Because It’s Inevitable
Let’s just get this out of the way now: This movie is not The Incredibles. For a few reasons.
First, it’s not as good. Plain and simple. Brad Bird works some kind of special magic, and it’s on full display in the Incredibles.
Second, the mythos is completely different. Whereas the Incredibles finds itself in an incredibly dense, intertwined, mythology with other unseen superheroes (all of which are featured on the DVD, along with some pretty bitchin’ easter eggs), Megamind exists as an isolated incident in one city. It seems as if the Incredibles got their idea from the Marvel idea of intertwined superheroes and Megamind originated from the DC Universe of only-sometimes-but-usually-not intertwined superhero tales. Nate Ochoa over at “Nate the Great Boy Genius” could probably explain the whole thing. Just put beer in him.
Third, it’s Dreamworks for Christ’s sake. I have yet to see one of their movies that made me really, truly, care about the characters. I understand that Pixar’s way of doing this can be defined as “cheap” (they make us care about something then pull the rug out, especially in Finding Nemo and Up), but at least they have a way of doing this. This film makes us care for the bad guy by going through the psychosis of his childhood–that he was never as great as Metro Man because he could never do right, kept fucking up, then chose to embrace it because he could never be good enough, but he could be bad enough.
Now that That’s Out of the Way…
This movie really misses out on the awe factor. There are no moments that make you nearly ashamed to be caring so much for a character in a “kids” film. Instead, I was mostly following the story beats, figuring how it’s going to work out (a sort of mental way of checking your watch). I was never fully invested in these characters. Maybe there needed to be more at the beginning in the Blaupunkt Quadrant. I don’t know. I just know that I never felt a deep connection to these characters.
And let’s not start with the bullshit about the fact that Megamind is blue and Metro Man is a goddamn superhero. I don’t want to hear it. I connected with a fucking sentient vacuum in Wall-E, a toaster in the Brave Little Toaster, and the evil house in Monster House. I don’t want to hear the excuse that non-humans can’t be connected with.
It just takes slick storytelling work that is completely absent here. They tried real hard with the childhood segment, but it just didn’t click. It was all rote storytelling about the bad childhood that turns him into an evil person.
I’ve never been a big fan of Dreamworks Animations’ way of doing business. They seem stuck on the idea that animation is a kids’ game–that all their movies have to be overtly aimed at children to succeed. This trend seems to be diminishing between the ending of How to Train Your Dragon (their only real triumph) and this film.
They’re trying, that’s for damn sure. The farther they get away from churning out Shrek films, the better they’ll get.
Megamind, in particular, had some pretty stellar, cinematic moments. The ones that are told in the eyes and without words. This is something that is rarely seen in kids film, not just animation. Here, though, they don’t seem to shy away from allowing moments to speak for themselves.
Is the 3D worth your extra hour of pay?
It’s iffy. There’ve been only two movies where I felt the 3d actually added to the story/lack thereof: Up and Jackass 3D. With Up, the added level of depth perception helped to show the absolute perils that occurred toward the end of the film. Jackass 3D, well, that’s because I’m sick like that.
This movie uses 3D mostly for the “wow” effect of having shit fly out at you. It’s not used to make anything seem bigger or more cinematic. Which is disappointing, because they had a real chance to do that with the amount of action there is in the film.
It’s well lit, it’s not a detractor in any way, it’s just kind of there.
Where X Fails, at least there’s Y.
The battle scenes in this film are insane–completely unhindered by the constraints of a live action film. But the 3D could’ve added so much more to it when, instead, it was just kind of there, not really helping or hindering anything.
The action scenes in this film rival anything I’ve ever seen, even if they weren’t 3d-ified enough. I love it when I can watch a lot of shit blow up–and I love that they really focused their processing power on making giant fight scenes. Where the story lacked, the action scenes made up for it. I was constantly in awe of what they were doing to Metro City.
And maybe this whole movie is worth it just for that.