It’s not an animation which reinvents the wheel, but particularly in 3D ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ rocks! Ginormica (Reese Witherspoon), the Missing Link, Dr Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), Insectosaurus and B.O.B. (Seth Rogen) are the team of monsters collected clandestinely by Kiefer Sutherland’s General, who when aliens attack, must save the world! Quite oddly the film is let down by what little plot it has – Susan/Ginormica’s relationship with overly ambitious TV anchorman Paul Rudd. Her quest to end up married to him after their wedding is interrupted by her getting struck by the meteor which gives her her powers propels about half the film forward, and it’s more than slightly duff – partly because you know from the outset which way it’s going to go.
The other plotline however, involving the foundation of the team, is chock full of smiles, a few laugh out loud moments (almost all with Seth Rogen’s B.O.B./blob) and some quite touching moments. It’s perhaps a testament to the animators that my favourite character was Insectosaurus (who doesn’t have a voice), but the interplay between all these misfits is extremely engaging. What pushes the film onto a whole different level of course is the 3D animation – quite extraordinary on multiple occasions. It takes a bit of getting used to, but even the President’s attempt at first contact (Stephen Colbert in a well-pitched turn) with Gallaxhar’s giant robot is mindblowing, from the missile trails to the lined-up soldiers. Co-directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman have a number of scenes clearly designed to work well in 3D and it’s a clever move. What might otherwise have been well-meaning but a bit ordinary ends up quite extraordinary and has a great heart. 7/10