Reviews

Review: Megamind

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Finally a movie with the guts to change up the super hero formula! I saw the 3D version of this film last night and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I had a good example of why Despicable Me was a bad movie that got way more attention and applause than it deserved. I was impressed by how excellent and effortlessly the first act of Megamind went, with it even feeling like I was watching a Pixar for a while.

The story keeps up a good pace for a while and has a fulfilling conclusion, but a mediocre middle is the only thing holding me back from saying this is one of the best family films of the year. Add some great storyboarding and scene layouts, and you’ve also got a 3D movie that makes you glad you paid extra for the glasses.  Hit the jump for more details on the many things it did right and the few things that held the middle back, as well as links to the reviews of two other Flixist editors!

Finally a movie with the guts to change up the super hero formula! I saw the 3D version of this film last night and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I had a good example of why Despicable Me was a bad movie that got way more attention and applause than it deserved. I was impressed by how excellent and effortlessly the first act of Megamind went, with it even feeling like I was watching a Pixar for a while.

The story keeps up a good pace for a while and has a fulfilling conclusion, but a mediocre middle is the only thing holding me back from saying this is one of the best family films of the year. Add some great storyboarding and scene layouts, and you’ve also got a 3D movie that makes you glad you paid extra for the glasses.  Hit the jump for more details on the many things it did right and the few things that held the middle back, as well as links to the reviews of two other Flixist editors!{{page_break}}

Megamind starts off by one upping the famous Superman planet exodus story with a normal looking human baby, Metro Man (Brad Pitt), and a blue alien, Megamind (Will Ferrell), landing on Earth. Metro Man lands in a loving home while Megamind lands in a prison yard, and the stage is set for their youth. One gets all the warm memories while the other gets to play with criminals. One is the hero of the classroom while the other is a social outcast who screws up everything. Eventually Megamind embraces the negative energy and decides to start a lifelong battle against his rival to take over the world. A newspaper montage even has him admitting he usually (always) loses, but he jokes that he really really really comes close each time. With the help of his head minion (David Cross) he breaks free from jail for the 80th time (he has about 85 life sentences), and begins the cycle all over once again. Except this time it works, and he actually kills Metro Man!

It was fascinating to see where the film would go from here, and the loneliness and confusion surrounding Megamind as his life suddenly is without purpose is captured flawlessly for scene after scene, making the first act of this movie astonishingly superb for a family movie. Whereas Despicable Me’s minions were shamelessly ripping off Rayman Rabid Rabbits and dozens of other lifeless creature designs, Megamind actually has his mechanical gang become a part of the plot, and even uses them for a cool 3D scene. Since this isn’t a movie about the funny faces of the voice actors in real life, it doesn’t try to be too funny, but in between showing us a wide range of the waxy looking characters’ emotions, it easily stitches in plenty of clever banter to prove it’s not a hollow film.

 The film even successfully handles the next logical step for this new formula: Megamind realizes he needs to create a new hero so that he can continue to fight someone. Great staircase to walk up, yet it trips and stumbles quite a bit from here. The Lois Lane styled news reporter woman, Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey), that he always holds hostage ends up being his unattainable love interest, and her nerdy camera man, Titan (Jonah Hill), who’s infatuated with her slowly becomes enraged as he sees Roxanne fall in love with another man.

This was definitely the right path to follow on this new formula, but it’s not handled well, and after we see Megamind give him the powers that turn him into a super hero, we run into several pacing issues. It always feels like these kinds of CGI films desperately try to make a memorable and endearing female lead role, and it’s definitely achieved with Roxanne, but everything about Titan seems off. His nerdy, normal self is more grotesque than necessary, his hero body looks even creepier, and his entire art direction was an all around blunder. After a tedious twenty minutes of watching an underwhelming detective scene play out and waiting for the nerd-to-hero transformation to finish, we see the effortless and affective scenes return, and another good choice for how to carry this new formula out.

We actually see enough to believe Roxanne is falling for someone, and in a step that I absolutely loved, there are even two scenes where the film stops trying to be a kiddy CGI story, and instead attempts to make a completely real romantic scene. No funny expressions, no slapstick lines, no 3D goofiness at all. The endearing Dory scene from Finding Nemo came to mind as I saw Megamind’s face filled with realistic pain and despair, with Roxanne’s hair fluttering in the rain and showing emotional harm that had been done. I wasn’t expecting such an amazing example of 3D animation to come from such a childish movie, and I love that Megamind comes out of its shell a few times like this. I felt more love in Tina Fey than I did when I saw every pore in her face during Date Night, and I felt more love in Ferrell than I did in the exceptionally odd Stranger Than Fiction. The fact that this movie was able to accomplish this, combined with a bold plot with few mistakes, makes it stand above the rest of the mediocre CGI films we’ve seen in recent years.

Overall Score: 7.25 – Good.(7s are good, but not great. These films often have a stereotypical plot or are great movies that have a few minor flaws. Fans of this movie’s genre might love it, but others will still enjoy seeing it in theaters.)

Geoff Henao:

Overall Score: 5.30 – It’s so disappointing that Megamind doesn’t live up to the level of entertainment that its cast should warrant. If you’re expecting a lot of laughs, this isn’t the movie you want to turn to. Toy Story 3 is out on home media now… just saying. You can read his entire review here!

Toby Jones:

Overall Score: 6.20 – Megamind isn't nearly good enough to stand up agains the best Pixar has to offer, but at least it's reasonably sharp and free of sassy talking animals. You can read his entire review here!