With Kung Fu Panda being one of the best films of last year, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa not even being worth my time, I'd expected more from Monsters vs. Aliens. And while MvA isn't eye-gougingly terrible--as 2007's Bee Movie was--it needed some help to bring it to the goodness status of films like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.
For once, I was really rooting for the film to work too, as many of the voice actors in the film are some of my faviorites. Plus, I like the film's basic idea: Monsters versus aliens, what more do you need? In MvA's case, it needs some originality.
I realize that the directors, Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon, were giving throwbacks to the sci-fi films of yesteryear--which is fine, if not necessary, but they didn't have to use such cheap tricks as low-brow humor and shots that were set up specifically for the 3D experience. (This is precisely what I feared with the new rise of 3D, directors framing/using shots for gimmicky thrills and producing rather ugly shots, but that is a rant for another time.)
Really, with the exception of Seth Rogen, the film wasn't funny. Again, this bothered me, as I find Will Arnett and Stephen Colbert, usually, very funny. The biggest problem was the poor dialogue written for the both of them. Arnett's Missing Link was a weak character, and anything remotely amusing that Colbert had to say showed up in the trailers. It's never good when the moments that garner the most laughs in a film are the same moments the trailers highlight. Plus, where the film might have suceeded in playing with the sci-fi stereotypes, MvA only turns the genre on it's head once--in one of the better scenes where the "couple parked in the middle of nowhere" scene has a refreshing twist. Had more of this humor been present, the film might've appealed to more than the 10 and under crowd. Unlike some of the previous Dreamworks flicks, MvA didn't have enough to offer the older audience. One or two double entandres, but it never tapped into the true essence of humor, opting out for stereotypes, cliches, and genrally silliness as its backbone.
This one is more for the kids than the adults, which is fine, it's just a shame that Dreamworks keeps fluctuating between great films and bad ones--though now we're one for three, a ratio I REALLY hope improves. My biggest fear is that this one, like Madagascar, will garner a sequel--even though it doesn't deserve, or need, one.
See it if you have kids, and in 3D if possible, however older animation fans can steer clear without missing much: just a few chuckles and a hot digi-babe (but this is the internet, and hot digi-babes are a dime a dozen.)