Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Frank Review of "Monsters vs. Aliens" (2009)

The Short Version?
The title about covers it.
What Is It? CGI Kid Flick.
Who's In It? The voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Kiefer Sutherland, etc. etc. etc.
Should I See It? No.

I honestly don't have a lot to say about this movie. I've seen the first couple Shreks, and was amused by them. They were thin and as heavy in pop culture references as Saturday Night Live, but they had some heart, and didn't offend my sensibilities. Others weren't so lucky, and I feel I understand those people better now, because MvA embodies every criticism I've heard about the Shrek franchise.

It was bold to center a CGI movie around a female lead, but there's only a handful of scenes telling her story. Susan's arc is so by-the-numbers, it actually becomes shorthand. After her extended wedding day tragedy introduction, Susan becomes a generic POV character with a few brief, obligatory nods to a sketch of a romcom heroine. Her fellow "monsters" aren't even allowed that-- just a few second origin story each. If you took the amusing side characters from another CGI flick and cast them as leads with no further development, you'd have this picture.

The movie is a rarely funny stunt-cast-a-palooza with a mundane story. In-jokes for sci-fi/monster movie aficionados arrive by the truckload for the too-easily amused. The computer graphics are smooth, but the story is completely plastic. The 3D is very in your face, but I suffered from distortion when it came to the most extreme usage, and the novelty wore off fast. Compared to the sublime use of the process on Coraline, AvM is plain obnoxious, emphasis on both "plain" and "obnoxious." There's a good deal of action, but none of it is particularly interesting, and I confess to nodding off briefly in the third act because of it. To steal a tagline from another Vs. travesty, whoever wins, we all lose.


wiec? said...

i always figure these movies are pretty much for kids. that said they do put things in them so grown ups don't want to kill themselves 1/2 way through as little billy and little suzy chuckle into their popcorn as the silly man fall down go boom.

that said, i wait until i visit my nephew and am forced to watch such stuff. my sister buys one of these movies on dvd every other week. he watches it 700 times and then it's off to the next one. why anyone (without kids) would subject themselves to these movies is beyond me.

all said though i'm glad for your review. i like Colbert and in other reviews i heard this movie tips the hat to old scifi tropes from the 50's. i figured a rental sometime down the line. now i'll just wait til i visit my sister's house and she buys it on dvd and i'm forced to watch it. again. and again. and again.

Diabolu Frank said...

Full disclosure: My sister's family is in from out of town and wanted to see it. I dislike most of this stuff, but Shrek and most of the Pixar flicks are pretty watchable. This will grate sooo much with repeat viewings, you have my sympathy.


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