Monsters vs. Aliens
Now Showing at: most major theaters but in #D at select locations.
Review by: Larry Thomas
There’s nothing that puts a big, dopey grin on a film buff’s face more than a movie that pays loving tribute to the films of his or her childhood. The latest entry from the Dreamworks Animation studio, Monsters vs. Aliens, succeeds admirably. Using all the classic sci-fi flicks of the 1950s as its starting point, Monsters vs. Aliens weaves an incredible number of movie references into the 94-minute screenplay. If you’ve ever been enraptured by films such as The Fly, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman, The Blob, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and any number of others, you’ll get a big kick out of this. There’s even a scene right out of Hitchcock’s Vertigo.
But Monsters vs. Aliens isn’t tense or scary… it’s played strictly for fun and laughs. On her wedding day, normal Susan is struck by a meteorite that instantly turns her into the 21st Century version of the Fifty-Foot Woman, dubbed Ginormica. She’s whisked off to the secret place where the government has housed all captured monsters over the decades…much like the fabled Area 51. While there, our distraught heroine becomes friends with Dr. Cockroach, beautifully voiced by Hugh Laurie, who represents the character/critter in The Fly; the Missing Link…Will Arnett’s voice in a tribute to The Creature from the Black Lagoon; B.O.B., a blue gelatinous mass, like The Blob, except he can talk and has one eye. B.O.B. is acted by Seth Rogan, and is hilarious. There’s also Insectosaurus, a giant insect that is the stand-in for Mothra.
In what passes for a plot, the befuddled Gallaxhar arrives on earth in search of a rare space element. Turns out it’s the same stuff that became embedded in Susan from the meteorite. Voiced by Rainn Wilson, Gallaxhar is not a particularly bright invader. When he unleashes his giant robot to retrieve the extract the prized element from Susan, the government bands the “monsters” together to defeat the enemy. The monster wrangler is a gruff Marine General played by Keifer Sutherland. And let’s not forget Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon as Susan. She sounds much different from her live-action on-screen persona, and is quite good at capturing the character.
Being an animated feature, Monsters vs. Aliens is perfect for keeping the kids entertained during spring break, but is also a treat for Mom and Dad. Even if they’re not classic sci-fi fans, there’s still enough action going on, and funny lines all over the place, that they’ll have a good time as well. Like any self-respecting mega-hit movie, the ending leaves it wide open for a Monsters vs. Aliens 2.
The film also takes advantage of the new 3D technology to give the proceedings some added depth. It’s computer-generated animation, so the 3D is not as effective as in the stop-motion Coraline, but it still adds to the enjoyment.
The PG-rated Monsters vs. Aliens is showing just about everywhere, however, not every location is showing it in 3D. It’s worth your effort, and the added expense for the glasses, to see it in that format. And if you subscribe to the theory that it IS the size that counts, the Showcase Cinema DeLux in Springdale has it in IMAX 3D.