Review: Monsters Vs. Aliens

Monsters Vs. Aliens | Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon, 2009

There once was a time when Dreamworks used to make great animated movies, not just good, but great. They were the studio responsible for films like The Prince of Egypt, and Chicken Run (with Aardman). After Shrek, a movie I love, came out, things starterd to go downhill. Since then all of their movies involve cute talking animals filled with pop culture references and potty humor. Not all of them are bad, I’d only call Shrek the Third truly bad, but their formula is getting old. They had a little bit of a comeback with Kung Fu Panda, an homage to kung fu movies rahther than a parody, and I hoped that Monsters Vs. Aliens would continues that trend, but no.

Monsters Vs. Aliens is just what the title suggests. The story follows a girl who is about to get married (Resse Witherspoon) but on that day, a meteor falls on her and she turns into a gigantic woman. Then the government takes her to live with other monsters they’ve captured over the years Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), The Missing Link (Will Arnet), and Insectosaurus. One day, aliens arrive, lead by Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) and humanity’s only hope are these monsters.

The trailers for this made it seem like it would be an homage to the 1950s cheesy sci-fi movies. It was on the right track, but then the writers tried to tack on a “you are fine just the way you are” moral that comes too late in the movie and feels tacked on. Then they also try to make something of the villain’s reason behind the attack, but even that turns into a failure of a joke. And finally the references to classic sci-fi movies suck.

With that said, there are three things that save the movie from being completely bad. The first two are Seth Rogen’s and Will Arnet’s performance. They manage to make some of the stupid jokes into chuckle worthy moments. The third thing is the animation, in some scenes it seemed that Dreamworks is on the verge to catchin up to Pixar in that department.

The rest of the peformances range from bland to bad. Witherspoon sound like she’s just reading her lines without any sort of emotion; Laurie is over-the-top, and not in a good way; Stephen Colbert was just cast because he is Stephen Colbert at many people thought it would be funny if he played the president; and Kiefer Sutherland is just bad as a general.

Monsters Vs. Aliens is not a complete failure, but audiences deserve better. I can’t see how Dreamworks can finance movies like these. Sure, they bring in the money, but artistically they are nothing outside of the animation. Here’s hoping their next movies are good.

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