More noise than signal

Monsters vs Aliens

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

There’s not an awful lot to talk about in the latest of Dreamwork’s 3D outings, apart from the fact that it’s in more 3D than most of its 3D stuff. As it turns out that’s also its biggest problem, but I suppose we’ll get on to that in due course.

Susan? (voiced by Reese’s Pieces Witherspoon) is struck by a mysterious meteorite just before her marriage to a local weatherman/asshole hybrid, but rather than be mashed to a pulp she mysteriously becomes massive. She’s not given long to adjust to her new status as a giant before she’s captured by a unusually responsive Army, waking up in, for want of a better term, monster gaol.

Also in the slammer are The Missing Link (Will Arnett), a defrosted prehistoric lady-chasing lizard man, Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), an aptly named ex-human mad scientist, B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a barely sentient jelly lab accident and Insectosaurus, a massive insect. Pleasantries are only barely exchanged before some intergalactic madman (well, madalien, I suppose) has decided to invade earth for reasons too tenuous to explain, his forces proving unbeatable to conventional weapons. So, the aforementioned monstrosities are prevailed upon to save Earth. Hence title.

As a film, from my comfortable distance away from the target audience, it is entirely adequate. It’s nice and shiny and reasonably entertaining. Seth Rogen provides an amusing performance, everyone else is adequate (except, perhaps, for a disappointing turn from my personal hero Stephen Colbert). The plot is adequate, if not stellar. The character design is adequate, with the exception of the pretty awesome looking Insectosaurus. It’s adequately funny in places, with appropriately adequate amounts of drama inserted in the adequate place. The 3D effects are adequate, and for the most part pleasingly understated rather than the usual ‘poking things out of the screen for no reason every two minutes’ schtick 3D films normally wind up schticking.

In the middle of this torrent of adequacy, the only major problem I have with the film is that the presence of the “in 3D!” bullet point seems to be the only unique(-ish) selling point in the value proposition for this product, which translated from the original Marketing Bollocks means that it’s the only somewhat remarkable thing in a film which, while in no way bad, is entirely unremarkably adequate. Other than that, there’s no pressing need to have this film made.

That said, who are we to demand that every film created be a staggering work of heartbreaking genius? Sure, Dreamworks aren’t hitting the same high notes of Pixar’s recent outings, but they’re still batting for a higher average than, say, the latter day, pre-Pixarification of Disney were. Indeed, you could make a reasonable case that the average quality in the kiddy-focused CG animation sector is still better than that of the live action adult-targetted stuff, and certainly substantially better than the teen-oriented horrors. Average, however, is still average no matter which way you slice it.