Monsters vs Aliens

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Monsters are Always Bigger in 3D

2009_monsters_vs_aliens_009

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogan

By Tom Bevis

The Blob!  The Creature From the Black Lagoon!  The Fly!  Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman!  These movies will forever be cradled in our memories as monster flicks that shook our souls.  Okay, maybe that last one is a little obscure, but there’s no denying that the others were trademarks in a genre still struggling for legitimacy in our market.  It seems that legitimacy may finally be official as Dreamworks pay homage to these films, and several others, and rockets the genre into the spotlight with their latest animated offering: Monsters Versus Aliens.

The story is centered around Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon), a young woman who is hit by a meteorite on her wedding day, causing her to grow to a prodigious size.  She is then seized by the government and imprisoned in a top secret facility along with a talking blue blob, an amphibious monster, and a man-sized cockroach (voiced by Seth Rogan, Will Arnett, and Hugh Laurie, respectively).  When aliens invade the planet, looking for the very meteorite that struck Susan, the monsters are asked to serve as Earth’s last defense.

Monsters Versus Aliens is the perfect example of animated film adapting to suit both young and adult audiences.  There is the colorful, fast-paced action and quick comedy that kids like in movies, and then there is a deeper sense of humor for adults.  The film’s truest charm, though, is the constant references to the monster and alien films to which this animation pays homage. 

The animation is a display of how far these digitally rendered animations have come since the stiff and straight graphics of Disney / Pixar’s Toy Story.  We now see each strand of hair on every head, wrinkles and laugh-marks, we see blades of grass wave in the wind and clouds morph in mid-sail.  This method has evolved into a truly realized artistic method, and the results only seem to be getting better with each film.

The film boasts some of the best voice talent I’ve ever seen in an animation, pairing distinctive and identifiable voices such as those of Seth Rogan and Stephen Colbert with voices that are more flexible, such as Kiefer Sutherland and Hugh Laurie.  Miscasting voices to characters is one of the most crippling flaws animated films can make, but here, the voices never grow stock and never bend out of their established personas. 

I was lucky enough to see this film with a gaggle of young children (ages approximately three to ten, both male and female) and for the first time in such a situation, each and every one of them were quietly enthralled in the film for its entire running time.  This is no easy with such a diverse group, making it a must-see for families with a variety of children.  Or, if you’re into the nostalgia of monster movies gone by, this film was definitely made for you.

4/5

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Author: Tom Bevis

Tom Bevis is a ne'er-do-well residing in Southern California where he frequently neglects the variable San Diego climate to spend hours pondering over his PS4 collection struggling to decide what to play. He has recently taken over as lead writer of the indie comic Feral Boy and Gilgamesh, the back catalog of which you can read at feralboyandgilgamesh.com. He also hates writing about himself in the third person.

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