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Saturday, February 26, 2011


One of the best posters ever.

The anti-superhero film of last year blasted onto DVD yesterday, so I sat down and took another look at what made me enjoy it so much. And while it winds up being Dreamworks' answer to Pixar's The Incredibles, the film stands on its own as a sharp-witted and fully realized, not to mention wildly funny, piece of escapism. 

More after the cut --

A grievance that I have with most films nowadays is the abundance of 3D technology. Roger Ebert and I have the same complaint - movies that use the format are usually too dim to experience the action fully, or the movie just can't be enhanced by it. Consider a film like How To Train Your Dragon - beautifully designed computer animation that seamlessly uses the 3D technology to make the design of the film almost tangible; I'd say it has the best use of the technology since Avatar. Then consider Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Jackass 3D - two live action films that bring the third dimension to a brand new level, and use it flawlessly. Aside from Jackass, those films relied heavily on computer graphics to enhance the 3D in order to enhance the film. Then, consider a film like Sanctum, and how dark the atmosphere was designed to be. Was it enhanced at all by its use of 3D? No. All it succeeded in doing was making the film even harder to see.

Animated films are served better by the format's use. The colors are brighter and the action is all computer generated anyway (well, at least in today's animated movies). Other live action films that have benefited are the My Bloody Valentine remake and, of course, Coraline. I didn't enjoy Coraline at all, but the use of 3D should be taught in film classes. In Megamind, though, I can't decide whether the film was enhanced by it or not - on one hand, the 3D made it all a bit more dim than it should have been. On the other hand, it was fun, in the same way that Resident Evil: Afterlife was; though, that film was made using the Avatar cameras. So, its comparison here is a bit unevenly matched. 

Still, regardless of the hindrances brought about by its needless (if entertaining) 3D, Megamind is a bucket of fun for all ages. The film highlights itself with seamless riffs on superhero lore and references to classic movies that helped shape it (the intro is almost right out of Richard Donner's Superman). It also lays a stage for its brilliantly sharp cast to have more than enough fun with their characters, and gives them room to stretch for some range. Tina Fey harks back to Lois Lane with her reporter, Will Ferrell creates something almost entirely of his own with his giant-headed blue creature, and Brad Pitt swings for the fences and delivers a genuinely funny portrayal of Metro City's golden boy "Metro Man". Even David Cross' evil henchman gets the biggest laughs as Minion, a fish with a robot's body. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the cast, for me, though was Jonah Hill as the lovesick sidekick to Tina Fey's jaded reporter Roxanne. 

The story examines what it is to be a villain, and asks if evil can exist on its own without good. Of course, evil (theoretically) can not exist purely and on its own; it must have company. So, when Metro Man leaves the picture, Megamind without his arch-nemesis. He must create company, but in doing so he creates a villain to his villain that might be too strong for him to stop. So, he must make the choice - exist solely as evil, or become good to create the balance. The story comes from that, and is blisteringly funny. I love it when comedic actors get a chance to flex their dramatic muscles in funny situations. Here, there are several moments of that, particularly for Jonah Hill who, as he displayed in Cyrus, has more dramatic prowess than he's been given credit for in the past. Hopefully, he'll find his way into a full-fledged drama soon. Will Ferrell, of course, has been in dramas before and has excelled. He's a truly gifted actor, even if he doesn't know when to let up sometimes.