The unimaginative Monsters vs. Aliens clearly ain#039;t no Pixar film

by Beacon Staff • April 1, 2009

iMonsters vs. Aliens/i is the latest blockbuster spectacle to abuse the ever-trendy 3D technology in an effort to lure audiences into thinking they're in for a special treat.

Dreamworks Animation's new film, directed by Rob Letterman (iShark Tale/i) and Conrad Vernon (iShrek 2/i), is packaged for success with an impressive cast-Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Paul Rudd, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert and Rainn Wilson, among others-and a flashy premise about monsters saving the world from aliens.

Beyond that, however, the movie does little else to try and win audiences over, and the result is nothing but aimless silliness.

iMonsters vs. Aliens/i tells the story of a generic woman named Susan Murphy (Witherspoon), who is struck by a meteorite from outer space on her wedding day. After somehow surviving the crash, she begins to grow to a massive size. The government classifies her as a monster, captures her and contains her in a top secret location full of other incarcerated creatures.

It is abundantly clear from the opening scene, with Susan talking to her weatherman fianceacute; about his selfish career plans, that this film isn't going to be showing us anything special.

Susan is a sketch of a character: pretty, young and from California, but besides these expository facts, she remains a mystery.

What made iThe Incredibles/i so entertaining was the originality of the characters and the filmmakers' fearlessness in taking the necessary time to fully develop them.

The creative team behind iMonsters vs. Aliens/i seems to have been far more concerned with getting to the special effects and lucrative plot details than with any character development.

The choice to have a female at the center of the story was a good one, but the casting of vanilla Witherspoon was futile. To make this movie memorable, someone with a more distinct voice and personality was needed, along with a script that has the capacity for depth.

At the mysterious facility, we meet B.O.B. (Rogen), an indestructible large blue blob with one eye and no brain; Dr. Cockroach (Laurie), a half-man, half-roach mad scientist who is essentially a kid-friendly version of The Fly; The Missing Link (Arnett), a prehistoric fish-man that winks at evolution, and the voiceless, 300-foot tall Insectosaurus.

It is never explained why we only meet these four mutants, but judging by the enormous facility they were stored in, there are probably plenty that would have been a little more interesting. It's strange that a movie with such a broad, epic title as iMonsters vs. Aliens/i is about a small, ragtag gang of weirdos.

As it turns out, Susan has been contaminated with a tremendously powerful substance called Quantonium, which, as it turns out, is just what evil alien Gallaxhar (Wilson) wants for himself.

When Gallaxhar wreaks havoc on San Francisco with a giant robot, the government sends the monsters to defeat it. The plot becomes irrelevant.

While thankfully the film isn't littered with the gimmicky pop culture references that plague many recent animated features, iMonsters vs. Aliens/i is fundamentally confused.

There are many attempts at comedy, but very few moments elicit more than a smile; the action-adventure isn't anything we haven't seen before, and the creators never fully commit to creating true suspense or sustained thrills.

The bland set-up of the whole picture flattens the energy for the rest of the film, so it's hard to get excited when nothing seems to matter or make sense. Until the producers and writers behind these splashy animated blockbusters can take a hint from Pixar, they will be wasting their time, money and talent on films like this that will be forgotten within a year.