A film that pays homage to classic 1950 monster movies about mad scientists, hideous monsters and flying saucers. Dreamworks Monsters vs Aliens is a film that does its parodies very well but is unable to create a real emotional depth in its story. It is very entertaining however as the animation team and voice cast create a team of monsters that are fantastic from start to finish.
Focusing on the story of Susan, who on her wedding day is struck down by an alien meteorite. Absorbing its mysterious radiation, Susan transforms into a gigantic 50ft tall woman, her family and fiancé terrified, she is quickly captured by the United States government. She wakes up in what is most likely Area 51 and discovers that she has been classified as a monster renamed “Ginormica” and is to live indefinitely with the rest of the four monsters the government has captured. Susan is a woman who starts off being blind to the fact that her fiancée is more concerned about his own personal goals than her. She wants to be turned back to normal and return to her normal life but the film forces her into situations she never imagined herself in. Forcing her to adapt and grow as an independent woman.
The main strength of this film are the monsters, the trio in this film are hilarious. Dr. Cockroach, B.O.B and The Missing Link are all classic monsters reimagined for this film. Hugh Laurie voices Cockroach, a mad scientist who experimented with his own DNA to make him indestructible and transformed into a half man, half cockroach. Seth Rogen is B.O.B the film’s version of the blob, a gelatinous mass with no brain and struggles to keep track of what is happening around him. Finally Will Arnett is Link, half-fish, half ape, he is clearly a play on prehistoric monsters and the creature of the black lagoon. The final monster Insectosaurus, a homage to the bizarre enemies of Godzilla is a giant childlike monster who has attracted to bright lights. They are a peculiar little squad but they are the heroes of this story, their actors really flesh them out and make their interactions with humans and aliens alike hilarious.
The story of the film isn’t that strong, it’s quite predictable and doesn’t reach those emotional points as much as it wants to. The film is about Susan’s realisation of her personal power and seeing a female protagonist accept her abnormality as strength is inspiring but not all of the film can reach that level. The main problem with the film is its lack of threatening antagonist, the work this film brought with the monsters was fantastic not so much with the aliens. Now I’m just referring to the alien villain, who was very forgettable and didn’t really do much for the film, the robot was great. Monsters vs Aliens best sequence is when all the heroes have to fight one giant robot with varied results from each monster. The alien machines are more of a threat to the monsters than anything else, the interactions with the aliens themselves are more comical than an actual fight.
Another side to this film that worked so well was its depiction of US government. Kiefer Sutherland portrays a hardened general who is the warden of the monsters and Stephen Colbert is the President. Colbert’s president is hilarious, his attempt of “first contact” with the alien robot is a great homage to Close Encounters and tribute to Beverly Hills Cop. Their absurdity creates a believable situation where the government would actually sanction the release of monsters to fight against an alien invasion. Plus the use of 1950’s imagery in the film was a great aesthetic to base off the visual designs. The use of old style monster movie footage, Dr. Strangelove’s War Room and the design of the alien machinery added some great easter eggs and gags to the films.
Monsters vs Aliens is good not great, a film with potential that wasn’t fully realised. It has some great character with memorable moments but doesn’t go much further than that unfortunately. The trio of monsters are really the best part, the film is worth a watch to see Seth Rogen as B.O.B.