FILM REVIEW: Monsters vs Aliens
PG • 94 mins • 3 April
Directors: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland
The latest venture from the Dreamworks stable could be just the thing to scour the increasingly disappointing Shrek sequels from our minds. This, at last, is Dreamworks rivaling the brilliance of Pixar: they’ve produced their very own Monsters, Inc crossed with The Incredibles, and while they’re still not quite in the five-star region, they’re nudging bloody close.
This tongue-in-cheek frolic is the story of ordinary gal Susan (Reese Witherspoon), whose wedding day is rudely interrupted when she’s hit by a falling meteor and becomes a titanic 50-foot woman (“Here comes the bride!” screams one guest, as Susan stomps on a church). The government whisk her away to a secret facility where she befriends brainless blob Bob (Seth Rogen), a mad scientist cockroach (Hugh Laurie) and Creature From The Black Lagoon lookey-likey Link (Will Arnett). Figuring she’s doomed to live the rest of her life in prison, she’s thrilled when aliens attack and she’s called into service to defeat them. As the title suggests, some pretty cool monster/alien robot smackdowns ensue.
Monsters Vs Aliens is gorgeous to look at and, if you’re seeing it in 3D, they have tremendous fun with the format (though nothing beats the opening scene’s bouncy ball flying into the crowd; you might actually duck). The script isn’t quite as tight as the CGI, sadly, although there are funny lines aplenty (such as Laurie’s boffin bug exclaiming: “By Hawkings’ chair!”). However, there are still some lovely twists on sci-fi tropes and homages to ’50s B-movies, including a glorious nod to Harryhausen’s famous Golden Gate Bridge-destruction from It Came From Beneath The Sea.
But Monsters Vs Aliens’ biggest strength is its characters. Susan’s a little bland but her monster pals are hilarious, while The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert would steal the film as the President of the United States if Kiefer Sutherland’s General WR Monger hadn’t stolen it first (“I would cry, but I lost my tear ducts in the war,” he rumbles).
The film lacks the soft, friendly edge of something like Monsters, Inc and sags a little after the first big fight, but it’s gigantic fun nevertheless. Expect sequels, but hope they don’t go the Shrek route.