Friday, April 17, 2009

An Animated Stream of Consciousness

Monsters vs. Aliens is a thoroughly enjoyable bit of escapism. It may not have a lot of deeper meaning (the self-empowerment story of Susan is endearing but hardly novel), but it is entertaining and would probably rank respectably in the list of animated movies you find yourself re-watching a few times. It also triggers a fun stream of “connective-ness” that intuitive types (see Myers Briggs) love to play with.

Monsters is the first computer animated movie to be made in 3D (as opposed to converted.) This is thematically appropriate, as it harkens back to all the sci-fi themed horror movies of the 50s, when 3D movies were all the rage. One of the monsters, “The Missing Link,” is based on The Creature From the Black Lagoon, which was one of the most successful 3D movies ever made. (The other characters based on 50s movies: Gigantica, from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman; BOB, from The Blob; Insectosaurus, from Mothra and other Godzilla type movies; Dr. Cockroach, from The Fly and other mad scientist movies; and Gallaxhar, from every alien invasion movie of the 50s and 60s.)

Monsters is also an interesting chapter in the DreamWorks vs. Pixar saga. Ever since Disney handed the Animation title over to Pixar in the 1990s, DreamWorks has been vying to claim the number one animation studio spot. It has at times threatened to produce a better movie, but its string of productions has had a lot of stinkers as well. For every Shrek or Kung Fu Panda, they have several lack-luster stories. (Bee Movie, anyone?) Pixar on the other hand, has failed to make one terrible movie. Monsters vs. Aliens is the most “Pixar-ish” film DreamWorks has yet to produce.

One wonders if the 3D move will place this movie among other important landmark films (Snow White, 101 Dalmatians, Little Mermaid, and Toy Story) that each set a new standard for the industry and led the way for bigger and better movies for the format.

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