Ginormica, to defeat Gallaxhar.

To make a list of MvsA’s references to other sci-fi movies, off the bat, the movie begins with a planet exploding similar to the opening of Superman Returns. Ginormica is from Attack of the 50-foot Woman (1958), Dr. Cockroach is The Fly (1958). B.O.B. is a fusion of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes andThe Blob (1958), and Link is the Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Do people know Mothra, the giant moth that battled Godzilla at some point in the 50s? I think I saw this over Channel 9 when I was young. The tiny twins in their flying carriage calling out the giant Mosura (1961) with their weird song. Then there’s the five musical notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Vulcan hand-sign from Star Trek, clones from Star Wars EpII: Attack of the Clones, some Men In Black and even the war room from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

No big voice performance here from the cast of big-named stars, except maybe Rogen who sounds as BOB-ish as B.O.B. can get. He has the funniest lines.  Artwork and design sometimes looks great, sometimes a little sparse. The 3D environment looks like the film is set in a more colorful version of Japanese Ultraman-type miniature city, mixed with color shadings from Bob The Builder type claymation sets, but I don’t see here any breakthrough in the technology. It’s hard not to refer to Pixar here, but they did the monsters before and it worked mighty fine.

The bottom-line is still characters and story, and even if this movie represents the beginning of the future in mass visual entertainment, Monsters vs Aliens is just one small step for movies that tries to sound like it has made a giant leap for mankind.


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