Monday, December 27, 2010


Just the way one looks forward to a Pixar movie to see what new way they're going to find to take your breath away, one goes to watch a DreamWorks movie with the comfort of expecting a funny, pop culture referency, slightly predictable but overall n i c e movie. Megamind doesn't disappoint.

A planet in a distant galaxy is about to be destroyed; a baby is placed on board a space shuttle and sent away to fulfill his destiny-- what exactly that destiny is, he doesn't know. The space shuttle lands in a prison and the little baby is lovingly brought up by a bunch of hardened criminals to become the ultimate supervillian of all time-- MEGAMIND!

But all of Megamind's dastardly plots are stopped by the greatest superhero of all time-- MetroMan! And round and round the mulberry bush they go every time: beautiful and daring reporter Roxanne kidnapped, evil plot, alligators, death ray guns, day is saved by MetroMan, Megamind thrown behind bars, yada yada... all in a day's work. Till of course, one of the cogs in the machine stop working. That's when the other cogs in the machine realize that they have no purpose.

What I loved about the movie:

The exploring of the relationship between a superhero and a supervillian, albeit in a lighter vein. You can see influences from the Batman-Joker universe from Alan Moore’s A Killing Joke/ Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. A superhero and a supervillian are nothing without each other. And perhaps, they are the only two who truly get each other. Okay yes, Megamind didn’t explore very great creative depths, but I’m always for movies that question traditional stories of good versus evil. And a supervillian with an existential crisis is just super-adorable.

What I didn't love so much:

Like I said, while DreamWorks always makes excellent watchable movies, it doesn't really push its creative boundaries. Shrek worked so well, because they realized that animated movies are as much an attraction to adults as children. The whole turning-fairy-tales-upside-down thing? Genius. But they’ve gone and made that a formula. You know, with the whole kung-fu-movie-retold thing, and the scary-dragon-Viking-retold thing and now the superhero-supervillian-upside-down thing. The movies are just not standing out any more. They’re all great, heartwarming and funny movies, but none of them are “one for the ages”.

What They will hate about the movie:

I will call out anybody who called DreamWorks “poor man’s Pixar”. Both studios have totally different USPs and creative methods, so just because they both make animated movies does not make them comparable. I’m very much in agreement with Danish who has always held that animated movies are no longer a genre, but merely a mode of storytelling (The inclusion of Up in last year's Oscar nominees means that people are finally paying heed to Danish).

Then they will say that’s all very well, but what about Despicable Me (2010) which released just a few months ago and is about the exact same supervillian thing? Okay yes, the plot is similar to the extent that both movies are about adorable super-villians, but the premise is totally different. In Despicable Me, Gru was trying to be the greatest supervillian of all time; in Megamind, Megamind already IS the greatest supervillian. Also, in Despicable Me, there is no interaction between the superhero and the supervillian. Finally, Megamind isn’t a supervillian out of choice, but out of a sense of fatality. That makes all the difference.

They will also say “The whole deeper message thing is so unsubtle!”

There JUST isn’t any pleasing them, is there? I’m not going to counter this by saying, “It’s a children’s movie!” Sure, some movies end up heavy handed and amateurish because of the (Not-So) Deep Symbolism and the OMG Important and Deep Message effect, but it doesn’t affect others. Some movies are all about the message. This is one of those.

Bottom line? This movie won’t make it to your All-Time Greatest Movies shelf, but it will give you excellent value for overpriced ticket and popcorn money.

1 comment:

  1. finally saw it. One thing that took me by surprise was how well plotted it was - while there was some degree of predictability on one hand with the general take on the genre, the movie offsets it by making some key unpredictable choices, and is constantly refreshing that way.

    but yes, comparisons cannot - and should not - be made with pixar. Let's leave it to Studio Ghibli to play with our perceptions of reality, to Pixar to melt our hearts into one collective blob of joy, and Dreamworks, well, - to ensure we have a reasonably fun time at the movies.