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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Megamind Makes it Good to Be Bad…and Blue

Megamind = 3 out of 5 Stars
Megamind: No matter what happened, I was always the last chosen, the odd one out, the black sheep... the bad boy. Was this my destiny? Wait. Maybe it was! Being bad is the one thing I'm good at! Then it hit me: if I was the bad boy, then I was going to be the baddest boy of them all!
Megamind is the second animated feature this year (next to Despicable Me) to focus on the villain's side of things. It comes from Dreamworks, whose animated features tend to range from satisfying, sweet, clever types to forgettable, pop culture-heavy, jokey types. This film falls somewhere in the middle, but on the positive side. It features top notch animation and some of the best 3D effects work that I have seen this year (alongside How to Train Your Dragon and Jackass 3D, respectively). There is a stellar voiceover cast present as well. The story has some fun and clever moments, but it does not go quite as far with its premise as it potentially could, settling for a lot of easier jokes, instead of exploring more satire with its characters.


Will Ferrell voices Megamind, a brilliant super-villain, who works tirelessly to conquer Metro City and eliminate his arch-nemesis, Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt). Both Megamind and Metro Man have Superman-like origin stories, hailing from outer space, after the destruction of their planets, only to arrive on earth with different agendas. While Metro Man has awesome super powers and has been treated as an amazing specimen all his life, Megamind is simple, weak, and blue, with a giant cranium, providing him with a vast amount of creative intellect.



A frequent target in all of the frequent villainous plots is Roxanne Ritchi (voiced by Tina Fey), a reporter constantly kidnapped and rescued. Early in the film, during another attempt against Metro Man, by using Roxanne as bait, a funny thing happens; Megamind actually succeeds in destroying his nemesis. He wins, leaving Metro City powerless to stop Megamind from doing whatever he wants. Problems arise of course when Megamind finds that he does not feel he has much of a purpose without a nemesis. His solution is to create a new super hero to fight against, using some of Metro Man's DNA. The result is Roxanne's camera man Hal, voiced by Jonah Hill, being transformed into the super strong, but under qualified Titan. Unfortunately, every villain's plan tends to backfire in some way...
Roxanne Ritchi: [looking around Megamind's lair] Is there some kind of nerdy supervillain website where you get Tesla coils and blinky dials?
Minion: Actually, most of it comes from an outlet store in...
Megamind: Don't answer her!

I was pretty certain that this film would follow the pattern of the lesser Dreamworks animated features, by featuring so many pop culture references. Of course, this also clashed with a lot of my geek sensibilities, as many of the references made of course had to deal with comic book and superhero related themes. Having Will Ferrell go into a prolonged sequence where he disguises himself as the Marlon Brando version of Jor-El did plenty to keep me smiling, as did the initial hero/villain banter between Metro Man and Megamind. A lot of solid laughs were provided by David Cross as Megamind's loyal minion, named Minion, as well.

What kept me from enjoying this film more was how quickly it spread its premise thin. I got bored almost as quickly Megamind did once he had conquered the city. The film's solution to this is by essentially setting up a love triangle that keeps Roxanne involved, but as much as I like Tina Fey, there really isn't much to this character that was very funny or interesting. The film tries to have a lot of humor and hit some dramatic beats later on, but it just doesn't handle this as well as Pixar films can.



However, this film does deliver in its animation and 3D. This is a very good looking film, with lots of great detail to both display a golden age like comic book world and incorporate a lot of well staged action sequences. This is more effective due to how effective the 3D is. Unlike a number of animated films I saw this year in 3D, it is actually put to great effect here, delivering on conveying a sense of depth and exhilaration that one would hope for, given that extra money is being paid in order to achieve more of a unique experience.

This is a very likable film, just not a great one. There are ideas present that could have turned the film into a much more interesting story, but I still had fun getting to hear Ferrell portray a fun, new character. The animation is stellar and the action is fun to watch. It's not a laugh riot, but I will take this over another Shrek sequel.
Roxanne Ritchi: What's the plan?
Megamind: It mostly involves not dying!
Roxanne Ritchi: That's a good plan, I like that plan!

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