Megamind

Megamind

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Grant

There are those who feel that 2010 didn’t need a second animated feature about a supervillain who learns that being good can be just as rewarding as evil, and the relative lack of critical enthusiasm (and poor showing at the box office) for the consistently funny Megamind reveals that it would have perhaps been wise for Dreamworks to sit on this one for a while.

More tongue-in-cheek and less cutesy than the summer hit Despicable Me, Megamind features the voice of Will Ferrell as the blue-skinned brainiac who arrived on earth as a baby, sent by his parents moments before his home planet disappeared into a black hole. The nod to the Superman legend is intentional, for arriving at the same time as Megamind is another extraterrestrial boy, the devilishly handsome do-gooder who becomes Metro Man (Brad Pitt), savior of the unnamed metropolis.

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Unable to fit in as a child, and lacking the charm, charisma and looks of his future nemesis, Megamind realises that he’s best at being evil, thereby establishing a power struggle between him and Metro Man that will carry on for decades. Repeated kidnappings of reporter Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) always end with good triumphing over evil, but what would happen if that wasn’t the case? What good is a supervillain without a superhero? Evil in the absence of good is at the heart of the film, and though its approach to the subject is geared towards the younger set, Megamind’s developmental path is less about following a cookie-cutter moral compass than it is about good old-fashioned character development.

Whereas many kids films feel the need to liberally season themselves with pop-culture references or other postmodern nods to keep the adults interested, Megamind avoids this for the most part (save for a brilliant spoof of Marlon Brando’s Jor-El) and there’s a hint of emotional complexity to it that’s rare in today’s big-budget 3D animated spectacles. That’s not to say it’s lacking in action-packed set pieces, but director Tom McGrath leaves ample breathing room for more traditional storytelling. Much like Fantastic Mr. Fox, the performances are far more than just voices attached to animated characters, and the strengths of Ferrell, Fey and Pitt are put to good use. Even the close-to-being-overexposed Jonah Hill turns in a restrained but funny performance as the unlikely surrogate hero, Titan.

Though it lacks the broad appeal of a Pixar film, Megamind is easily one of DreamWorks Animation’s strongest efforts to date, and that it got stuck playing second fiddle to the funny-but-not-as-good Despicable Me is something that only time will correct.

Reviewed on: 05 Jan 2011
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Megamind packshot
In order to restore the balance of good vs evil, a genius supervillain is forced to create a formidable foe.
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Director: Tom McGrath

Writer: Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons

Starring: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tine Fey, Jonah Hill

Year: 2010

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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