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Monsters Vs Aliens

Monsters Vs Aliens

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DREAMWORKS Animation’s Monsters Vs Aliens is a notable success for several reasons.

First and foremost, it offers terrific family entertainment that pays clever homage to the B-movie monster features of the past, whilst proving that it can come close to challenging Pixar in terms of quality.

Secondly, it also marks the latest chapter in the new 3D revolution that’s set to invade cinemas over the coming months. In America, it has already set a new record in becoming the highest 3D opener of all-time, and utilises the format in supremely impressive fashion.

And thirdly, it plays to the strengths of its immensely talented vocal cast, with just about every one of the performers standing out in some way.

The plot is simple but fun. When bride-to-be Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is struck by a meteorite on her wedding day and transformed into a gigantic woman, she is teamed with four other monstrous freaks of nature to help the government defend Earth from impending attack by evil alien warlord Gallaxhar (voiced by Rainn Wilson).

Hence, Dr. Cockroach (voiced by Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link (Will Arnett), B.O.B. (Seth Rogen) and Insectosaurus (no voice necessary) battle the alien invaders under the strict guidance of gruff US General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland).

Monsters Vs Aliens, co-directed by Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman, boasts plenty to recommend it, especially in 3D format. The visuals are stunning (especially during the set piece attack on San Francisco), and use the 3D to enhance the storytelling rather than making it appear gimmicky.

Hence, while there is the odd object flying from the screen towards you, such tactics are kept to a minimum in favour of creating a fully three dimensional world for viewers to enter and savour.

The numerous nods to sci-fi classics of the past are also well judged, especially in the depiction of the main characters. Laurie’s Doc Cockroach, for instance, is an obvious nod to The Fly, while Rogen’s B.O.B. is quite obviously The Blob.

Witherspoon’s Susan/Ginormica, meanwhile, is an homage to Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman, while The Creature From The Black Lagoon and Japan’s Mothra are referenced to – as are the likes of Spielberg classics Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET and more recent blockbuster spectacles such as Independence Day and even Transformers.

Sci-fi afficionados can’t help but be entertained as they attempt to tick off the innumerable references, while kids will simply love the spectacle and knockabout fun of it all.

And the characters are fun, too. Rogen, for me, stands out as B.O.B. making the most of his trademark laugh and easygoing demeanour. But Sutherland makes a great Warmonger and the likes of The Missing Link and Insectosaurus are consistently good for a laugh too. Women should also enjoy the overriding sense of female empowerment that permeates throughout…. and not just in regard to Witherspoon’s lead character.

At a brisk 94 minutes, the film doesn’t outstay its welcome either and, if anything, leaves you thirsting for more.

DreamWorks Animation may not always get things right as it attempts to compete with Pixar (the Madagascar franchise is largely forgettable), but as with the original Shrek, Over The Hedge and last year’s Kung Fu Panda they can come up trumps when they really put their minds to it.

Monsters Vs Aliens is monstrously good fun that deserves to become an out of this world smash hit!

Certificate: PG
Running time: 94mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 26, 2009