Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs Aliens

Review by Patrick Hodges

I am actually old enough to remember the “olden days” of 3-D movies.  I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, when attending a 3-D film meant wearing those ridiculous cardboard red-and-green glasses.  And though it was a novel concept, making you feel like you were actually surrounded by the movie, the films that offered this option were usually really bad sci-fi or really bad horror films.

Many theaters are now making the (very expensive) leap to incorporate more 3-D projectors into their business, and that’s probably because more and more films are being released with that option.  But make no mistake:  this is nothing like the way it was before.  It’s a whole new animal, and if this is the way movie-watching is going, I like it.  A lot.

Monsters vs. Aliens, the latest film from DreamWorks Animation, is another in a long line of films from that studio that satisfies the dual purpose of entertaining both kids and adults.  It’s not the best animated film ever, but it is entertaining and hilariously funny.  An all-star cast of comedians lend their talents to this venture, behind an Oscar-nominated actress in Reese Witherspoon.  What more could you ask for?

Susan Murphy (Witherspoon) is a typical California girl, who is preparing to get married to her love, a local weatherman (Paul Rudd).  Unfortunately, mere minutes before the blessed event, she is struck by a meteorite.  But instead of perishing, she grows to roughly 50 feet in height, whereupon she is taken to a secret government facility, which is a housing complex for other “monsters” (which she has also been labeled as).

If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll notice that the main comic relief in the film is B.O.B., a gelatinous blob of goo (voiced hysterically by Seth Rogen), who is rather dimwitted but lovable.  Also present is the Missing Link (Will Arnett), a 20000-year-old – and still macho – fish/man; Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), a former scientist who Jeff Goldblum-ed his way into the body of a giant… well, you know; and Insectosaurus, a 350-foot tall bug who grew to enormous size after being hit by a nuclear blast.

It would seem that a life of solitude and imprisonment is all that awaits Susan (now dubbed “Ginormica” by the government), but she and the rest of her team are rallied into action by the President (Stephen Colbert) and the facility’s leader, Gen. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) when an alien robot lands in order to obtain a substance called Quantonium, which was present in the meteorite that caused Susan’s transformation and now resides within her.   The four-eyed, tentacled space baddie is Gallaxhar (played by a deliciously over-the-top Rainn Wilson), who wants to clone himself and colonize Earth with… himself, and it’s up to one of the most unlikely group of heroes to stop him. 

If you got the impression that B.O.B. was going to be the central character in the film from the trailer, think again.  This is Witherspoon’s movie to carry, and carry it she does.  The film does stop and start more than a few times while she searches for self-worth and acceptance after her transformation, culminating in a trip home that doesn’t go QUITE as planned, but the animation is absolutely top-notch, and I was laughing nearly the entire time.

I would highly recommend you spend the extra few bucks and go see this in 3-D.  It literally adds a new dimension to the film, and it makes an already enjoyable film even more so.  Think of it as adding your favorite toppings to a bowl of your favorite flavor ice cream; the images are so close you almost feel like you can reach out and touch them... which is exactly what the illusion of 3-D is supposed to. 

4 ½ / 5 stars (3-D)

4 / 5 stars (2-D)

Review by Mark Lengieza

It had been quite a while since I had seen my last film in Real D 3D (Beowulf) and having absolutely loved the experience the first time (the 3D effects were a whole lot better than the film itself) I was sufficiently excited for Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D.  The film looked absolutely hilarious and with that cast, I was sure to be there.

This time around, the experience had the opposite effect on me.  I felt that the film itself was a lot better that the 3D effects (which is NOT a bad thing).  I felt for this film the 3D was used much more to just add depth to the film, and it would have worked nearly the same in 2 dimensions.  Obviously, this is what the film-makers were going for, which is why I say it is not a bad thing.  There were a few “things popping out at you” moments but it was nothing like Beowulf, so I was slightly disappointed in that regard.  However, I feel like they focused a lot more on actually making the film good than using the 3D gimmick to draw the crowd.

The film itself did not disappoint at all.  I loved it.  I thought it was absolutely hilarious.  It was definitely one of DreamWorks’ best efforts so far.  Seth Rogen completely steals the show.  B.O.B is one of the most hilarious characters from an animated film in recent memory.  Without him, the film would have felt empty, with him, it shines.  Seth Rogen has risen to the top of comedic actors working today, and I really don’t see who is there to compete with him.

The other cast members were great as well.  Reese Witherspoon does a great job of basically playing herself, only in 50 foot gigantic woman form.  Hugh Laurie is great as always, as Dr. Cockroach Ph.D.  However, the other character that had me rolling was General W.R. Monger, brilliantly cast with the voice of Jack Bauer himself, Kiefer Sutherland.  And I can not forget about the gigantic yet adorable Insectosaurus.

There were so many laugh out loud funny moments in the film and it works for kids and adults alike.  With references to films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Spaceballs, there is hardly a dull moment.  My only criticism with the film is that the pacing moved along so well for the first hour and ten minutes or so, and they felt like they needed to wrap it all up in 20 minutes, which I felt hurt the film a little bit.  Damn kids and their diminishing attention spans! 

The film has something for everybody.  I have heard many criticisms that Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) was an awful villain.  Ok, I understand that point of view, but my response: so what?  This is, essentially, a kids movie.  Who needs Darth Vader?

I absolutely recommend this film.  If you have kids, take them along, as you will both surely enjoy it.  You will both be laughing, and watch as Seth Rogen’s star power continues to rise.

A monstrous 4 ½ / 5 stars.

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