Posts Tagged ‘Monsters vs Aliens’


2009_monsters_vs_aliens_035If you own any DVDs with titles like The Crawling Eye, Mothra or The Leech Woman then a new animated 3-D movie called Monsters Vs. Aliens may be right up your alley. Inspired by the giant bug and alien movies of the 1950s, the new DreamWorks film, starring the voices of Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rogen, is a loving homage to the crazy sci fi films of a simpler age.

When Modesto, California resident Susan Murphy (voice of Witherspoon) is struck by a meteor on her wedding day she suddenly transforms into a 49 ft 11 in creature named Ginormica. Labeled a monster by the American government she is captured by the military and shipped off to a secret government compound that houses other scientific oddities; “It’s an X-file wrapped in a cover-up and deep fried in a conspiracy,” says General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland).

Imagine an Area 51 for creatures like the insect-headed Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie), the Missing Link, a 20,000-year-old gill-man (Will Arnett), B.O.B., a gelatinous organism who began life as a genetically altered tomato (Rogen) and Insectosaurus, a 350 foot grub turned monster by nuclear radiation.

The motley crew of monsters is called into service after a UFO lands and an alien overlord named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) demands that Earth be turned over to him. “Humans of Earth,” he says, “my quest has lead me to your planet. Give it to me now! You should, in no way, take any of this personally. It’s just business. Gallaxhar out.”

The country’s highest ranking government officials—including General Monger and the President (Stephen Colbert)—feel that the monsters are the best bet to save the world from looming destruction!

One of the qualifiers I use when reviewing the new crop of 3-D films is to imagine the same movie without the flashy stereoscopy. If I think the movie would hold up on it’s own without the optical effects then it gets a passing grade. If not, then I knock a star or two off the rating. 3-D should enhance storytelling, not replace it.

Recently Coraline earned my highest rating. It’s a beautifully animated film that uses 3-D to augment an already compelling movie. My Bloody Valentine on the other hand, took a bit of a smack down because it mistook special effects for a plot. Monsters Vs. Aliens falls somewhere between the two.
The animation and 3-D in the film is top notch. Unfortunately the outstanding tech side isn’t supported by a strong enough story or interesting enough voice work to place this in the same category as other DreamWorks movies like Kung Fu Panda or Shrek.

With humor aimed at kids, the kitsch factor at movie geeks (like me) and action for teens and young adults Monsters Vs. Aliens is a warm tribute to the mad science b-movies of the 50s that gets much of the tone right, but like the pictures that inspired it, is more fun to imagine than actually sit through.

These extraterrestrials are so G In Focus by Richard Crouse IN FOCUS July 30, 2009

Planet51-1This is turning into a banner year for family friendly aliens. Recently, Reese Witherspoon and a team of misfit monsters successfully saved our planet from a gang of G-rated extraterrestrials in Monsters vs Aliens and in Race to Witch Mountain a cab driver learned that not all space invaders are “little green people with antennas.”

Later this year the cute and cuddly animated aliens of Planet 51 will be invaded by an astronaut from Earth and in this weekend’s Aliens in the Attic a group of kids protects their vacation home from creatures from outer space.

E.T.s in kids’ entertainment are nothing new. The futuristic animated utopia of the Jetsons, featuring aliens galore, originally ran on Saturday morning television in the early ’60s, but has since been spun off into comics, games, a short-lived 1980s TV series, television movies and a 1990 feature film imaginatively called Jetsons: The Movie.

Around the same time The Jetsons were on the small screen, a movie The Monster Times called “the worst science fiction flick ever, bar none” was entering theatres. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, released in 1964, is a no-budget wonder which ping-pongs from so-bad-it’s-good right back to bad again. Cinematically it may be the biggest Christmas turkey ever, but its crazy story, about Martians kidnapping Santa so their little green kids can get some presents just like human children, is a guilty pleasure.

The ’70s and ’80s were a particularly fertile time for kiddie “take me to your leader” movies. Of course there were the original three Star Wars movies, E.T. (and the shameless E.T. rip-off Mac and Me) but looking past Lucas and Spielberg reveals other, not as well-known alien movies for the rugrats.

Invaders from Mars, from Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper, sees a teenage hero (actress Karen Black’s real life son Hunter Carson) enlist the help of a school nurse (played by his mother) and the Marines to prevent aliens from assuming human form and taking over his hometown.

Finally, also worth a look is Explorers, a 1985 kid’s flick starring Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix as BFFs whose dream of intergalactic travel comes true when they build a homemade spaceship, complete with a Tilt-a-Whirl cockpit. It was the feature film debut for both Hawke and Phoenix and while it isn’t groundbreaking sci-fi, it’s a fun film for the whole family.