As the studios continue the pretence that the future of film is in 3-D, Monsters. Vs. Aliens is the latest caper to hit screens with an extra dimension. After Bolt did an amiable job as jumping out of the screen, though still attempting to force a headache upon all viewers, DreamWorks new adventure is their first developed specifically for 3-D, rather that converting a 2-D version, and for their’ slapstick adventure comedies, the extra dimension could be hugely beneficial.
Swapping animals for aliens after last year’s Kung Fu Panda, Monsters Vs. Aliens, as you might, pits two un-earthly creature against each other on our planet.
After coming under attack from extra-terrestrial leader Gallaxhor, the United States task a secret army to fight back, never previously released from Area-51, but they aren’t your average team of heroes. Ginormica (Witherspoon), a woman who grew to 50 feet after exposure to a rare meteorite, the Missing Link (Arnett), half fish, half ape, B.O.B. (Rogen), a gelatinous blog, Dr. Cockroach (Laurie), a superb, but somewhat crazy, scientist, with a giant cockroach’s head on top of his body and Insectosaurus, a 350-foot grub. Together the monsters fight off Gallaxhor’s huge robot probe but whether they can withstand the evil leader’s own army is another matter.
On a different level to Pixar’s story driven films, Monsters. Vs. Aliens is one action set piece after another, with a ton of jokes thrown in along the way. While a lot of the laughs don’t come off, whenever B.O.B. is on screen, you’re likely to be in raptures. The scripted jokes are fairly tame, but Rogen’s comic timing and fantastic vocal work are by far the best thing about the film, and luckily, he’s in front of the camera quite a lot.
Monsters Vs. Aliens’ bright ‘50s styling is a another success story. While the plot is set in modern time, a lot of the animation themes draw influence from the mid-20th century.
Undoubtedly there is a lot to keep kids entertained for 94 minutes but adults might soon tire of the film’s niggles. Reese Witherspoon feels slightly out of place on the action/comedy, and the same can be said for Hugh Laurie. Their vocal work is up to scratch, merely their vocal style don’t fit the associated characters. The film also drags on a little towards the end, running out of ideas and extending the eventual final face-off.
And finally, the 3-D. Though, as mentioned above, Monsters Vs.Aliens was created specifically for 3-D, the extra dimension adds nothing to the film and merely acts as a distraction from the narrative. Sure, kids will love the gimmick of things flying out of the screen at the start of the film, and the background scenery surrounding your head in the chase sequences, but it is just that, a gimmick. The style is not uncomfortable to watch, but it’s close, and feels far from normal even after countless features in 3-D. Though in a time of economic crisis, studios are looking for all the marketing ploys they can get their hands on, so don’t be surprised to see Monsters Vs. Aliens storm to the top of the charts.