If you spent a good portion of your childhood weekend afternoons watching monster movies, then you no doubt are attracted to this latest animated feature from Dreamworks. And your feelings won’t be betraying you. . . not entirely, anyway.
“Monsters vs. Aliens” is, after all, an homage to classic 1950s sci-fi. But not too long after “MVA” begins, you’re reminded that we’re living in a time when Shrek is King of the Monsters, not Godzilla. And then your party is pooped on just a little bit. (And yes, the Mike Myers voiced one makes a wee bit of a guest appearance. See if you can spot him.)
In true old-school sci-fi fashion, an ordinary human being is transformed into a (not so) deadly monster by coming in contact with a meteorite crash landing to Earth. This time a young woman, Susan (Reese Witherspoon) is turned into a giant (and just a giant) on her wedding day. Susan is quickly whisked away to a top secret government base where other monsters, who have been gathered over the past 50 years, are imprisoned. You’ve seen the ads so you know the monsters keeping Susan (now known as Ginormica) company are B.O.B. (based on The Blob and voiced by Seth Rogen), Dr. Cockroach (based on The Fly and voiced by Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link (based on The Creature from the Black Lagoon and voiced by Will Arnett) and Insectasaurus, who really doesn’t say anything, but is an obvious tip of the hat to Japan’s own Mothra.
Soon after Susan realizes that she’s doomed to live out the rest of her life as a caged monster, an alien being named Gallaxhar invades Earth and the monsters are set free to save the day. It’s fight or die and Susan is forced into her role as Ginormica.
Yes, the 1950s monster movie homage is there, but it’s not consistent and too often tends to take a backseat to your run-of-the-mill goony Dreamworks Animation humor. You know the drill – plenty of annoying pop culture gags. For example, when the President of the United States (Stephen Colbert) first attempts to communicate with the newly arrived alien presence, he does so via synthesizer on which he plays the familiar “Close Encounters” tune, which quickly changes to “Axel F” from “Beverly Hills Cop.” That’s the quality of humor here. So if you think “Shrek” is funny, then come on down and laugh your balls off with “Monsters vs Aliens.”
There is a saving grace, however, and it’s “MVA’s” 3D animation. Unlike “Coraline” which used 3D to submerge its viewers into its world, therefore enhancing the storytelling experience, “MVA” provides more of a theme-park animated 3D attraction experience, sans all of the vomit inducing shaking and swaying of the audience’s seats. So when “MVA’s” jokes just aren’t doing it for you, there’s still plenty to ooohh and aaahh at as the blockbuster summer action visuals here are in great abundance. And again, it’s in 3D. The majority of the movie either has you floating about a giant space station or caught in the middle of a monster battle and it’ll give monster movie fans a nerd boner for sure.
In short, if you’re going to see “Monsters vs. Aliens,” the only way to do it is in 3D. Looking back, I think I’d be miserable just watching a 2D screening of this movie. The 3D visuals are an enormous part of “MVA’s” experience and they also help to cover up the lackluster “comedy.” It’s a ride – that’s all it is. So why not enjoy the ride at its full capacity? As a movie, however, it’s just forgettable fluff.