So, are you sick of superhero films yet? I love them with a geeky, dorky passion, and I'd watch a new one every day if I could, but with the sheer number of them out/in production lately, I was absolutely ready for a parody. In Megamind 3D, a blue alien (Will Ferrell) is put into a spaceship by his parents and sent off as the planet appears to be in peril, a la Superman. As he hurtles towards Earth with his minion (David Cross) he passes another, cooler, prettier baby doing the very same thing. Instead of crash landing in a field and being taken in by kindly farmers, the other kid gets the life he was supposed to have. Poor little Megamind lands in a prison. He's teased at school (don't bully your fellow students or they'll end up as evil geniuses) until he realizes that bad is the way to be. And there you have it. Metro Man vs. Megamind.
The nods to classic superheros are thick in this film. Metro Man gets a museum (so does the Flash). The villain kidnaps a plucky reporter named Roxanne Ritchis (Tina Fey) whose name continues the tradition of alliteration in comic book names. (Lois Lane, Peter Parker, etc.) There were so many funny ones, I couldn't write them all down. It sent me into a geeky cloud of happiness.
But this film takes a turn and asks the question, 'What would happen if Lex Luthor killed Superman?' After accidentally taking out the good guy, our villain gets bored and creates a brand new hero from Roxanne's geeky camera guy/stalker (Jonah Hill) so he has someone to fight. But the gamer in spandex is a bit more realistic than most superheroes. What would you do if you got superpowers? Save the world? Rescue puppies? Nope. You'd try to take over the world. Megamind finds himself becoming the hero, falling in love with Roxanne and turning into the blue man he was supposed to be all along.
Any comic book fan worth her salt will be laughing her ass off at the references and the nods to geek culture. My favorite part? The smart woman falls in love with the geeky museum curator in glasses. I'm telling you, it warmed my heart. But then, I had a crush on Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so maybe I'm not exactly impartial here. The entire script is smart. It's quick. It's funny even to non-geeks. Dreamworks is really stepping up their game here. They're producing some seriously strong animated pieces. The only thing they haven't quite gotten yet is the visual charm. It's one of the things Pixar consistently gets right. After watching a screening of the upcoming film, Tangled, I marveled at how they managed to make me think a small old drunk guy with a giant red nose was adorable. In Megamind, you have an entire cast of people with not-so-charming giant foreheads. I can't quite put my finger on the difference, but it's there.
That said, the voice acting was mostly wonderful. Ferrell uses more restraint than we're used to hearing from him and it worked perfectly. If he hadn't done a ton of press for the film, you might not realize who you're hearing. Fey... well, really who would expect anything but brilliance from her? David Cross has to be one of the most underrated performers out there right now. I mention him and very few people seem to know his name. I just don't get it. I'd fall in love with Minion the sidekick from his voice alone. Brad Pitt (sounding strangely like George Clooney) has the cheesy Elvis-like Metro Man down pat. The only weak link was Jonah Hill. The character was well written, but Hill pulled a Michael Cera here and played exactly the same character that he always does. I know he has more range than this. I'm certain he could have made this an actual character and not just a guy in a room talking. But that's exactly how he came across.
And now the 3D issue. Here's my feeling on the whole thing. I don't mean to get on a soap box here, but it's a hot button issue in the film community and I have to address it. I'm not a fan to begin with. I can't stand wearing glasses while watching a film. It gives me a headache. I hate post-production conversion. I hate how much it darkens a picture. But... animated films are a completely different animal. Though I don't think it's entirely necessary, I don't mind it at all. I've said it before, but I'm kind of sick of filmmakers saying, 'Oh, we're not using 3D as a device. We're not throwing things at the screen. That's just silly.' It's animation. Be silly. Throw things at me. And Megamind used 3D in exactly the way it should be used in an animated film. For fun. Climbing off the box now.
Megamind is a blast. Take your kids. Stay with them. There are plenty of laughs for everyone. Bring your asprin for the 3D headache. This one is actually worth seeing that way.