Review of Megamind

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Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill all voice characters for this animated comedy, which is sprinkled with pop culture references and golden-oldie music. Set in the fictional Metro City, a supervillain named Megamind (Ferrell) and a superhero named Metro Man (Pitt) battle over a cute TV reporter named Roxanne (Tina Fey). Then, one day, Metro Man is apparently killed. That's when Megamind tries to transform a schlubby TV cameraman (Hill) into a new superhero.
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Movie Review: "Megamind"

-- Rating: PG (action, some language)
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: November 5, 2010
Directed by: Tom McGrath
Genre: Animation/Action/Comedy

"Megamind" is a rare comedy that features a villain who the audience truly wants to root for, in this case the titular character. It isn't easy to pull off a successful antihero character, but the film does it well and with lots of laughs.

Megamind (Will Ferrell) is a victim of circumstance when growing up, so he is a villain through no fault of his own. He was born on a faraway planet, where he and his soon-to-be nemesis, Metro Man (Brad Pitt), were each placed in separate rocket ships at a young age. It is believed that both of their fates are on planet Earth, so that's where the rockets head. Metro Man has the great fortune of landing in Metro City, where a very rich, warm-hearted couple finds and raises him. Megamind lands in a prison, where he is taken in by hardened criminals.

When Megamind finds out about the disparity between their upbringings, he becomes insanely jealous. Metro Man is all good looks and amiable personality, while Megamind is big-headed and blue-skinned. Where Metro Man is popular, Megamind is picked on. He comes to the conclusion that if people don't like him and he is picked on, he might as well be bad so they have a reason not to like him. This is obviously the wrong conclusion, but for someone as unfortunate as himself, it does make sense to see things that way.

While Megamind is plotting his revenge on Metro Man, Metro City, and the inhabitants, he does have a little fun with the media. Local reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) finds out about these two super-powered alien beings and conducts interviews with both of them. Roxanne is beautiful, smart, and funny, just what both Metro Man and Megamind are looking for in a woman. As it turns out, her cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill) also has a huge, unrequited crush on Roxanne.

The battle with Metro Man over Roxanne's heart is the final straw for Megamind, who begins to hatch his plan of revenge. He kidnaps Roxanne, which forces Metro Man to have to rescue her. This scenario happens more than once, with Metro Man successfully rescuing Roxanne each time, much to Megamind's chagrin. Megamind's plan is to kill Metro Man when he comes to rescue Roxanne, but he fails miserably until one day, he lucks out.

With Metro Man no more, Megamind becomes bored and decides to create a new superhero to fight using faithful cameraman Hal as his guinea pig. He just happens to have some of Metro Man's DNA, which he injects into Hal, creating Tritan. Unfortunately, Tritan is not up to snuff, setting the stage for Megamind's inevitable conversion from villain to hero.

"Megamind" comes across as an animated homage to another comic book hero, Superman. There are a lot of parallels, not the least of which is the fact that Megamind and Metro Man came from another planet, just like Superman comes from Krypton. In both cases, youngsters were launched to Earth and raised by humans. Roxanne is a viable stand-in for Lois Lane, while Hal (before he becomes Tritan) is a more anemic version of Jimmy Olsen.

Ferrell is an inspired choice to voice Megamind. His trademark way of mispronouncing words for laughs is on full display here, as his character can't say "Metro City" properly. He manages to subdue the maniacal aspect of some of his past characters to give a more subdued performance here. It works to a great effect without sacrificing any laughs.

Fey also does an excellent job as the plucky reporter Roxanne. It is easy to see why three different men spend the entirety of the movie pining for her. Writers Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons could have easily made her fall for Metro Man, much like Lois Lane fell for Superman. They decided to put a twist on this usual superhero trope, so Roxanne ends up falling for nobody. It's a refreshing way to change things up and stray a bit from the "Superman" homage.

"Megamind" also shows that 3D is well suited to animated movies. A few scenes really come alive with the use of 3D technology, particularly one scene where it is pouring rain outside. Director Tom McGrath obviously has a good eye for what works with this special technology and what doesn't. If a sequel to "Megamind" is made, DreamWorks would do well to hire him to take the helm once more, since this film is both a visual beauty and comic wonder.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars