Megamind

2010-12-17 11:15
 
Megamind
What it's about:

Megamind, a not particularly effective supervillain, suddenly finds himself in a world without superheroes – and without purpose. What is a poor supervillain to do but create his own arch-nemesis? But this time Megamind might have bit off even more than he can chew.

What we thought:

Megamind plays with the very well-worn superhero genre staple of supervillains being defined by the heroes they battle. And vice versa, of course. While the comparisons to The Incredibles and this year's Despicable Me are most obvious, Megamind also brings to mind M Night Shyamalan's last great film, Unbreakable. And, of course, like all superhero films, it owes an obvious debt to the comics from which the entire genre originated. It is not, to put it succinctly, original.

It is also not truly remarkable in the way that The Incredibles so obviously was, displaying none of the same levels of wit, invention or humanity of what was one of Pixar's greatest achievements. Hollywood has a habit of milking profitable trends for all they're worth and Megamind is clearly just another attempt to capitalise on the canon of superhero films that have been flooding the market over the last few years. That it's a trend that shows no sign of slowing down and has produced more than its fair share of mega-blockbusters and critical darlings, doesn't entirely dispel the cynical notion that Megamind is just further proof that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. As if all the remakes and sequels weren't enough to hammer that particular point home.
 
Despite all this, Megamind turns out to be a far better film than its apparently meagre and fairly crass origins would dare suggest. It is, for a start, very, very funny thanks to a sharp script and impressive comedic talent in the form of Tina Fey, David Cross, Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, JK Simmons and, in the eponymous role, Will Ferrell, lending their voices to the production. Even Brad Pitt is hilariously smarmy as obnoxious superhero Metro Man. Dreamworks are infamous for their stunt voice-casting but this time, the big comedic names clearly paid off.

Beyond the comedy though, as it goes about poking gentle fun at the genre's conventions and stereotypes, Megamind clearly revels in being a superhero film. It has some great action scenes and, while it is not without some predictability, there are some fun plot twists to be had. More impressive still, it actually manages to capture all the great emotional beats that have made the superhero genre such an endearing, endurable force in contemporary pop culture. It's a film that doesn't shy away from the inherent adolescent wish fulfilment origins of the genre but it also brings out all the imagination, wonder and hope of the best superhero stories.   

What really pushes it over the edge though, is the hilarious and original motivation for Megamind's villainy. He's not really a bad egg, you see. It's just that he came to earth at the same time as the film's Superman stand-in Metro Man, and while Metro Man had the good looks, good luck and fortunate upbringing – not to mention actual superpowers – to make him an instant superhero, Megamind was nowhere near so lucky. He may be a mega-genius (albeit a mega-genius with a slight speech impediment – he has some trouble saying simple words like "hello") but, in comparison to Metro Man, he just isn't any good at being good so he decides to try his luck at being bad instead.

It's these kinds of little touches that give the film an edge over something like Despicable Me, which might have been a perfectly decent and very cute attempt at similar subject matter but simply doesn't come close to Megamind in terms of sharp laughs and thrilling action scenes. So, sure, Megamind may not be as groundbreaking as The Incredibles, but it's still a superior slice of escapist cinema that easily earns its bronze medal in this year's kid-friendly animation stakes – slotting right in behind How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3. Two movies that offer some pretty damn great company.

A very, very funny comedy-adventure that makes full use of its star voice cast, including Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Brad Pitt.
Read more on:    dreamworks  |  brad pitt  |  will ferrell  |  review  |  movies

CTheB 2010/12/20 2:24 PM
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I see the send-up nods to great movies of the past (the most obvious being Superman, but there were others, including The Godfather) didn't merit a mention from the reviewer. I felt those nods added significantly to the comedy.
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