(Originally written Nov. 2010)
A Beautiful “Megamind”
By Charles Jurries
What if the bad guy won for once? Would it be sad, funny, or both?
That curiosity helped to form the premise for Dreamworks Animations’ latest film, “Megamind.”
The film follows the adventures of the Lex Luthor-type Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell), who has been a lifelong rival of the Superman figure in the film, Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt). After one day managing to win in a fight again his nemesis, Megamind finds himself without purpose in life, and struggles to maintain his evilness, all while trying to win the heart of reporter Roxanne Ritchi (voiced by Tina Fey).
While the film is clearly meant to be enjoyed as 96 minutes of light-hearted escapism, it assumes you come in with some amount of intelligence. Indeed, for the film to even work, you have to be aware of it being a farce on the overused “hero beats bad guy” formula that is seen in, well, most other superhero films.
The film even addresses the audience’s knowledge with the genre, with a scene in which Ritchi finds herself kidnapped, yet commenting on how cliché every weapon of villainy has become, from an alligator tank to saws and knives.
While the plot is fairly predictable, the willingness to turn the superhero formula on its head makes the film work. It isn’t just a superhero movie. It’s a movie about a villain figuring out his purpose in life if he has nothing to be criminal against. I certainly did not see that storyline in the latest “Superman” offering.
Aesthetically, the film is beautifully animated. While various characters are flying all around the city, the attention to detail in everything from the foreground to the background is incredible. There was never a moment where the quality of animation took me away from a moment. The colorful, cartoonish world they created for this film worked wonders.
“Megamind” looks great in 3-D, although, I think the film would still be enjoyable in regular – cheaper – 2-D. The depth was great, especially during the flight sequences. However, as a whole, I do not think the film would lose anything without the 3-D effects.
The voice acting in this film was superb. Will Ferrell and Tina Fey were very expressive and made their characters come to life. Ferrell even did a good job of taking on a character voice for playing Megamind. Even the acting-challenged Jonah Hill, who voiced a somewhat important character in the film, did a decent job.
While the film is generally good, clean fun, there are a few fleeting moments that may scare or worry younger children. While the film isn’t excluding kids from its audience at all, I should note the adults in the audience I was in laughed a lot more than their kids did.
“Megamind” is a fun, humorous look at what happens when the bad guy wins the day. Good writing, voice talent and animation save the day. While you won’t be surprised at any plot development, it will keep you entertained until the end.
Best of all, while you may need to understand why the premise works, you yourself will not need a mega mind to enjoy “Megamind.”
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