When Toy Story first burst onto the screen we witnessed a whole new wave of film making. Pixar followed up with further crowd and critic pleasing films, as other studios struggled to catch up.
We are now entering a more mature phase, not only do all animated films now look superb, voice characterizations are usually spot on, with the added benefit of “A” list talent. Now even non Pixar film have actually expended time and thought on the most important effect of all, a decent story.
We have come a long way since the rather weak “Sharks Tale”.
Supervillan “Megamind” (Will Ferell) is matched against his nemesis “Metro Man” (Brad Pitt) in a opening pastiche of early superman movies.
Crashing to earth from two destroyed planets, the two are raised in very different environments, Megamind succumbing to his nascent dark side whilst Metroman evolving into the squeaky clean, goody two shoes protector of Metro city. All white outfits, flowing locks and patting babies on the head whilst saving the world, again.
So far so good, classic animated cartoon mega battles to save Roxanne (Tina Fey) who is almost perpetually being captured by the evil Megamind, only to be rescued in the nick of time by Metroman. Reset and repeat as required. Even Roxanne is bored with the whole proceedings, as it interferes with her job of reporting the very events in which she plays a central part.
Not content with providing solid animated superhero fun, the plot then completely inverts itself by seemingly destroying the very dynamic it has so comprehensively created.
If there is no one to fight or to stop you when you are bad, what’s the point. If you can steal all you like, do anything you want, with no responsibility whatsoever, what is there left to get out of bed for?
You could of course read into this dilemma all sorts of deeper adult themes and the story does hint at this but clearly something must be done, as we have an hour of screen time left.
Megamind decides to create another “good” superhero to spa against, cue “Titan”, the spectacularly socially inept and slightly sleazy cameraman (Jonah Hill). When this does not go according to plan, this spins the story in another direction. If good goes bad and you want to stop it, does that mean you are becoming “good”?
The story messes with convention and is a delight to follow but whilst this provides a solid framework for the action to occur in, we are certainly not short of spectacle. Megamind is a joy to watch and his interactions with his bizarre minion, a fish swimming in a goldfish bowl atop a robot gorilla body, called rather ingeniously and helpfully, “minion” (David Cross), are a delight.
Ferrell gives it his all, crazy one moment, showing real pathos the next, all wrapped up in a pseudo Bond supervillan, Brando inspired, very confused cartoon hero.
Fey is feisty and sarcastic, the very archetypal sassy reporter she is portraying. Minion and Megamind get the best lines with Pitt mainly acting as the thankless straight man.
There is nothing really to fault here, sound, animation, voice acting are all excellent but the point of difference here is the plot, it’s new, subversive and leaves a satisfying grin on your face.
What more could you ask for?
Further evidence that computer animated films have come of age. Exciting, funny, intelligent and enough depth for adults yet still containing thrills and spills for the younger audience.