Monsters vs Aliens - Blu-ray Review

'too often directors Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon revert to madcap silliness and slapstick to fill the gaps in scenes where people aren't saying or doing something genuinely funny'

The demands on computer generated children's' films to stand out from the crowd these days are high. Before the end of July we've got Toy Story 3, Hoodwinked 2, the final Shrek and Astro Boy, not to mention anything this article has missed out along with Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs coming to DVD. It's a saturated genre meaning you've got to do what you do extremely well or extremely differently. And that's just Monsters vs Aliens problem: it doesn't.

Fronted by the obligatory all star cast this time comprising of Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Kiefer Sutherland, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Stephen Colbert, Monsters vs Aliens riffs heavily on classic and semi-classic B-movie schlock, throwing in a bit of Mars Attacks (which did the same thing) for good measure. The basic premise is that aliens are attacking (in the form of Rainn Wilson's megalomaniac, Gallaxhar) and the only line of defence against them is an assorted band of monsters the U.S. government has kept locked away from us for the last few years. Fronted by Witherspoon's Ginormica (read: the 50-foot woman) the monsters, of course, each have their own problems to overcome before they can learn to love the populace that imprisoned them and save them from this new menace.

In short terms, Monster vs Aliens isn't as funny, inventive, clever, well-scripted or engaging as many of its counterparts in the genre. Sure, the central narrative surrounding Ginormica and her 'normal' alter-ego Susan Murphy is charming, if predictable, and it provides a solid and emotive central platform to launch the silliness that comes later on board an alien spaceship and in battle across the Golden Gate Bridge. There are funny moments with most of them revolving around Seth Rogen's B.O.B (him trying to chat up a jelly is real highlight) and genuinely clever takes on echoes of old school B-movies (watch out for the play on the jock and his 'conquest' making out in a field) which provide chuckles and engage but all in all, there's just not enough.

Too often directors Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon revert to madcap silliness and slapstick to fill the gaps in scenes where people aren't saying or doing something genuinely funny. Witness the war room scenes as an example. Obviously feeding off Dr. Strangelove, Letterman and Vernon miss multiple opportunities; in one simply having a drinks server scream and faint every time a monster appears on screen (every 10 seconds). It's a shame because sometimes when it's used it's used well and viewers would do well to pay attention to what happens to the tranquilizer dart used on Susan in the opening scenes.

Because it's charming and funny in places and will certainly divert kids, it's possible to create an argument for giving Monsters vs Aliens an extra mark for effort and likability but in the days when Pixar are consistently churning out brilliance and all animated movies seem to want to aspire to higher heights than their station previously allowed it seems unfair to do so for a film which doesn't quite reach high enough.





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'In the same review that you praised Kung Fu Panda as one of Dreamworks successes, you dismissed Monsters vs. Aliens… for something that applies to both of them. And you know what else it applies to? The Incredibles. Do you consider the use of that formula to be a flaw in all three of these films, or just MVA?' - A (very valid) comment on the linked review from FirstShowing.net, 5/10

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