Two planets are facing annihilation as they are sucked into a black hole. Two sets of parents, one on each planet, desperate to save their infants, launch their child into space just before the end. Both children land on Earth where one is accepted and loved. The other, with blue skin and a huge head, is shunned by society. He vows revenge and sets off to destroy the world as “Megamind.”
Following on the heels of the “Despicable Me,” “Megamind” is a retread of that superior animation. While “Despicable…” was released in 3D, the whole package – writing, directing, vocal talent, production design, art direction and more – did not need three dimensions to wow audiences of all ages. The latest release by DreamWorks, in comparison, relies on 3D technology to keep the viewer involved. The use of the technology in “Megamind” is the best I have seen to date, making me recommend seeing this in glorious big screen.
The script, by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, is cute but not particularly original, raising the question I read in one premise, “What if Lex Luthor defeated Superman?” Well, in the case of Megamind (voice of Will Ferrell), the evil genius needs an equally good hero with whom to do battle. The other baby space shipped from his dying planet also landed on Earth and became the protector of Metro City – Metro Man (voice of Brad Pitt). The super hero uses his incredible powers for good and it becomes Megamind’s mission to destroy “Mr. Goody Two-Shoes.”
Megamind succeeds in his dastardly scheme and it appears that he got everything he wanted. The only problem, though, is that, without Metro Man around, there is no good super hero, any more. He cannot perpetrate his evil plans if there is not a good guy to match wits with. Bored to death, he comes up with a plan – create a new super hero and he can get things back the way they were. Best laid plans and all that, you know Megamind’s scheme will backfire on him.
The predictability of the story and its lack of sharp wit – droll is more the case in “Megamind” – hold the film back. Will Ferrell carries the movie with swagger as the title character but there are very few if any, laugh out loud gags, unlike “Despicable Me,” which had me laughing from start to finish. Brad Pitt’s Metro Man is more a cameo role than a full-fledged character, amusing but without depth. Tina Fey gets the most out of her vocalization of Roxanne Ritchi, the feisty reporter who, like everyone in Metro City, loves Metro Man and hates Megamind. She refuses to be intimidated by Megamind’s threats. Roxie is unfazed when confronted with hungry alligators, a whirling gauntlet of blades or a spinning chainsaw. Ritchi would be perfectly at home in a Howard Hawks movie.
“Megamind” will appeal to little kids with its bright colors and animation, older kids will like the story and most adults will be entertained. That said, where I will readily, gladly and frequently watch “Despicable Me” on home video, I cannot say that about Megamind.” I give it a B-.
Popped into a space pod by his parents as his planet collapsed, a young alien lands, along with his Minion (voice of David Cross), in prison just as another child lands in a mansion. They'll first cross paths in school, but the luckier of the two will become Metro City's Metro Man (voice of Brad Pitt) while the little blue boy who's misunderstood becomes the villainous "Megamind" (voice of Will Ferrell).
Director Tom McGrath (the "Madagascar" animations) does a nice job with the overworked 3D format in "Megamind," where you may experience vertigo, but the freshman screenwriting team of Alan J. Schoolcraft & Brent Simons have come up with a story that plays like "Despicable Me" with the restorative little girls replaced with a love interest. Roxanne Ritchi (voice of Tina Fey) is a TV news reporter whose cameraman Bernard (voice of Jonah Hill) has a serious crush (a device overused already in "Scream" and as recently as "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"). Toss in a little of "The Incredibles" and you have an OK entertainment that's instantly forgettable.
Megamind's Minion, a fish kept in a jar used as the head for the robotic body Megamind builds it, is a cute sidekick, but nothing we haven't seen before (that hamster in "Bolt?"). His brain bots are also amusing, especially their bouncy spring sound cues, but "Despicable Me" had an army of funny sounding minions as well. The inappropriate music used for laughs (Megamind storms into Metro City square blaring "Highway to Hell," but Minion inadvertently switches to "Lovin' You") still gets one. But there's little funny about the Megamind/Metro Man square off and once the Man is vanquished, Megamind's botched attempt to replace him, turning Bernard into Titan, isn't funny either (and smacks of "The Incredibles," just like a sight gag in the city square does).
Megamind's propensity to mispronounce words (Metro City rhymes with atrocity, for example) is too random to really work and a device that allows him to cloak himself in other characters is just lazy plotting. The use of big name actors for vocal performances has never been more overdone than here - I mistook David Cross for Nathan Lane, so there's no reason talented voice actors couldn't do the same.
"Megamind" isn't awful, it's just doesn't have anything new to offer anyone whose seen some recent animated films. It does look good, though, which gives it the '+' in my grade.
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