I think it was with Bolt that I first saw the trailer for Monsters vs. Aliens, I know it was with something 3D. The moment I saw it I knew I had to see it. Seriously, how could it go wrong? You have a collection of various monsters, some dastardly aliens, a threat to Earth, mix well and let it rip. Sounds like an absolute blast, and with the characters shown, would seem to have the potential to bring an experience similar to last year's Kung Fu Panda. Unfortunately, as I sit here thinking back on the experience and can only lament the lack of genuine entertainment. It is not a bad film by a long shot, but it is one that has its moments, but more often than not feels like it is stuck in neutral.
As the story begins, we are introduced to Susan (Reese Witherspoon) on her wedding day. She is about to enter wedded bliss with Derek (Paul Rudd) a local weatherman with big plans for his, not necessarily their, future. Before they get to walk down the aisle to tie the knot, a mysterious meteor comes crashing through the atmosphere and landing square on Susan; so begins a new life path for the would be bride. As she dusts herself off and heads into the church something strange happens. She begins to glow and grow to enormous proportions. Her physical changes send the guests running from the church, screaming, looking for shelter.
It does not take long for the military to show up, intent on subduing the now enormous fifty-foot tall Susan. Confused, scared, and not knowing what is happening, the military succeeds in its task. With this, Susan's dreams of honeymooning in Paris are replaced with a question mark for her own future.
Susan wakes up in an underground bunker where she meets her new roomies, a ragtag collection of monsters captured by the military over the span of decades. They were captured to protect them from themselves and keep the away from the population at large, letting the people still think creatures are something in their imaginations.
Anyway, Susan is having trouble adjusting to her new digs, which she shares with B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a sentient gelatinous mass, The Missing Link (Will Arnett), Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), and the gigantic Insectosaurus.
The plan is to keep them locked up for life, but that changes when a mysterious alien robot arrives a need arises, a need for something a bit more extreme than what the armed forces can provide. The group of monsters is released from containment and unleashed upon the evil alien forces.
Seriously, when you look at the description it looks like a great concept. The problem is that it lost something in the translation. There were times where the narrative dragged and not much was happening. It gave me an odd sense of detachment from a story that should be right up my alley. Still, it is not all bad.
Scattered throughout the film are homages to science fiction movies and creature features from the 1950's. These elements are very well done, mostly because they are not blatant references to said features, they are more subtle, references to the cliches that were pioneered during the period, a loving tribute that begins with an old-looking black and white Dreamworks logo used to open the film.
The voice performances were generally good with Seth Rogen turning in the most memorable performance as B.O.B. There is something about the guy that is naturally funny even when he doesn't seem to be trying. Other notable voice performances include Kiefer Sutherland as General W.R. Monger and Stephen Colbert as the President.
What helps improve the cinematic experience is the 3D process. There are those who are not fans of the process, I am not one of them. It is used to very good effect here. There are a few things that pop out at the audience, but more often it is used to add depth to the screen, helping to give the on screen action added weight.
Bottomline. Not nearly as entertaining as I had hoped, but not so bad as to not be worth watching. It is a solid film that provides laughs, will keep the kids happy and remind adults of the films of their youth. Overall, it is positive experience, just one that could have been better.