Megamind

Cast:
Will Ferrell as Megamind (voice)
Brad Pitt as Metro Man (voice)
Tina Fey as Roxanne Ritchi (voice)
Jonah Hill as Tighten (voice)
David Cross as Minion (voice)
Justin Theroux as Bernard (voice)
Ben Stiller as Megamind’s Father (voice)
Jessica Schulte as Megamind’s Mother (voice)
Tom McGrath as Lord Scott / Prison Guard (voice)
Emily Nordwind as Lady Scott (voice)
J.K. Simmons as Warden (voice)
Christopher Knights as Prison Guard (voice)

Directed by Tom McGrath

Summary:
Funny characters, impressive 3D animation, and a comic book inspired plot make “Megamind” a movie the whole family can enjoy. It’s well worth checking out in theaters despite the fact that ads reveal a few spoilers and the finale is a tad familiar.

Story:
Superhero Metro Man and super-villain Megamind have been rivals for a very long time. So long, in fact, that they’ve settled into a routine – Megamind hatches a diabolical scheme and kidnaps Roxanne Ritchi, Metro Man intervenes and saves the day, Megamind goes to jail and then soon afterwards escapes. The process then repeats itself again and again and again.

But to the shock of everyone, including Megamind himself, he actually kills Metro Man one day. Megamind and his minion… uh… Minion have complete control of the entire city. The authorities are powerless to stop him as he does whatever he wants. But much to Megamind’s surprise, he gets bored with absolute power. In fact, he gets painfully nostalgic about the good old days of battling Metro Man. What’s a super-villain to do without a hero to fight?

“Megamind” is rated PG for action and some language.

What Worked:
Being a comic book geek, I loved “Megamind.” It took all the classic comic book tropes and poked fun at them to great effect. From the ineffectual villain to the hokey traps to the ridiculous outfits, nothing is left untouched. Then the story says, “OK, Lex Luthor, you’ve taken over the world… now what?” That’s where it gets fun. The villain finds everything he ever hoped for and is still unsatisfied. He’s kind of the rock star who attained his every dream and is depressed about it.

Megamind, voiced by Will Ferrell, is a fun character. He mispronounces words. (He repeatedly calls Metro City “Metrocity,” like “atrocity”.) He is delightfully evil while being slightly incompetent. For Megamind, the presentation of his evil plot is almost more important than the plot itself. Yet despite his evil side, he’s still likable and sympathetic. When he does eventually have his change of heart, it’s believable.

Metro Man, voiced by Brad Pitt, is also a fun character. When we’re introduced to him as an adult, he’s greeted by thousands of adoring fans. He wears a tasseled outfit like Elvis and, to further drive home the point, he is introduced to Elvis music. As if that wasn’t subtle enough, Metro Man addresses the crowd while literally walking on water. Combine Elvis, Jesus, and Superman and you see what they were going for. It’s a shame he’s not in the movie more, but this show is more about Megamind than him.

Then there’s Tina Fey as Roxanne Ritchi. She makes a great Lois Lane. She’s funny, feisty, and more than holds her own with Ferrell as Megamind. The two are a lot of fun on the screen together and when she, too, has a change of heart about Megamind, it’s also believable. Joining her in excellent performances are David Cross, Jonah Hill, and J.K. Simmons.

The music in “Megamind” is fun, too. You hear the aforementioned Elvis, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jackson, and more. Throw in a score by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe and you see how it’s a fun soundtrack.

The movie also has a lot of fun in-jokes that adults will enjoy but kids might miss. There’s a fantastic Donkey Kong reference, a Karate Kid reference, a Marlon Brando as Jor-El reference, and more. A great kid movie is one that adults will also enjoy, and that’s the case with “Megamind.” It’s one of those family films that truly the whole family can have fun at.

A lot of people complain about the overuse of 3D, but it works in “Megamind.” As you can imagine, any movie with flying superheroes is going to look great in 3D and that’s the case here. We follow Metro Man and others as they fly between buildings. We see Megamind’s flying ‘Brain Bots’ buzzing around the screen. The 3D really enhances the animation rather than coming off as a gimmick to jack up ticket prices.

What Didn’t Work:
My biggest gripe about “Megamind” is that the trailers and commercials spoil a lot of the movie. If you’ve seen them, then you know Metro Man isn’t really dead. This is a plot point that isn’t even revealed until about 3/4 of the way into the film. It would have been a lot more of a shock to realize he faked his death later in the story. The trailers also ruined the fact that Jonah Hill’s character would get superpowers. Again, that should have stayed a surprise in the film, yet they intentionally ruined it. Even people avoiding spoilers couldn’t have avoided these. I mean, the movie poster even spoils the Tighten twist.

Talking about spoilers… if you’re avoiding them, you may want to skip the next paragraph.

As we watched the movie, I started thinking that something about the last third of the story felt really familiar. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized what it was. My wife said, “Tighten reminded me a lot of Syndrome from ‘The Incredibles.’” She was right. Both characters were formally good guys. Both characters were twisted into villains by the lead character. Both characters go nuts in the finale. Both are ultimately defeated in a city-leveling battle. You don’t realize how close they are while you’re watching the movie, but it eventually becomes quite obvious. It’s a shame because “Megamind” was pretty original up until the end.

The Bottom Line:
Between “Megamind” and “How To Train Your Dragon,” DreamWorks Animation is really on a roll with their animation. This is one worth checking out in theaters.

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