With How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 already staking their claims for Best Animation of 2010 (and indeed the latter may even have a shot at the Oscar's Best Picture), Dreamworks' Megamind seemed destined to become lost alongside the vast shuffle of subpar films that followed. The debut trailer didn't exactly instill me with confidence - it very much looked to be the culmination of everything trite, mediocre, and uninspired about CG films. Classic Dreamworks, in other words. I steeled myself for the inevitable letdown.
Against all conceivable odds, not only did Megamind end up NOT sucking, but it actually turned out to be a really enjoyable watch. The film is a fun, lively take on the superhero genre, as told through the eyes of the supervillain. Recall my moderate disappointment with Despicable Me, a similarly penned story about a bad guy with the potential to do good. The idea never quite took off in that movie, but thankfully, Megamind embraces it to a much higher degree of success. There are elements drawn from the likes of Superman and The Incredibles as well, with an especially keen emphasis on the former. A strong existential theme lies at the heart of the story, yet it never gets so heavy as to weigh down the proceedings. There's also a dash of romance, and some neat plot twists thrown in for good measure. (On that last note, the less you know going into the film, the better. Avoid the subsequent trailers after the debut one, as they reveal way too much.)
While the visuals and environments are aesthetically pleasing, the style of the characters are less so. They're far from objectionable, but they've only got their heads barely above generic waters. One gets the feeling that Dreamworks must have some sort of handbook or guidelines for their character designs, and everybody in the company must slavishly follow them to the tee. There's also some slapstick that borders a bit too much on hyperactive at times - which has the odd counter effect of accentuating the quieter, more introspective moments. Despite the mundane look of the characters, there are hints of animated brilliance in their performances when things are dialed down.
The movie's a strange beast when it comes to its portrayal of pop culture. Save for the Superman bits, which is more goodhearted satire than anything else, there isn't a whole lot of it. It's more about the attitude and overall feel of the film; nothing is ever specifically referenced, but the way the characters move and speak is very contemporary. The music is also a contributing factor. Aside from a decent orchestral effort by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, the soundtrack is laden with 80s hard rock metal from the likes of George Thorogood, AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne. Bad to the Bone, Highway to Hell, and Crazy Train are all prominently featured, with Guns 'N Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" making for a rousing last confrontation scene.
There are some movies you never want sequels for; I would've remained content had the Terminator series ended with part 2, for instance. And then there are movies that are inevitably getting sequels, like How To Train Your Dragon and Kick-Ass, and all you can do is hope for the best. I believe Megamind, like 2009's Star Trek, is one of those rare cases where a sequel would be very much desired. Its superhero world and premise are ripe for further stories and adventures - provided, of course, they can pull together the same dynamic efforts that they've managed here.
Dreamworks is two for three this year. It's too bad Shrek Forever After didn't fare nearly as well.
Last edited by Angela (Dec 28, 2010)