Monsters Vs Aliens
As a kid growing up in the fifties there were a lot of different forms of entertainment but the most popular of the lot ere the old ‘B’ Sci-fi/horror flick and cartoons. When the weather was not conducive to playing outdoors or on just another lazy Saturday afternoon we would head to the local movie house to watch some monster destroy one earth city or another. The type of creatures would vary from giant insects to humongous people or perhaps some form of blob from another world. No matter what form it took it was always a lot of fun to watch it go on a rampage. Typically the theater would also show a couple of cartoons so we could pretty much make a day of it. Of course by today’s standards the animation was privative but they were fun to watch and it was all that we had.
Recently there was a film that brought me right back to those carefree day by combining fifties monster flicks with twenty first century animation; Monsters versus Aliens’. To help reinforce the nostalgic feel I sat down to watch this with my best friend on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Admittedly my current home theater is a lot better in quality than the old neighborhood movie house but the overall mood set by the film perfectly brought back the full measure of entertainment. It had a silly plot and was filled with a lot of groaner puns but overall it got all of us laughing and after a tough week at work that was the most important thing about the movie. It should be noted that the primary targeted demographic is the younger set but this is the type of movie that make the old adage ‘fun for the entire family’ true. One other factor that is very important to keep in mind is that as a kid’s flicks don’t expect much in the way of character development or plot twists. This movie succeeds well in the two goals it established for itself; be fun to watch and show off the latest and greatest animation techniques.
It is quite obvious that the people on the development side of this flick also grew up having their cinematic tastes shaped by the afternoon monster movies. My friends and I had a great deal of fun trying to shout out the reference movie as each of the many such references appeared on the screen. This is another reason why the home edition of this movie is so great; you get to talk without annoying a theater full of strangers. The screenplay, admittedly light on plot, was handled by a team of very funny writers headed by a pair of proven talents. Maya Forbes had several years of experience working on the critically acclaimed comedy show ‘The Larry Sanders Show. Wallace Wolodarsky worked for years on the flagship of the Fox network; ‘The Simpson’. The direction was also done with a tag team approach with Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman sharing the helm. Vernon worked in the art department on ‘The Road to El Dorado’ while Letterman previously directed ‘Shark Tale’.
In a film like this an excess of plot can get in the way. This is not the case here. They get right into the story starting with s brief introduction to set up the premise and lay the groundwork for the characters. This is in keeping with the format for those old horror flicks; get right to the creature. Susan Murphy (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is a friendly, pleasant young woman who becomes engaged to her boyfriend Derek Dietl (voiced by Paul Rudd. He works as the weatherman on the local TV news but has aspirations of becoming a news anchor in a major marked. On their wedding day Susan is hit by a glowing green meteorite and before they can finish exchanging their vows she grows to the staging height of 49’ 11.5". This avoids copyright problems with the classic fifties flick ‘The Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman’. Since this is a family film her shredded wedding gown managed to stay sufficiently in tack to retain its ‘G’ rating. Susan is whisked away by the proverbial government black helicopters to ‘Area 52’. For decades the government has been hiding monsters there from the public. Besides Susan, now renamed Ginormica by the government, there was the Missing Link (voiced by Will Arnett), Dr. Cockroach (voiced by Hugh Laurie), a shapeless blob that can digest anything called B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen) and to represent Japanese monsters a giant grub; Insectosaurus. When the Earth is threatened by an evil alien, Gallaxhar (voiced by Rainn Wilson), the government offers them their freedom if the monsters can destroy the huge alien robot.
It didn’t take very long before he realized a lot in common between this movie and the one we used to watch that comfortable old theater back when we were kids. Although this is an animated feature and one targeted towards kids a bit younger than we were back in the day it is basically a creature feature. Each of the monsters in this cadre abruptly-based on archetypes that was popular in the 50s. It was menacing insects, a shapeless blob, ‘extraterrestrial creatures and the ever popular pretty young woman grown to gigantic size. For fiction authors of this genre will immediately have your mind wander back to such classics as ‘The Attack of a 50 Foot Woman’, ‘the Blob’ and any number of giant insects out to destroy humanity. Because of this the movie has a special appeal for the parents and other grown-ups in the room. The children will be enthralled by the comical manifestations of these monsters but for those of us that grew up on the real thing, creature features, our inner child will be taken back to the original monster movies that helped start us in a lifelong love of movies.
This movie was a first for DreamWorks animation. It was the very first movie to be made directly in the new ‘Real 3D’ process which reportedly added another $15 million to the movie’s budget. Prior to that the 3D effect was added in postproduction rather than integrating it throughout the original filmmaking process. In 2009 when the Blu-ray and DVD release was made it had not yet been sufficient number of homes equipped with 3D presentation. This original Blu-ray release that contain the variation of 3D technology in use for many decades, Anaglyph, the old-school method requiring cardboard glasses with cellophane lenses of different colors as part of the Blu-ray extras. It only took a couple years but the proliferation of home systems with high quality 3D and surround sound has become a major influence in the market. Releases using the polarized technique are now commonplace resulting in studios reevaluating some of their older titles. ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’, was selected to be part of this trend. This new ‘Real 3D’ release is naturally enough far superior to the old anaglyph technology. The one thing the color palette remains true in the high definition is retained. In this animated film was originally produced with 3D technology great care was given to establishing a foreground middle and background. While this was largely lost in the anaglyph technique becomes of course quite well with the new polarized technology. Sense of height for Ginormica’’, greatly enhances the experience of the movie. During the battle scenes the viewer is taken out about world than Paul in this exciting adventure. While not as well done technically as newer 3D films the results are notable and worthy of considering a as a repurchase.
Posted 10/04/09 0601/2014