Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Megamind: A funny movie that is ultimately unsatisfying

To say that there has been a lot of superhero movies lately are an understatement. It seems as though 50% of everything released by Hollywood has in some way to do with comic books, superheroes or repurposed TV shows that centered on heroes fighting crime. Luckily there have been a few films that have successfully lampooned this trend in Hollywood cinema, or at least repurposed it to create telling takes on our social conscious. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, the Watchmen, The Incredibles are a few that take the Superhero formula and show us its all a bunch of show, or that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Megamind attempts to continue this trend in superhero subversion to somewhat likable results but it too heavy laden with cliché’s and honestly, some really unlikable characters to be put in any pantheon alongside some of its more successful predecessors. This is a shame considering that since it did come after, there was some sort of expectation that it might have a little more insight or at least a better way of making the whole superhero overdone theme a little more relevant.

Megamind is about, well, Megamind (Will Ferrell). As a small baby, he is sent to earth before his planet is destroyed (ala Superman). Unfortunately for him, another being was also jettisoned to our planet at the same time who becomes a superhero named Metro Man (Brad Pitt) creating and epic battle of who is really the best. Because of their upbringings and differing powers, there was really no way for Megamind to compete in the ‘superhero’ category, so instead he opted to become the evil nemesis. The movie then moves into a love triangle by introducing a reporter (Tina Fey), and also presents a problem when Metro Man is killed off (oh, sorry….spoiler alert). This is where the film gets a little interesting. What does a super villain do when his enemy is defeated? How does he react to his newfound power and influence and above all, does any of it really mean anything without someone to share it with.

Unfortunately, the script is not able to make good on any of the questions it proposes. It seems like a juicy premise to see what happens when there is nobody to stand up to the world’s greatest super villain, but when we actually see it, my reaction was…”huh, that’s it”? There is a lot of fun and funny banter between the characters, it just seems like the premise had a lot of potential but didn’t flesh out the plot. Characters also have a hard time winning our trust. Megamind is too much of a dufus to be really dangerous, and too good-natured to even feel that there is an existential crisis brewing in his huge blue skull about who he really is. Metro man is distinctly unlikable, so we’re not too bummed when he’s out of the picture, and the news reporter is a bit of a sarcastic downer, killing a lot of the joy and sight gags the movie throws in.

On the plus side, this movie is gorgeous. The visuals are top notch and the score isn’t too distracting. Textures and colors give the sense of a candy coated worlds of wonder, and that cartoony feel does a lot to tone down the expectations as far as characterization is concerned. However, story always trumps visuals so in this case it can’t keep up. The directing and comedic timing of the film lend for more than a few laughs and help refresh an otherwise mundane script. Voice talent does a great job, but the characters seem so irksome, its hard not to look past their written flaws.

Now I’m not saying this is a bad movie by any means. As a matter of fact I explained to my wife that it was merely, ‘meh’. The most telling aspect of the film was the reaction of my 7-year-old son. A lover of movies himself, some seem to get engrained in his head and he can’t stop talking about them or something cool or funny he saw while watching them. With Megamind, he said he enjoyed it but after the movie, I never once heard him mention it again. Maybe the filmmakers need to realize that in order for something to appeal to children as well as adults, character is still your most important creation. Until then, re-watch the Incredibles for your animated superhero flicks.

Final Consensus:
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!
Don’t Bother

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