Megamind (2010 movie) review…

Megamind (2010 movie) review after the break…

Megamind (2010 movie) review…

What happens when a villain is forced to become a hero? The 2010 CGI-animated movie, “Megamind,” attempts to answer that question. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t nearly as entertaining as it could have been.

“Megamind” stars comedian Will Ferrell as the title character, a cranially-enhanced blue humanoid from another world a la “Superman” who, unlike the son of Jor-El, spends his upbringing in a prison rather then on a midwestern farm. Megamind turns to evil just as quickly as chin-endowed Metro Man (voiced by Brad Pitt) turns to good, having been brought up in a Batman-esque setting without the part where his parents are gunned down after a screening of “Zorro.” Defender of Metro City, Metro Man is every bit like “Superman” without the intellectual property.

Being a comedy, Megamind’s plans are habitually thwarted by Metro Man to such a degree that such nefarious schemes are now plainly predictable to his most likely hostage, the sweet television reporter Roxanne Ritchie (voiced by Tina Fey) who has had a long, supposed romance with Metro Man. Yet, when Metro Man opens up a museum dedicated to his heroic deeds (usually with Megamind being on the business end of them), Megamind achieves the unthinkable – He seemingly kills Metro Man. The event stuns everyone and attempts to answer the question that most think – What would happen if Lex Luthor actually defeated Superman? Or if The Joker finally murdered Batman?

With no other superhero to compete against, Megamind becomes bored and attempts to create a new superhero. Unfortunately, that new superhero, a television cameraman named Hal Stewart who has an unhealthy crush (bordering on stalking) on Roxanne, begins to take his superhero powers for granted. When Roxanne outright rejects Hal’s romantic advances later on, he becomes an enraged super villain who Megamind must reluctantly stop. Added to the mix is Megamind’s own romantic yearnings for Roxanne when he is secretly disguised as the nerd-like Bernard and his internal struggle with whether or not he is evil after all.

I honestly feel bad for Dreamworks – They have a hopeless addiction to pop culture references that dilutes any gravitas it tries to form in their story lines. While some of them are cute in this movie (evil sidekick Minion, for instance, bears more then a passing resemblance to the monster in Robot Monster), a lot of them are groan-inducing (the obvious Marlon Brando-esque portrayal, the Donkey Kong training level, the Elvis-like revelation of one of the main characters) and doesn’t carry the story forward.

Another aspect of animated movies that I increasingly dislike, Dreamworks and Pixar alike, are the use of celebrity voices when none are truly necessary. I must have tin ears because I couldn’t hear Will Ferrell as Megamind and could only detect the slightest hint of Brad Pitt in Metro Man. I honestly don’t know a single person who looked at this film and said to themselves, “Oh, Brad Pitt is voicing a character in this film, I’ll now go see it because of that and only that.” Animated movies are not live-action movies – The actors have little creative control over their performances unlike live action where you see and hear the actors unfiltered. Why studios need to inflate their budgets by hiring well-known and expensive actors when equally (and, usually, more so) talented but infinitely cheaper voice actors go scrounging for jobs is a characteristic of Hollywood that will always elude me. I’d love it if, for once, the actors secretly have their names used in an animated movie but voice actors are the ones who actually read the lines and then see if the public catches on.

Cute moments abound in this film (such as when Roxanne, as a hostage, interrupts the cliched bickering of Metro Man and Megamind) but, like the Frankenstein’s monster, the sum of the parts are less then the parts individually. Having a villain breed a superhero had great potential but, in this movie, it falls flat when it must compete with a sub-plot into whether Metro Man was truly killed or not. Metro Man, as a character, is virtually wasted because his ultimate resolution falls flat. Wouldn’t it have been bolder if he had actually been killed for real? The movie is rated PG after all. The entire sub-plot of creating a new superhero could have been streamlined if Metro Man had a sidekick who turned evil instead, shaving valuable minutes off of that sub-plot to add to more of the main plot of fighting a new super villain… Or if the evil sidekick of Megamind turned good? Or if Roxanne wasn’t as sweet and innocent as she’s portrayed but, more like modern newscasters, is more promotionally savvy then is given credit towards?

That’s ultimately the problem with “Megamind” – There’s a lot of wasted opportunity in this film where the sides are flipped and evil must be good. In a film where the question of what is evil and what is good must be raised, neither of these questions are really addressed nor are they answered. Titan, the substitute superhero, is actually more of a villain then Megamind because his “evil” is more of a serious and emotional nature (almost an Anakin Skywalker-ish evil) then Megamind’s shallowly humorous megalomania. Instead of always being defeated, why not have Megamind achieve victories but that they are always large in his mind but small in actual scale, like switching all of the coffee in the city from regular to decaf – Serious to him but nothing more then a harmless inconvenience in reality?

“Megamind” is harmless enough in small 5 to 10 minute doses but, taken as a whole, falls far short of a fully-fleshed out movie. It feels more like a comedy sketch that goes on for far longer then the material allows.

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