Saturday, 11 December 2010

'Megamind' Review

‘Megamind’ (dir: Tom McGrath, 2010), Cert: PG

2010 has presented audiences with some mighty strong animated features; they have been released in their masses and it seems that Hollywood has no intention of slowing them down. As the Christmas holidays are gaining on us, and the race for the Oscars are in full swing, the rivalry between Pixar and Dreamworks rages on, and the latter is playing it’s new wildcard, ‘Megamind’. The film is presented in 3D (obviously) and has a mighty strong voice-cast, but can it really be the number 1 Christmas film and pip ‘Toy Story 3’ to the post?

Megamind (Will Ferrell) is the world’s most unsuccessful super-villain. He has spent the majority of his life trying to destroy his nemesis Metro Man (Brad Pitt) but has had no success at all. His methods are obvious, his threats fail to cause a scare and his attempts at destroy Metro City are laughable. During an opening ceremony of the new Metro Man Museum, Megamind finally hatches a successful plan by capturing local news sweetheart Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) and ultimately, beats his rival. Now Megamind is free to cause havoc to Metro City with nobody to stop him. Soon enough, he finds himself sad and lonely knowing that his job is complete, so he sets out on a adventure to create a new superhero called Titan (Jonah Hill), but unfortunately, things don’t go the way he planned and now the fate of Metro City rests in his hands.

This is the second super-villain starring film in the last two months which seems a bit of a silly mistake on the studios part. In October, ‘Despicable Me’ was released and now we have ‘Megamind’. The films also have obvious comparisons apart from their central characters. Both have a sidekick/sidekicks called ‘Minion’, they are both exactly 95 minutes in length, and they have the cream of Hollywood’s comedy voicing them, however, they are both very different films.

For starters, ‘Megamind’ is absolutely hilarious, much funnier than ‘Despicable Me’; it’s laced with smart and witty pop culture references (including a plug to the Barack Obama poster campaigns), gags regarding previous films and has a sub-character of Megamind’s that sports a brilliant Marlon Brando impression. This film is also really charming in an unusual way. The audience can really relate to Megamind and in sequences of high-emotion, you can really feel for him. The emotional connection in ‘Despicable Me’ is far more of a narrative function than in this film.

The animation is stunning; it’s as beautiful as ‘How to Train your Dragon’ and as charismatic as ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’. The way hair moves on character’s heads and how glass shatters in certain scenes looks incredibly realistic. The 3D isn’t bad either; I’m sure the film will be just as visually pleasing in 2D but for some scenes, it’s worthy of wearing the silly glasses.

I’m usually fairly anti massive Hollywood voice-casting, as it’s tends to end up being a pretty poor film masked by acting talent, however this film is an exception. Ferrell is perfect for Megamind; his zany humour, his mispronunciation of common words and his loveable personality really gave his character depth and dimension. Even though the audience can guess how the film will end, Megamind is far less predictable as a character than Steve Carell’s Gru in ‘Despicable Me’. Fey is as wonderful as always, and she was a great choice for Roxanne. Her trademark sarcasm and pleasant wit flows through the character making her an animated Liz Lemon from ‘30 Rock’. Pitt does a good job as Metro Man, but in all honestly, any Hollywood star with a large persona could have done it. George Clooney would have been just as adequate as Pitt, but in his brief scenes, his is very funny and enjoyable. Hill surprisingly makes Titan a really vicious and threatening character which is great and he swallows the scenes that he’s in. David Cross gives an actual good performance as Minion, and his chemistry with Megamind is loveable. I usually find Cross mind-numbingly irritating but I was happy with him here.

This is a really strong animated film and I have no doubts that it will be nominated for an Oscar, and I’m pretty certain that this will be a smash-hit over the Christmas holiday. It’s certainly the next best Computer-Animated film to ‘Toy Story 3’, so Dreamworks are really giving Pixar a run for their money. This is their best film since ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ which was one of my top 10 films of 2009.

‘Megamind’ is a superb rollercoaster ride that’s filled with side-splitting comedy, beautiful animation and the best voice cast for ages. It’s a great family film that all will enjoy. A few may be thinking ‘didn’t we see this film 2 months ago?’ but the kids will adore it, and I personally think it’s an all-around stronger film that it’s slightly older sibling.

Verdict: 4 out of 5 - It’s whip-smart, visually absorbing and a wonderful film for a family movie night. The battle of the animation studios continues…

By Chris Haydon

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