Reviewed by GREG KING
Directors: Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon
Stars: Voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Keifer Sutherland, Will Arnett, Paul Rudd, Rainn Wilson, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert, Renee Zellweger, Jeffrey Tambor, Ed Helms, John Krasinski, Sean Bishop, Julie White.
Easily the best family oriented film released in time for the school holidays is this wonderful animated treat which maintains the quality we have come to expect from the Dreamworks stable. There is something here for audiences of all ages. The animation is spectacular, with plenty of sight gags and visual humour to please younger audiences. And older audiences will the clever references to classic B-grade sci-fi films from the past. Even the Dreamworks logo at the start is shot in black and white, which instantly captures the flavour of the film’s homage to some of the staples of the genre from the ‘50’s.
When an alien spacecraft crashes to earth in the US – “the only place UFOs ever seem to land” – the President is desperate. He calls a meeting of advisers in his underground Dr Strangelove like war room. General W.R. Monger (voiced by Keifer Sutherland) proposes that he unleashes “monsters” to combat the alien invasion. For fifty years, the military has been capturing and imprisoning mutated monsters in its secret underground facility – a facility so protected by Federal law that to even mention it in passing is to invite government sanctions.
The latest addition is Susan (Reese Witherspoon), a woman who became contaminated when struck by a meteorite on her wedding day and has morphed into a 50-foot giant. She is introduced to her fellow inmates, a motley crew that includes Insectosuarus, a giant bug affected by radiation. Dr Cockroach (Hugh Laurie) is a mad scientist who has somehow turned himself into a bug through his experiments. The Missing Link (Will Arnett) is a half-man half-fish creature. Rounding out the colourful collection is the brainless and spineless gelatinous mass known simply as Bob (Seth Rogen). These strange mutants are let loose to try and counter the threat posed by Gallaxhar (comic Rainn Wilson, whose previous film The Drummer disappeared straight onto DVD locally), who has come to earth the collect a rare mineral that fell to ground along with the meteorite that struck Susan.
And, as is common with most animated films nowadays, Monsters Vs Aliens comes in a spectacular 3D version, which just adds another dimension to the visuals. The 3D effects are used quite well, although directors Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon don’t overdo it. Unlike a lot of recent animation, the producers have wisely eschewed the trend of lacing the film with a barrage of pop cultural references and clever in-jokes.
The producers have assembled a superb vocal cast to bring this wonderful collection of misunderstood mutant outcasts to life, and they seem to be enjoying themselves. A perfectly cast Rogen almost steals the show as Bob. The supporting cast also includes Stephen Colbert (from faux news show The Colbert Report) as the dithering US President, Paul Rudd, Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, and Renee Zellweger.