Fri 5 Nov 2010
Break out your debit cards, parents. Dreamworks’ latest 3D animated sensation, “Megamind”, has arrived for all the kids to see. And the wee ones will probably enjoy it like they do just about any other series of bright colors and loud noises.
However, for the adult set, there isn’t much here that exceeds any conservative expectations and if you’ve seen “Despicable Me“, you may also recognize the plot: Super-villain meets new people, their heart grows two sizes, they turn to good, and save the day.
In “Despicable Me”, it was the evil mastermind, Gru, who learned to love thanks to the introduction of orphan girls who set him straight; and when their lives are put in peril, they need his rescuing. Hug, hug, kiss, the end. With “Megamind”, the titular character (voiced by Will Ferrell) is intent on defeating the city’s champion, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). He finds that in doing so (not much of a spoiler and not the premise so don’t get your undies in a bunch), his purpose in life is lost. A “chance” meeting with TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi leads to a romantic interest and when her life is put in peril, she needs his rescuing. Hug, smooch, the end.
The similarities don’t end there though. In “Despicable Me”, Gru has an army of little, yellow, twinkie-like henchmen called minions – which do the dirty work involved in super villainry. Megamind has a talking fish utilizing a cybernetic exo-skeleton named Minion – who does the dirty work involved in super villainry. Both examples of minion-ness are enjoyable and vital to the film’s success but again … I’ve seen it already … THIS YEAR.
Now, I don’t think that either production meant for the likenesses to occur but that’s just the way it happened and it’s hard not to make the comparison. And I wouldn’t belabor so much on this point had “Megamind” succeeded in the level of entertainment.
The film starts fine and we’re introduced to zany characters, that work for the most part. Once Megamind is forced to find a new purpose to life, the story begins to drag a bit, however, and the pacing problems had my own mind drifting away from what was occurring on-screen. The finale brought me back (thanks to the inclusion of Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle”) and overall, I’d say I was decently satisfied with the result (though Axl’s dulcet tones didn’t make me forget how contrived it is to throw in AC/DC songs whenever possible – I feel like this trend cheapens my esteem in some, small way).
Also, to no great surprise, you can save a few bucks and skip the 3D should you be going to the theaters. Once again, that third dimensions is usually not very apparent (or well done, necessarily) and the tinted lenses dull the color palette. I realize my concerns won’t affect the studios looking to make a few extra bucks but it’d be nice if more directors would take a stand for the sake of their films (Christopher Nolan’s refusal to use it for the next Batman is a good start). Good 3D can be done (“Coraline“, “Jackass 3D“) but their efforts are so rarely matched that it’s more of a fluke when it’s done right rather than the norm.
Back to this film in particular though (before this turns into another of my Soap Boxes), “Megamind” won’t end up on my DVD shelf but it does the bare minimum and it’ll distract your kids for 90 minutes, so I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. This very well may end up on the list of best animated films of the year … but that honor is won by default since 2010 has seen a severe lack of not only quality animation, but any significant number of the films themselves.