voiced by Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Keifer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert
written by Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon, Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger
directed by Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon
Dreamworks, 2009, 94 mins., Rated PG
***1/2 (out of ****)
I love, love, love, love, LOVED this film! MONSTERS VS. ALIENS was virtually made for me. With all the geeky shout-out references to '50's sci-fi & giant monster movies to all the hilarious jokes that made me laugh a good sixty seconds after that jokes had ended and I missed the following two because of that - well, it's safe to say MONSTERS VS. ALIENS is currently my #1 favorite movie right now. And before we get into the deep, thorough review I know you're all looking for, I just gotta mention I wasn't able to dish out the big bucks for the 3-D experience, so it's strictly 2-D for me - but the great thing is, the film is still oh-so-beautiful to look at regardless, the 3-D, I imagine, is just nice frosting on the cake. If you want to know more about the flick, then read on, but my verdict I'll decree right now: go bloody see it!
The main jist of the flick is that Susan Murphy's (Witherspoon) near perfect life (just about to get married to a seemingly awesome weather anchor) obliterates when a asteroid lands ontop of her, and instead of squashing her to nothingness, she grows to gigantic proportions. The US military quickly seizes Susan and confines her to HQ, where she meets up with The Missing Link (Arnett), a underwater monster; B.O.B. (Rogen), a monster that looks like blue jello; and Dr. Cockroach Ph.D (Laurie), a mad scientist-turned-cockroach via bad experiment. However, once a giant robot alien thingy attacks San Francisco, the government asks for the monsters help, and in return, they can have their freedom. This is all fine and dandy, but there's also this whole big alien invasion thing they gotta defeat before they can do that...
Just offhand, these are some of the sci-fi references I caught and remembered from MONSTERS VS. ALIENS either by monster/alien design, dialogue, or situations: MOTHRA (1961), THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), REPTILICUS (1961), THE FLY (1986), GODZILLA AGAINST MOTHRA (1964), JAWS (1975), ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN (1958), CLOSE ENCOUTNERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), GOJIRA (1954), and THE BLOB (1958). Hell, they were even able to get the classic "Welheim" scream from STAR WARS (1977) in [and yes, I know that sound didn't originate in STAR WARS, it's just that's the most recognizably known flick it was used in]. I think half of my enjoyment of this movie was catching as many references as I could. Seriously, I could have a field-day just matching one reference to some old '50's sci-fi thing. Oh, the fun!
I haven't laughed this hard in a while. Not even the frakking brilliant I LOVE YOU, MAN had me trying to regain my composure. Unfortunately, my friend didn't find the flick as funny as me, but that seems to be a overwhelmingly held opinion from online reviewers. Oh well, I dug it; I also dug 2006's Pink Panther, and it seems no one else did, so I'm a oddity. There's sooo many things that had me cracking up for a long bloody time: B.O.B getting ahold of a gun, looking at it in awe, "Hey, check this out!" and shoots a alien; B.O.B laughing hysterically whilst thrown into the air; the INCONVEINENT TRUTH joke; hell, there's even some adult-oriented jokes that are subvert enough that kid's won't get it, but the teen/adult demograph are gonna blow up laughing.
Sure, perhaps MVA could have benefited from a better script, but it's only real downfall for me is that it didn't fully deliver on its title: I wanted to see some monsters fighting some aliens and wrecking some ginormous destruction! But instead, we're limited to one sequence which, although not entirely fulfilling, is sufficient enough to tide me over. As far as 'getting' the characters, I had no problamos. So, in a nutshell, the script's fine enough. Not perfect, which is surprising considering that it seems like a gazillion people worked on it, but it works.
Voice-wise, this ensemble cast was perfect. Witherspoon was just fine as Susan, though I wouldn't have minded if she put a bit more emotion into her character; Keifer Sutherland owned the movie as General W. R. Monger, spitting orders and taking names; and then there's The Revelation: Seth Rogen was finally not a obnoxious dick who ruined the movie-going enjoyment factor. In fact, Rogen is the second best thing about this movie (the first, of course, being the fact that's it's about freakin' monsters fighting aliens!!!!!! On a grand-scale level!!!! My childhood dreams coming true...but sorta not....didn't imagine it being a kiddy DreamWorks movie...) Rainn Wilson (TV: THE OFFICE) and Stephen Colbert (TV: THE COLBERT REPORT) always stole the screen as the manipulative evil alien dude Gallaxhar and The President, respectively. This President was 'da bomb, and Gallaxhar is perhaps the best alien villain ever put to screen.
Visually speaking, the flick's a spectacle. The cityscape of San Francisco is beautiful, as is its subsequent destruction by Giant Robot and Susan. Aside from amazing and highly entertaining to watch, the entire scene is awe-inspiringly rendered with the mass amount of debris flying all over the place, and the havoc wrecked on the streets and cars. The level of detail - and at times, realism - is staggering. If a viewer is consumed with negative comments towards this film, one irrefutable aspect that they can't touch is that MVA is as visually stunning as you can get. Yes, I'm even counting the earth scenes from WALL-E. As another example of the level of detail, I present to you Insectosaurus, whose furry skin is so richly rendered in detail and motion; hell, I felt this beast was more three-dimensional and alive than Yoda in EPISODEs II & III. I could very well go on and on praising the movie on how perfect and beautiful it looks. Granted, I'm not about to give this film a trophy just yet for its technical skills, but it's some pretty damn tough competition.
Simply put, MONSTERS VS. ALIENS was awesome, and seriously one hell of a enjoyable experience. Take your kids to see it, see it yourself (there's plenty of things to make adult audience members get into it on their own), but I urge you not to wait for DVD; this flick was made for the big screen. It's better than KUNG FU PANDA and nearly as perfect as WALL-E, and I can't think of any other recent animated films as good as those to compare this gem to. Suffice it to say, I'll be in line opening day for MONSTERS VS. ALIENS 2!