Tom McGrath's Megamind
Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:
"Megamind" is a surprisingly pleasant animated film that at first seems like it's going to go the same clichéd route as so many other superhero films before it. However, what makes it a "surprise" is that it merely makes you think it's going to go that same route before throwing in some interesting twists to make the story much more satisfying, and thus turning it into a fun and entertaining spectacle.
It takes place in a town called Metro City where there is constant battle between the local superhero, Metro Man (Voice of Brad Pitt), and an evil supervillain, Megamind (Voice of Will Ferrell). As part of his latest attempt to take over the city, he kidnaps the same woman he always does, a reporter named Roxanne (Voice of Tina Fey). Megamind, accompanied by his faithful henchman Minion (Voice of David Cross), is able to fool Metro Man into getting caught in a trap that results in his death.
Megamind is completely surprised that one of his plans worked for once, and after strutting through the city and enjoying the spoils of his victory, he doesn't quite know what to do with himself now that his archenemy is gone. Realizing that there's not much point to being evil without someone trying to stop him, he takes it upon himself to create a new hero, someone to put the challenge back in his evil life, and so he begins his search for a candidate that will prove a worthy successor to Metro Man.
There are a couple of things that make "Megamind" work for the most part. First is the story and the interesting twists it contains. There is a love story between Megamind and Roxanne at the center of the film that strangely works amidst all the chaos of good vs. evil. Would anyone stop to think that the reason he kidnaps Roxanne so many times is not only to get at his nemesis, but also because he actually has a thing for her?
This is explored in a fascinating way. Megamind obviously wouldn't be able to maintain a solid relationship with Roxanne if she knew who he was, so he uses a device to disguise himself, and in this way, he gets to know her on more personal terms. They even have an apt discussion over dinner of how a book shouldn't be judged by its cover, and how actions are a better judge of character, which, for Megamind, would obviously present a bit of a problem
I don't want to go too far into the story for fear of giving away the twists, so I'll just say that there are some interesting role reversals that arise, leading to unexpected changes of hearts and alliances that you wouldn't think would occur. These developments are actually what save the film from becoming just another forgettable entry in the superhero genre.
The other thing that makes the film work is the voice talent of Will Ferrell. The way he delivers certain lines in this film almost makes you forget about some of the terrible work he's done recently. There's a cute running gag throughout the film where his character mispronounces words which Ferrell seems to have fun with, and when the script calls for it, he is even able to bring out the emotional side of the character quite convincingly.
In a lot of ways, this film reminded me of the recent (and I would have to say better) "Despicable Me," another animated film that also explored the story from the viewpoint of the villain while also showing us that they have feelings underneath their rough exteriors. "Megamind" may not be quite as good as other recent animated films like that or "How To Train Your Dragon," but it has splendid visuals, a good story, and enough witty dialogue to turn it into an enjoyable experience that's worth checking out. 3/4 stars.
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