Thursday, November 11, 2010

Film Review: Megamind

*** 1\2 (out of ****)

Although I try to review as many different genres as I possibly can there are a few I have not devoted as much time to as I should. One of those genres is animated films. In fact, animation is one of my weakest points in cinema. I know about the history of live actions films; the Lumiere Brothers in Paris, the early films of Georges Melies and the importance of D.W. Griffith and how "Birth of A Nation" (1915, which I have reviewed) changed cinema. But animation. I couldn't tell you much about its history.

What was the first animated short? I have no clue. All I know is Mickey Mouse made his debut in 1928 in Walt Disney's short "Steamboat Willie". The first animated feature film was also given to us by Disney, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and I know "Toy Story" (1995) changed modern animation as we know it. But that about does it.

Outside of a few Pixar films and the work of Hayao Miyazaki I rarely watch animated films. It is big business though for Hollywood. There is a lot of money in making family films. And a lot of them have managed to find there way into our pop culture. Recently I saw the Broadway adaptation of "Shrek" based on the extremely popular "Shrek" series of films.

But as I've gotten older for some reason I've been watching more and more animated films. And this all leads us to "Megamind" (2010). The latest animated work from Dreamworks.

It's hard out there for a super villain, isn't it? Think about it. All day planing out ways to take over the world. Always getting beaten by the hero. Landing in jail. Where's the appreciation of all of their hard work? People always boo them, cheering on the hero. Hoping for the villain to fail. What about the villain's side of the story?

That is basically what "Megamind" is. It is the story of a super villain, the supreme evil genius Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell).

Megamind, since a child, has wondered, what is his place on this planet. What was his fate. How does he fit in? What is he good at. Like any young person (what exactly is Megamind) he flounders through life attempting to fit in. He gets picked on in school. He's different. And all the kids seem to love Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt).

Metro Man is everything Megamind isn't. He's popular, good looking, and good. He is out to save the day. To fight evil and protect the fair city of Metro City.

Their rivalry started as school children when Megamind and Metro Man attended the same school. Megamind became jealous of Metro Man's popularity and decided the one thing he was good at was being bad. But Megamind wouldn't just settle on being bad. He was going to go all the way and thus the birth of a super villain.

Walking into "Megamind" I wasn't exactly sure what to expect but for some reason I really wanted to see this. And I'm glad I did. "Megamind" is one of the most enjoyable times I had at the theatre. The film is a pure delight from beginning to end. A very pleasurable, light diversion. Judging from the audience response, it is also something the kids are going to enjoy. The kids I saw this movie with couldn't stop laughing.

But like most animated films there is a lesson to be learned here. Some of those lessons are the battle of good and evil within us. We are only as good (or bad) as the decisions we make in life. We all have the ability to do good. It is possible to change who we are. And there is a love story mixed in here which tells us, the love of a good woman can change any man or thing (I still don't know what Megamind is).

The love interest is given to us by ace reporter Roxanne Ritchi (voiced by Tina Fey). She is thought to be the love interest of Metro Man. But in actuality is the love interest of all the major male characters including her cameraman Hal (voiced by Johah Hill) who has not been so subtle in revealing his feelings towards her.

The idea of giving us a movie told from the villain's point of view apparently has already been done this year, "Despicable Me" (2010) was the animated film which beat "Megamind". I must admit I have not seen that movie so I cannot compare which film does a better job with this material. But, I'd like to believe there is room for both films to be enjoyed.

I really enjoyed the voice by Ferrell. I'm not usually a fan of his goofy live action comedies but he has some funny lines in this movie. It allows him to go into different accents and gives him a lot of room for comedy. I wouldn't be surprised if Ferrell is asked to do more of these type of films. He is a giant kid himself and I bet had a pretty good time voicing this character.

I did have some questions about Metro Man though. Without revealing too much, is he really as good as he seems? Metro Man seems a bit too arrogant in my opinion. He gloats too much about his accomplishments. Is that what a superhero is suppose to do?

Throughout this month I plan on celebrating the animated film. I'll be coming back to this genre. For now "Megamind" is well worth seeing. It is a real joy and if you have kids I'm going to bet they will enjoy it too. But, even if you don't have children, the adults and older teenagers are going to get a kick out of this. And that's the mark of a good movie.

Note: "Megamind" is being marketed as a 3-D movie. I saw the movie in standard 2-D.