Monsters vs. Aliens: 3D IMAX Fun (Sorry, Mr. Ebert)

I don’t often think that my favorite film critic of all time, Roger Ebert, is TOTALLY off the mark, but I think that he missed by a good degree when he said about 3D film, “3-D is a distraction and an annoyance. Younger moviegoers may think they like it because they’ve been told to, and picture quality is usually far from their minds. But for anyone who would just like to be left alone to see the darned thing, like me, it’s a constant nudge in the ribs saying never mind the story, just see how neat I look.” I didn’t like it because I was told to, I liked it because it further enhanced the action and the visual gags, and it never once distracted me from the story. There’s little story to be had, but it’s a light fun spring affair, with some likable 1950s horror parodies sprinkled in amidst a couple of neat action set pieces which are helped, not hindered, by the crisp and clear 3D imagery– especially in IMAX format.

Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is preparing for her wedding to Derek (voiced by Paul Rudd), when a giant meteorite strikes her– don’t you hate when that happens? Instead of being asked why she was so frazzled and dirty, she’s shooed into her wedding ceremony… where she promptly starts glowing, then growing– to a height of 49 3/4 inches, specifically. The government takes her and locks her away in an underground lair, where she’s determined to lose this abnormality and get her life back. Unfortunately, she’s considered a “monster,” and housed with Dr. Cockroach (voiced by TV’s House, Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link (voiced by Will Arnett), and B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen), allusions to The Fly, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, and The Blob, respectively. They’re eventually let out when a giant robot is sent to Earth by an evil alien named Gallaxar (voiced by Rainn Wilson, better known as Dwight Schrute), and they hold an epic battle with the robot… but the world still doesn’t treat them like they’re normal… and Susan has boy issues… and then Gallaxar arrives…

… look, the plot doesn’t matter in a film like this. It’s a very basic parody with plenty of allusions, a bit of heart sprinkled in, and gags and actions thrown in liberally. I happen to think the film is at its funniest when parodying the old cliches of this genre, like the guy and girl driving out in their convertible to make out when something scary shoots out of the sky, or the woman who shrieks when she sees the first monster’s photo… and the second… and the third. Certain bits go on too long, such as an extended musical number where the President attempts to communicate with the alien by playing the Close Encounters notes (big laugh), then the Beverly Hills Cop theme riff (mild laugh), then the entire theme while dancing around goofily and lights flash everywhere (very lukewarm laugh despite the big effort). Also, despite the film’s efforts to make all of the characters interesting and heartfelt, the only one that really attracts the attention of the audience besides the main character is B.O.B., who steals the show with his happy demeanor and stoner’s laugh.

But the 3D in IMAX form? There are shots of space which blew me away, and the big action setpiece in San Francisco I thought was beautifully done. The whole affair is genial and fast-paced. While the human characters look like their faces were stolen from the board game Guess Who?, the character design is simple and effective. I’m not surprised that it’s a big hit with kids, since it’s a sci-fi action comedy for the boys with a female lead and cute creatures for the girls. This was bound to fall short of the best Dreamworks animated features (Kung Fu Panda and Antz), but it’s on par with the Shrek sequels and well above Shark Tale. I also hope that this trend of 3D IMAX animated film continues, despite what Mr. Ebert says. It’s a thrilling and engaging new cinematic artform when done correctly. The one gripe I do have that I’m sure Mr. Ebert would have as well… do we HAVE to have the paddleball and the water spit in EVERY 3D film?

~ by russellhainline on April 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “Monsters vs. Aliens: 3D IMAX Fun (Sorry, Mr. Ebert)”

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. […] Animated Feature: 9. Monsters vs. Aliens 8. 9 7. Fantastic Mr. Fox 6. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 5. Coraline 4. Cloudy with a Chance of […]

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