I recently had the privilege of seeing the newest DreamWorks animated film, Monsters vs. Aliens, not only in 3D, but also on an IMAX screen. Monsters vs. Aliens was wholly conceived, developed and authored in 3D, and filled to the brim with wonderful effects. The animated film featured a tremendously talented voice cast with a heart-warming story at its core.
Monsters vs. Aliens begins with a gigantic meteor falling from the sky and bonking Susan Murphy, played by Reese Witherspoon, on the head moments before her wedding. Minutes later Susan is cleaned up and standing at the altar when she inexplicably begins to grow, and within moments is nearly 50 feet tall. The United States military quickly capture her and move her to a secret military compound. There, she meets a rather rag-tag group of monsters: half man, half cockroach Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie); half ape, half fish, The Missing Link (Will Arnett); a 350 foot grub named Insectosaurus; and B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), an indestructible, oblivious blob of blue goo. For the time being, it seems that Susan is doomed to spend the rest of her life away from her family and fiancé, locked in a cold government facility ruled over by General W.R. Monger, hilariously voiced by Kiefer Sutherland.
Things take an interesting turn in Monsters vs. Aliens when Gallaxhar (voiced by the always funny Rainn Wilson), sends evil alien robots to earth to retrieve the meteor that had crash landed on Susan. Gallaxhar needs the intergalactic chemical compound that was in the meteor to create an alien planet for him to rule over. When the United States military proves no match for the invading robots, General Monger convinces the President, played by Stephen Colbert, to use his stable of monsters to combat the robots in exchange for their freedom. Susan and her new friends must battle to save the planet from Gallaxhar’s diabolical ambition and win their freedom.
The plot of Monsters vs. Aliens definitely has the standard “your uniqueness is what makes you special” theme that many cartoons like to portray. But this story is fun to watch because of its humor and sheer exuberance. Seth Rogen does Pineapple Express for younger audiences as a blob with no brain, but a lot of heart. Watching B.O.B. try to hit on a plate of Jell-O at a party is definitely giggle-inducing. Hugh Laurie (Stuart Little and House) as Dr. Cockroach is a spot-on British mad scientist, down to the perfect mad scientist laugh. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) has some great moments as the wannabe macho, The Missing Link. Of course he is never quite as fit or ready for battle as he would like to think, and oddly enough, The Missing Link turns out to be the most loyal and concerned of the bunch. Kiefer Sutherland (24) is at first unrecognizable as fast-talking military lifer W.R. Monger, but perfectly captures the almost mindless bravado and confidence of a 90 year old military lifer who doesn’t look a day over 45. Rainn Wilson (The Office) as Gallaxhar is one of the funniest egomaniacal intergalactic overlord wannabes I have had the pleasure of seeing. Apparently coffee is always too hot even in outer space, though substantially more painful when ingested through an ear instead of the mouth. Academy award-winner Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) as Susan is sunny at first, then convincingly sad, and later triumphant. It is so rare to see a female protagonist in cartoons, but watching Susan learn to harness her newly found abilities is something every little girl should see. Even Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) gets in on the act as a bumbling President of the United States who can dance and play a mean keyboard. With so much voice talent, it would be really difficult to have gone wrong with Monsters vs. Aliens, and directors Rob Letterman (Shark Tale) and Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2) do not disappoint.
Monsters vs. Aliens was a fun, comedic romp that had the adults in the audience laughing as much as the children. The great 3D effects brought out the childlike awe in everyone, young or old. Monsters vs. Aliens proved to be a great film that I would recommend to anyone.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Rated PG. Runtime 90 min. Theatrical release 3/27/2009.
PR.com Rating: B+