Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: "Megamind" More Than Mindless Superhero Action

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 19 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Megamind (2010)
Running time: 96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – PG for action and some language
WRITERS: Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons
PRODUCERS: Lara Breay and Denise Nolan Cascino
EDITOR: Michael Andrews
COMPOSERS: Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer


Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Brad Pitt, J.K. Simmons, Ben Stiller, Justin Long, Bill Hader, and Amy Poehler

It is not a rousing tale of a superhero family-that-plays-together like The Incredibles. It lacks the heartwarming, cuddliness of Despicable Me. Still, Megamind, a 2010 computer-animated movie from DreamWorks Animation, is a top notch superhero movie. It takes a different path, turning the ups-and-downs of friendship, dating, relationships, and career into a movie that mixes action comedy, romantic comedy, and superheroes.

Megamind (Will Ferrell) is a super-intelligent, blue-skinned alien who was sent here as a baby by his parents before their world was destroyed. Metro Man (Brad Pitt) also came to earth as a baby. Megamind grew up to be a supervillain, and Metro Man became a superhero and the defender of Metro City. Megamind and Metro Man have fought each other for years, and Metro Man always wins.

Then, one day, Megamind actually kills Metro Man. Metro City becomes Megamind’s playground, but he soon finds his life boring and pointless with a superhero to fight. Megamind creates a new superhero he names Titan (Jonah Hill), but instead of using his powers for good (and for fighting Megamind), Titan turns bad. Meanwhile, Megamind falls in love with Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey), a reporter he used to kidnap to irritate Metro Man. Now, Megamind and Roxanne have to save the city.

Not only is the animation sleek, gracefully, and colorful in Megamind, but it is also spectacular. As befitting a good superhero movie, there are big action set pieces, and the explosions, fights, and mass destruction look nearly as awesome as anything found in a Transformers movie. From a technical point of view, this film should have gotten an Academy Award nomination for animated feature film and at least sound editing.

Perhaps, what held this movie back from greater acclaim is that quite a bit of Megamind seems recycled from other films, even if those similarities were unintentional. It seems like the odd man out, especially because before Megamind debuted, movie audiences had already seen a 3D animated film about a supervillain, the aforementioned Despicable Me. While Despicable Me is a heartwarming tale of a reluctant surrogate father and three cute little girls, Megamind is actually an adult-leaning film about mid-life crisis and relationship disappointments.

Megamind rises above any faults because of its voice cast. They tackle the various comic tones of the screenplay with wit and, occasionally, with style and substance. I think Will Ferrell is a brilliant comic actor with impeccable timing. Truthfully, Megamind would be pedestrian filler material, but Ferrell’s voice performance offers so many textures and layers that add richness to Megamind the character.

Tina Fey’s sparkling, witty turn creates a winning Lois Lane-like star reporter in Roxanne Ritchi. Brad Pitt proves, as he did in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003), that voice-acting for animated characters is not his thing. Jonah Hill is surprisingly good as the spurned nerd-turned-villain, and J.K. Simmons is pitch perfect as the Warden of Metro City Prison.

The advertising campaign for Megamind failed the film because it emphasized the fantastic action scenes, special effects, inventive mechanical creatures and devices, while ignoring the heart of the story. Megamind is about the search to be accepted, to belong, and to be loved. It is a Woody Allen-like take on the superhero movie, and is, in fact, much better than Allen’s recent relationship comedies.

8 of 10

Thursday, March 03, 2011

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