‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ in 3-D a fun visual feast for everyone

  • By Robert Horton, Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:50pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

A cute little idea pumped up by the latest digital technology, “Monsters vs. Aliens” delivers what it promises. Despite the fearsome suggestion of its title, there’s never any doubt whom we’re rooting for in this galactic battle: monsters all the way.

Not unlike the recent “Race to Witch Mountain,” this 3-D animated comedy suggests that the government has always known about monsters and aliens, but has kept them secret. A group of monsters is kept imprisoned in an undisclosed location.

These include the brainy Dr. Cockroach (voiced by Hugh Laurie), whose cross-species status is the result of an experiment much like the one in “The Fly”; Missing Link (Will Arnett), who looks a lot like a certain Creature from a Black Lagoon; B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a blobby mass of indestructible goo; and Insectosaurus, a giant moth.

New to their ranks is a once-normal suburban woman named Susan (Reese Witherspoon) who was conked by a meteor on her wedding day and grew to amazing colossal size. Dubbed, understandably, Ginormica, she is the most reluctant of the monster crew.

They’re pressed into service by General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) at the behest of the president (Stephen Colbert) to defend the planet against alien invasion.

The result of this nifty premise is a wildly uneven movie — sometimes really funny and clever, sometimes just random action.

It’s the latest from DreamWorks Animation, the studio that made the pop-culture savvy “Shrek” pictures and the painfully in-jokey “Shark Tale.” This one is less frantic than those movies, which is good, and it creates some genuinely likable characters, especially the bewildered Ginormica, who would really prefer to be called Susan.

There are wrong-headed jokes, such as the president’s initial attempt to communicate with the alien spacecraft via music (the notes are from DreamWorks founder Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters,” followed by a riff on the music from “Beverly Hills Cop,” for no apparent reason).

The 3-D effects are fun without being overwhelming, with an initial joke involving a paddle ball that goes straight back to an egregious sequence in 1953’s “House of Wax,” one of the first 3-D movies.

And although the practice of casting famous movie stars in cartoon roles still strikes me as overkill, in this case the celebrity voices are unusually good, especially Witherspoon.

Kids will love B.O.B., and the “Simpsons”-style references will keep baby boomers amused. There’s a lesson here: An attack by a 50-foot woman is sure-fire entertainment.

Talk to us

More in Life

The 2023 Infiniti QX80 has standard rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive available on all models. (Infiniti)
2023 Infiniti QX80 is powerful and posh

A mighty V8 engine does the work while a luxurious interior provides the pleasure.

Artist Michelle Downes prepares to work on a few canvases in her garage workspace on Thursday, July 6, 2023, at her family’s home in Stanwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Stanwood artist Michelle Downes creates layered dreamscapes in resin

Resin is one part chemistry and one part artistry. Downes combines the two to make art that captures the imagination.

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

Most Read