Dir: Tom McGrath
I saw this back in 2010 when it was released, but didn’t pay much attention to it. The reason? I had recently seen Despicable Me less than 2 months earlier, and expected this to be much of the same. I was totally wrong, and on seeing it again this week, I realise just how wrong I was!
Evacuated from his home planet as a baby, alien Megamind (Will Ferrell) unfortunately crash landed in a high-security prison, and rather than become a hero like fellow-alien refugee Metro Man (Brad Pitt), he is raised to become an evil genius and adversary. When he finally defeats the hero of Metro City (or Metrocity) after years of battles, he finds that the victory isn’t as sweet as he’d hoped, and so devises a way for hapless cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill), to become his new super-powered opponent. When this backfires, he discovers there may be a better way to handle things that may actually also get him the girl he likes, reporter Roxanne (Tina Fey).
I like the idea of taking the hero story from the side of the villain, it’s slightly different, and Megamind is a pretty good villain, not in terms of genius villainy but in terms of family fun. The story cleverly takes some tropes of the genre and has fun with them, bearing many similarities to the origins of Superman, even throwing in a really clever reference that one of Megamind’s disguises bears a strong resemblance to Marlon Brando.
One similarity with Despicable Me is that they both have minions. While Gru has many yellow cute ones, Megamind has just one, not cute, but brilliantly voiced by David Cross. I think he’s superb in Arrested Development, and in this his voice carries with it all the comedic qualities that his performances usually do. The same can be said for some of the other voice cast, Ferrell is consistently good, and Jonah Hill wasn’t quite as experienced as he is now but you really get the same sense of mischief as you do from him in things like the Jump Street movies.
Behind the film are a number of notable figures with strong reputations in both comedy and action. Ben Stiller serves as a producer, and I was surprised to see Guillermo Del Toro is credited as a consultant. With them and the rest of the voice cast it’s really a good combination for a film that’s a lot of fun and full of good animated action fight scenes.
Still, my one problem is that I’m not a fan of Dreamworks’ way of animating a lot of their humans, there’s something off-putting about Roxanne’s face, and I had the same issue with ‘Monster vs. Aliens’. They’re fine at designing characters when the leads are non-human, but the often angular and oddly proportioned human faces are hard to like. It may be that they are trying to make sure their style is distinct from Disney’s way of drawing faces, but surely there’s got to be another way that works, especially as it’s not the case with all of their films.
It’s one of the few animated ‘super films’ that I’ll be reviewing as part of my ‘Super Saturdays’, but a worthy addition to my list as it’s nicely different. Though not as loved as Despicable me as to garner a sequel (as yet), it’s a lively animated comedy that has a far wider appeal than I realised at first, and seems to have a great love for superheroes such as Superman, while playing with the genre.