Archive for April 3rd, 2009


Movie Review: Monsters vs. Aliens




Fun, cool, gimmicky little movie.


Starring (the voices of) Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Keifer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, and Stephen Colbert. Directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon.


Story: Susan Murphy (Witherspoon) is getting married and couldn’t be happier. The groom is Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd), a TV weatherman for a station in Modesto, CA. When a meteorite containing Quantonium (the most powerful substance known in the universe) heads to Earth it lands on Susan. She escapes from underneath it, dusts herself off, and returns to the wedding. During the nuptials she grows to 49’11” tall and is immediately captured by the government.


She awakes to find herself in a gigantic prison. She meets her captor General W.R. Monger (Sutherland), a man whose mission has been to capture all the “monsters” that he can. Her monster friends are Dr. Cockroach, PhD. (Laurie), a genius who made a machine that was supposed to give humans cockroach features but instead turned the upper half of his body into a human/cockroach hybrid; B.O.B. (Rogen), a former tomato injected with a secret serum that made him the brainless mass of jelly he is; Insectosaurus, a grub worm that grew to gigantic size via the nuclear explosion on the island he was living on; and The Missing Link (Arnett), a half fish/half human that’s been around for 20,000 years and was caught terrorizing Cocoa Beach.


When a giant metal alien probe lands in the San Fran area the President (Colbert) heads up the envoy to greet it. After a musical interlude (which references “Close Encounters” and includes the “Axle F theme”) irritates the probe it –of course- retaliates, which then leads the President to call for retaliation. Realizing that the alien probe could cause massive damage General W.R. Monger steps in and offers… “Monsters.” It’s now up to Susan (renamed Ginormica), B.O.B., Dr. Cockroach, The Missing Link, and Insectosaurus to save the day, which they do.


When Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), a squid-based alien, finds the probe has been destroyed he targets Earth. In the meantime the monsters have done their duty and are released. Susan finds that her groom-to-be is a shallow, self-centered twit and is better off without him. When Gallaxhar makes it to Earth he sends a greeting reminiscent of the aliens from “Mars Attacks!” (“My name is Gallaxhar. I come in peace. I mean you no harm. Hand over your planet or you shall die…”) Gallaxhar abducts Susan because she is infused with Quantonium and it’s up to the other monsters to form together to save her and the planet.


I liked it. Before going to see the movie I read through other critic reviews citing that the movie wasn’t “Shrek,” or anything like “The Incredibles” or “Monsters, Inc.” And that’s true. This movie is based more on action sequences than those movies. It’s not as witty as it could have been or that the trailers and TV spots may have led you to believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s enjoyable and probably more “grown up” than “Shrek” or some of the other CGI animated movies are. I got to see this in IMAX 3-D, which did make it sort of gimmicky with some of the scenes (a rubber paddle-ball coming at you, a hand reaching toward you, flying through outer space, etc.) This shouldn’t affect watching the movie because a majority of it feels 2-D anyway.


And there are enough references to go around. “X-Files,” “Spaceballs,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Mars Attacks!” “E.T.,” “The Blob,” “Godzilla,” “The 50-Foot Woman,” “Independence Day,” and other films are given homage without leaning on them to make a point or make you feel like you should be watching them instead of what’s onscreen. Yes, there may be a lot of Fifties scifi B-movie references but there’s enough contemporary stuff that it all evens out.


I’ll go on to say that if this inspires a sequel I wouldn’t mind being in line to see that, too.


My grade: B