We went to see the latest Dreamworks film, Megamind, the other day. I wasn't expecting much, the super hero genre seems to have gotten surprisingly hard to parody of late, or to provide much of a new take on (although Pixar's "The Incredibles" did a fantastic job of just that) but was pleasantly surprised. While it didn't particularly cover any new ground, it did provide a few genuine laughs, and was worth the cost of admission.
Will Ferrell voices the title character, an evil alien genius bent on ruling Metro City. Well, kind of evil anyway, in about the same way that Stephen Colbert is Conservative. Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill help round out the celebrity end of the cast.
Things get interesting for Megamind when he finally succeeds in defeating his arch rival, Metro Man, the Superman knockoff who protects Metro City. Having reached his only actual goal in life, ennui sets in, and then he decides he needs a replacement archenemy. Things don't go quite as well as he planned and the expected hilarity ensues.
There's some unexpectedly insightful stuff to be found in Megamind on the effects of bullying and isolation, the pursuit of goals, good and evil and Man's quest for happiness, as well as a number of zingers that hit right on target. Megamind's supervillain is one who understands the game, and treats the fight for the city as a high-tech match of pro wrestling. "Do you know the difference between a villain and a supervillain?" he asks at one point, "presentation!" (cue lasers, smoke and Guns n' Roses music from on high).
Much of the violence is pretty cartoony, but at some point it gets a bit more serious, and probably a little less comfortable for young kids (my ten-year-old was fine, but things do suddenly get a bit darker as the new villain on the scene refuses to play by the rules and actually starts trying to kill people. It never gets bloody, but it can be a bit intense for sensitive young'uns). There is surprisingly little sexual innuendo for a movie involving Will Ferrell and Jonah Hill, overall it tends more towards goofy than crude.
I didn't get to see it in 3-D, so I can't speak for that format, but the animation quality is high, and the action scenes contain a lot of fun mass destruction. It doesn't achieve the level of How to Train Your Dragon's amazing flight sequences, but it'll do. I'd give it a "three out of five" as a movie that, while probably not destined to be a timeless classic, is a fun way to pass a rainy afternoon.