Monsters vs Aliens (2009) Dir. Conrad Vernon & Rod Letterman

Movies at the speed of Sky

Just a buncha monsters

Stop me if you’ve heard this. Because you have. Because we all know the stories, the B-movies are in and around our imaginative experience, and if we haven’t ever actually seen Attack ofthe 50-Foot Woman, or the Fly, or Creature from the Black Lagoon, we half-know the plot anyway. This is due in no small part to the efforts of 1980s fanboys/important movie directors, who went all out to make sure this movie genre wasn’t lost forever. And Scooby-Doo, obviously. To a big extent, although this was successful, few of them bettered the iconic1950s originals.

In brief, THAT is why we now have Monsters vs Aliens, IN 3D! Except, as this is Sky and 3D tellies in every home are still a fair way off (and counting the minutes…), I only saw it in glorious 2D-o-Matic vision. If a film is restricted to 2D (oh no!) and let’s face it, most of them will be, then it had better be able to stand up on the two dimensions it started with, with a likeable script, and the ability to hold my interest with some decent characters, or failing that with something I really haven’t seen before. Please note that I felt James’ Cameron’s Dances With Smurfs severely failed on these counts, and third dimensionally too!

I was glad, then, that while not the deepest animated movie ever made, Monsters vs Aliens has a sugar-rush fuelled, goofy charm which sped it along at a fun, frothy pace. Invoking the goodwill from the old monster movies, it has an evil alien mastermind that the 1950s B-Movies would have sold  Marilyn Monroe for, and a plot that sensibly doesn’t try to overcomplicate things.

It opens on the wedding of uncertain bride Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) who is about to marry a self-obsessed weatherman. He tells her they can’t go to honeymoon in Paris as he has an interview in California, and the next minute she’s hit by a meteorite that turns her into a fifty-foot tall Ginormica (see below). Luckily her wedding dress just about grows with her! This is a kid‘s film, fellas. There’s probably an X-rated Italian version out there somewhere…

…has more of a ring to it than ‘Susan’!

Anyway, the minute she transforms, destroying the church she was about to get married in, the army show up and whisk her away to an Area 51 type bunker, where other, mostly smaller monsters are also being held. Luckily for her these are also all voiced by famous film and TV stars. Each creature is a cheeky homage to the 1950s and 60s B-genre classics, from the Fly to the Blob!

Has the voice of Arrested Development’s Will Arnett

The other monsters seem pretty content with their lot, but they jump at the chance to do some good when evil alien Gallaxhar (Raine Wilson) turns up with his unstoppable giant robot and comes looking for the very element that made Susan into a gigantress. Who will save San Francisco – and the world?!

What unfolds is never wholly unexpected, but still good fun and pretty enough to watch – it was never going to look like Dreamwork’s other hit, Kung-Fu Panda, and the Incredibles remains pretty untouchable. The whole film is inherently silly, but that’s really the point. Kiefer Sutherland is clearly having a ball as growly, shouty General W.R Monger (geddit?) the guy who babysits the monsters. Susan is nicely underplayed in accordance with her gigantic stature, but the friendly monsters she temas up with are especially good fun. It also knows its limits, and I’m happy to say it doesn’t outstay its welcome. There’s plenty to see and enjoy while it plays.

This can safely be called a colourful, good-spirited yarn, with a simple message:

‘Don’t marry that jerk, be a monster!’

The hiliariously monsterific Insectosarus!

Oh, and it’s lots better than either Madagascar movie. Just thought that was worth adding. Like, LOTS and LOTS better. Like lots and lots and lots…..less whiny, put it that way. Now, go watch Ratatouille , please.


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