Hey, you know what kids like? Complex morality tales about destiny and the ying and yang of good and evil. And how love is the true motivation to do good, and that one day, half-way through your life, you may reverse your career decision and that will be okay because nature will balance whatever vacuum you created. Wait… what? Kids don’t like that?
Hey, you know what kids like? Complex morality tales about destiny and the ying and yang of good and evil. And how love is the true motivation to do good, and that one day, half-way through your life, you may reverse your career decision and that will be okay because nature will balance whatever vacuum you created.
Wait… what? Kids don’t like that? Someone should have told to the makers of this thing. While it is refreshing to see an animated feature with heady ideas it is not so great when all those ideas have to be laboriously set up for a final act payoff, while some kid is kicking the back of my seat waiting for the fun stuff.
And as I turn around to patiently explain the nuances of character arcs to this young place kicker I am reminded, with nasty stares, that I should not have to add this extra info for the movie to work on the level for this ill mannered youth. These character growth/feelings-developing moments drag down the thing so much that action sequences seem almost out of place. And so what is unique is that it is a thoughtful animated feature that will bore your kids, if not yourself.
It also doesn’t help when you got Guillermo Del Toro as a creative consultant. Kids everywhere loved Pan’s Labyrinth’s metaphoric exploration of Spanish fascism through a child’s dark imagination into the underworld of the psyche. So it just make sense to ask him how to slow down this train as well.
Here are a few problems. OK, a few MORE:
ONE – voices. Will Ferrell is losing that energy in his voice that sells the rest of his man/child act. So as the lead, it is almost that he is miscast as the evil genius who has a mid-life crisis. Brad Pitt voice is shockingly generic, and the realization dawns on you that you don’t really know what he sounds like, maybe because he is a ‘looker’. Jonah Hill is the only one with the range and his stuff brings the snap that we are use to, but he has a limited amount of screen time so it is not enough to keep things lively. Tina Fey’s nerdy girl works better live than when she is drawn like a size zero hottie.
TWO – action. Waiting around for all the characters to come to some understanding about who they are and what they are feeling you assume that you are going to be blown away by grand set pieces of action and destruction, right? Not really. Even with 3D to try and make crap come at you it still feels less than. In fact , some of it looks like such grab for 3D attention that it stands out like the paddle ball scene in Vincent Price’s 3D House of Wax.
Most importantly, THREE – logline. If the movie logline that doesn’t make you want to see it, then there is trouble. Here is how IMDB puts it:
“After super-villain Megamind (Ferrell) kills his good-guy nemesis, Metro Man (Pitt), he becomes bored since there is no one left to fight. He creates a new foe, Titan (Hill), who, instead of using his powers for good, sets out to destroy the world, positioning Megamind to save the day for the first time in his life.”
Dear LORD! Trouble can be spotted when you see your lead “kills”, “becomes bored” “creates foe” and “positioning … to save the day” That is really an uphill climb, and if the script is not HILARIOUS joke heavy and clipping along at a gallop, then none of this will fly.
There is a lot of work that goes into animated features, more so than live action, because with live action you can capture moments both planned (i.e. scripted) and unplanned (i.e. improvised) . With animation, the voice is the only place where those moments can live, and the animators work to express what they are hearing in the voice. But if all of that rests on a script, and your story is a tough one to get across, then you are going to want to get Robin Williams back on cocaine and “leave a lung on the glass”, as they say in the voice over world.
But hooray for the makers of this thing stretching the boundaries of animated features and swinging for the fences. Too bad you had such a heavy ball.
—Dean Haglund, the only CFN writer who is selling trading cards with a lock of his hair in them. OK, the only CFN writer doing that SO FAR.