The Way of the Word

3. November 2010

Review: Megamind

USA 2010. Directed by Tom McGrath. Starring Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill. Runtime: 96 Minutes

The rivalry of Megamind (Will Ferrell), the coolest villain ever to torment Metro City, and his annoying arch-nemesis, the goody-two-shoes Metro Man (Brad Pitt) has lasted since their childhoods. Now Megamind has the perfect plan to defeat Metro Man: he kidnaps Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) — again — and tricks Metro Man into thinking that they are in the old observatory outside the city. Metro Man walks right into Megamind’s trap, Megamind unleashes his death ray — and succeeds in killing Metro Man.

Unexpectedly.

Now Megamind is King of Metro City, master of all he surveys. And it bores him to tears.  He misses the fights against Metro Man. He misses the challenge.

What’s a supervillain to do?

Why, create a new superhero, of course. Using a sample of Metro Man’s DNA, Megamind creates a process that can bestow Metro Man’s superpowers on an ordinary human. By accident, it’s Roxanne’s cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill) who gets the powers. Megamind trains Jonah to be the hero Megamind wants to fight. As it turns out, however, Hal (now Tighten) is far too selfish, and becomes the world’s greatest villain. Now Megamind is forced to become a hero and save Metro City.

I’m somewhat ambivalent about Megamind. The animation is top-notch, and the in-your-face “look, it’s 3D!” effects aren’t very annoying. (Actually, Megamind is another example for why 3D should be restricted to animated movies. They at least get it right.) The movie is funny, and Megamind’s journey from villain to hero is quite believable. He’s also a lovable kind of villain: throughout the story, he is shown as not evil, just juvenile. If you accept that, the premise of his evolution makes perfect sense. (It also explains the really annoying habit this movie has: Megamind’s minion carries a ghetto blaster and plays a kind of soundtrack for its master. Among others, Highway to Hell and Bad. To which Megamind dances. Like a teenager would.)

Megamind also provides some metatextual commentary on the superhero genre. The title character is an old-school villain. Death rays, giant robots, elaborate traps and schemes. He engages the hero, loses, and is sent to prison, from where he escapes to try again. Part of his character evolution comes when he realizes that Tighten doesn’t play by the old rules.

If you’re familiar with the superhero tropes, Megamind offers nothing original. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s exciting and for once the 3D actually helps the movie instead of just looking silly. The characters are believable, and very very likable. I can’t imagine anyone not liking Minion, for example. (Seriously: if you liked Despicable Me‘s minions, you’ll love Minion and the Brain Bots.) The movie is charming, the production values are first rate. It’s definitely worth your time and money.

It’s just… Don’t go in expecting the next Incredibles. Megamind falls a bit short of that benchmark.

Verdict: recommended

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