It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!
MPAA Rating: PG
Genre: Animated, Super Hero, Action
Starring: The Voices of: Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, David Cross, Brad Pitt
Director: Tom McGrath
Writer: Alan Schoolcraft, Brent Simons
Budget: $130 Million
Box Office: $322 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%
And now for something completely different, okay, maybe not utterly different, and along the same vein of what I normally review, but hey, look, it’s not live action! Maybe I should have started the animated department with Shrek, or Disney’s Robin Hood. But hey, we’ll get there! Sorry, this movie has left me in a little bit of a bombastic mood. It is about presentation after all.
After his parents put him in a pod and help him escape from their dying home planet, the blue alien baby ends up on Earth in Metro City. But, it turns out his parents weren’t the only ones with the same plan. Another baby, who can pass for human, also leaves his neighboring also dying planet at the same time. This baby ends up in the home of wealthy parents, and Megamind (Ferrell) ends up in the Metro City Prison. Raised by criminals, and somehow ending up going to the same school as the other boy. Constantly upstaged, Megamind soon feels he can do nothing good or right. And if he can’t do anything good or right, then he might as well be bad. And so a rivalry is born between Megamind and the other alien boy who calls himself Metro Man (Pitt), complete with a constant damsel in distress, Roxie (Fey), the local news reporter. At the unveiling of the new Metro Man Museum, Megamind with the help of Minion (Cross) kidnaps Roxie again and finally manages to do away with Metro Man. Megamind gets everything he wants, but soon finds it isn’t as fun without someone to go up against. What is a villain to do when there isn’t a hero to stop him? Well, an inadvertent suggestion from Roxie while Megamind is in disguise provides his solution. Megamind will create a new hero, Titan (Hill). But when Titan goes bad, will Megamind be able to out villain this new villain and won’t that actually make him the hero.
Let’s do a quick talk of the numbers here, boring numbers. This movie was a rough split down the middle. It made half the money in the states and the other half of the box office money overseas. So, while it didn’t quite make three times it’s original production budget, without higher domestic box office numbers, I doubt we’ll see a sequel. Which is too bad. There was a certain flamboyancy and lightheartedness to this movie and was the sort of satire and parody I can get behind. It would be interesting to see how a Megamind sequel would do now, especially with all the more ‘serious’ superhero movies in box offices.
So, this is what happens when you take Superman add a techno villain style Martian Manhunter and just turn the whole story on it’s head. And it ends up being super fun. In most comic style stories of super heroes and good versus evil, good wins and we’re head off into the happily ever after. This is a look at what happens when evil wins with a side of, was evil ever really evil in the first place, or like a naughty child, was Megamind just looking for attention anyway he could get it? And it was easier to get attention when he was being ‘bad’ versus when he was being ‘good.’ There’s something to be said about positive reinforcement in here, somewhere.
For Megamind, this is both a story of redemption and story of discovery. Since, he’s spent so much time playing to the image of a super villain, Megamind knows very little about himself and what he truly wants. Indeed, the basics of human social interaction are a complete mystery to him despite being “raised” by humans, even though they were criminals. To him, the Metro City Prison is more home than any evil lair or house. It isn’t until he doesn’t have to constantly parade this image before the people and he tires of this image, that he truly thinks about who he is and what he wants.
Perhaps, the biggest weakness of this plot is that this is just the comic book/super hero parody trappings of the fantasy skewering we had in Shrek. Main character is the “bad guy.” Who goes on a journey of self discovery with his buddy and ends up falling in love with the girl. After a series of mishaps and bad communication, the “bad guy” goes back to his “home” to sulk before he is forced out in the last minute to become the “hero” and rescue the girl. Thus, no longer the “bad guy” and now the “good guy.” Megamind takes a bigger hand in his almost destruction than Shrek does and Minion isn’t as supportive as Donkey is of Megamind getting together with Roxie. (Yes, probably should have started with Shrek first. Oh well.) And as soon as Megamind takes the form of Bernard and befriends Roxies, you know that eventually his lies are going to come back to haunt him. Roxie will not take it well and his protege, Hal, will be enraged by his betrayal.
And as much as I would like to hold this plot to higher standard and take marks off for it’s predictability. I can’t because I have to remember that this was a movie meant for children. The fact that adults are entertained by it is part of animations studios newer marketing ploys to get the whole family to come and watch the movie, thus selling more tickets. What the plot sets out to do, it does well, without (mostly) hammering home the messages children (and possibly a lot of adults) should take away from this movie.
This plot is supported by the extreme world of a super hero comic, where the citizens are helpless to save themselves and are easily swayed into following a charismatic ‘leader’ even if the leader is shallow. The cops can’t do anything after Metro Man dies and even when it is obvious that Megamind has no true plans after his triumph. The end fight of the movie even takes place in a plot convenient almost deserted Metro City. The name of the city as Megamind pronounces it is even a play on atrocity and mediocrity. Megamind uses the same types of tricks repeatedly. He makes no sudden leaps of technology from that which is shown in the very beginning and the powers of Metro Man and later Hal aka Titan/Tighten remain consistent even as Titan doesn’t know how to use them as well as Metro Man.
In the midst of Hal’s banal evilness and Megamind’s shining theatrics, the real star of the show is Roxie. Roxie, along with Megamind, shows the most character growth over the movie. She goes from a woman who simply reports the news and is a sarcastic pawn of Megamind’s games. To a woman who is going out, trying to solve the problem through peaceful resolution without any super powers of her own and thus, making the news. The analogue to the put upon Lois Lane, while she admires Metro Man for his actions, she is not in love with him and isn’t impressed with Megamind’s predictable schemes. If she could save herself from Megamind’s restraints, it is obvious she would and tell the two of them to get on with it without her. And when it is clear that Metro Man has turned his back on the city and Megamind has given up, she gets up the will to confront Titan/Tighten herself. Without Roxie, Megamind would have had no motivation to change. Roxie ends up being the catalyst for the story. Even when it is Megamind, Metro Man and Titan/Tighten that end up doing all the fighting.
These fights are as overblown as any one who is a fan of comic books could wish. Megamind’s mechanical inventions against the super strength, flight and laser eyes of Metro Man/Tighten. Where Megamind lacks in physical might, he makes up for with strategies and robots to try and even the playing field.
If I have any complaints about this movie, that among the theatrics, the laser light shows and Megamind mispronouncing things, is that there was no true explosion that wasn’t necessary. Minus one cookie.
Megamind is something like candy. Where evil is less than skin deep and incredibly shallow. There is a few woven messages about not bullying, not judging a book by it’s cover and evil being banal and petty that might go over children’s heads in the midst of explosions and laser light shows, but the parents will appreciate seeing. Four gingersnaps.