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Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE superhero genre is so overcrowded nowadays that it’s hardly surprising some new films have decided to subvert genre expectations as the best way of marking themselves out.

Hence, Kick-Ass toyed (violently) with what can be achieved within the genre, while the animated likes of The Incredibles and – most recently – Despicable Me found new ways of exploring the superhero dynamic.

Megamind is the latest to hatch its dastardly plan to tinker with the format and, like Despicable Me, opts to view things from the villain’s perspective. In doing so, it’s also great fun.

Co-directed by Tom McGrath and Cameron Hood, the film follows the fortunes of Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell), the world’s most brilliant super-villain, who finds himself pitted against the heroic Metro Man (Brad Pitt) in a never-ending battle of good versus evil. That is… until Megamind accidentally kills his nemesis and has Metro City at his disposal.

At first delighted with his own brilliance, Megamind quickly realises that life has no purpose without a rival to battle and so resolves to create his own new enemy, while simultaneously trying to woo the affections of intrepid news reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey).

But when he accidentally zaps Roxanne’s equally smitten, but overweight camera-man (Jonah Hill) with the special powers formula, Megamind realises he may have created someone who cannot be beaten – and who is even more villainous than himself!

There are numerous reasons why Megamind works so well… and why it’s different enough from Despicable Me to be worthy of audience attention.

First of all, it benefits from a terrific voice cast with Ferrell and Hill, in particular, bringing their trademark wit and sometimes surreal, edgy humour to proceedings.

Hence, a lot of the jokes play to both adults and children, offering sly observations on the superhero formula as well as the hardship of fitting in – the latter of which don’t feel anywhere near as preachy or sentimental as they could have been.

The visuals, too, are eye-popping and brilliant (especially in 3D) and offer several virtuoso action sequences to enthral the kids, as well as clever movie references to cater for older audiences. Hence, Ferrell’s Marlon Brando ‘impression’ from Superman is a blast and one of several moments that show a fond appreciation for the genre it’s working in.

There’s even a late surprise to keep viewers on their toes, just as the movie threatens to become repetitive… enabling the film to maintain its momentum until the very end.

Minor criticisms may stem from the fact that Megamind isn’t as emotionally lasting as DreamWorks Animation’s last outing, How To Train Your Dragon, or the likes of the Pixar movies, but given that superhero films tend to become a little too bogged down with message making that also comes as some light relief.

The decision to keep the tone consistently light and the movie fleet-footed instead means that Megamind is a breezy crowd-pleaser that effortlessly engages its audience.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 99mins
UK DVD & Blu- ray Release: April 4, 2011