Monday, March 30, 2009

Film Review: 'Monsters vs. Aliens'

DreamWorks remains unmoved by the massive amounts of criticism they've received regarding their often predictable humor that usually calls for celebrity voices, pop culture references and gags best left in a rest stop. Their largest offense by far appears to be the lack of 'Pixar' charm, because, animated movies MUST HAVE a heart-warming story, cute affable characters and a tone starved of personality. Despite roller coaster box office results that include many disappointments, DreamWorks chugs on. Their films are seemingly of a hardheaded teenager's mindset, yet they've improved, after teetering quickly after their first CGI success, Shrek. Their comedies, being less fruitful, aren't without their contributions to the animated medium. Their latest release, Monsters Vs. Aliens doesn't diverge much from the predictability line in terms of characterization or homage, yet many sequences are effective.

The animation company may overuse their cultural jabs, but in this accessible adventure, it is exercised playfully and classy because it does not exist in such amounts that wear out the viewer. The film does often lose the grasp of its subject matter's initial strength though, and settles for more insubstantial comedic matter. One thing that has changed, references have become more retro in an attempt for more of a timeless feel. But if the execution remains average, the effect is lost too. Like many American animated films today, the movie is lacking spirit, distinctiveness, and edge. With such a 50's element, a lot more can be expected, aside from just borrowing the mere premise of the classics. Films aimed toward children however have to remain along a hard-wired guideline as required by the American public.

While the 3D could be considered a large gimmick, it did add much depth to the movie, I felt. Its 50's-movie homage reflects the scope and period impact of some of the earlier flicks with the depth of the dimensions. It is here with this story element that I wish they had done more, aside from lacing the animation with impressive up to date visuals. The film needed to live up to it's artistic scale. It film flounders significantly toward the end, and is that much more disposable with it's finale. The stronger sections were certainly toward the beginning, where characterization, writing, and execution were on point and were writhing with potential for something more far-reaching. The film also engulfs points with me for having 2 bugs as the protagonists.


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