Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 95 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 – 1080p High Definition
Audio: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish, French and Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, French and Portuguese
Release Date: February 25, 2011
Review Date: February 26, 2011
“Here's my day so far: went to jail, lost the girl of my dreams and got my butt kicked pretty good. Still, things could be a lot worse. Oh, that's right... I'm falling to my death. Guess they can't. How did it all come to this? Well, my end starts at the beginning... The very beginning!”
As a genre, animated films – specifically CGI animated films – have comfortably shuffled into three tiers of quality. The top tier, which remain almost the exclusive domain of Pixar, includes films such as Finding Nemo, Happy Feet, Wall*E, Up and How to Train Your Dragon. The second is the ‘very good’ tier and abounds with terrific films such as Monsters vs. Aliens, Kung Fu Panda, and Despicable Me. The final tier is the purview of the mediocre. It is stocked with disappointing, occasionally likeable, but ultimately missed opportunities. Films like Planet 51, The Battle for Terra, Astro Boy, and Igor are occupants of this tier.
CGI Animated Films, regardless of your general tastes, occupy a favored realm of the annual movie stockpile. Growing in frequency but rarely dulling in popularity, the multiplexes are treated today with a steady stream of warm, funny, technically proficient animated goodness. And that does not look likely to slow down anytime soon. Fortunately, the quality of these animated films remains quite high.
But what tier does Megamind occupy?
The Film: 3.5 out of 5
Following the destruction of their planets, and launched into the universe before winding up on the little blue planet called Earth, two alien beings find themselves becoming rivals, destined to follow paths that would define one as the hero savior of Metro City, and the other as the arch villain. The hero, Metro Man as he is called, is handsome, suave, fawned over by citizens all, and the perpetual winner of all his fights. This is particularly troubling for Megamind, the foe of the city whose dastardly plans to destroy Metro Man and harm the city have always been defeated by the buff and loved superhero. Megamind’s evil plans, carried out with the assistance of his loyal ‘fish in a bowl for a head’ sidekick and aptly named ‘Minion’, frequently involve kidnapping city news reporter Roxanne Ritchie (much to the dismay of her adoring cameraman), who is so familiar with Megamind’s rote travails, that she is now far from a damsel in distress (if she ever were).
Going through the motions of another plan of evil genius – on the day Metro City is dedicating an enormous statue and museum to the cities fair hero - Megamind exacts a vengeful and elaborate evil scheme involving a kidnapped Roxanne and a plan to destroy Metro Man using the power of the sun.
And it works. Metro Man is unable to escape the trap and is destroyed.
No-one is more surprised that Megamind. So now, with Metro Man gone, Megamind has the spoils of the once shining conurbation of Metro City (which he mispronounces as ‘Met-ross-ity’) fully at his disposal. He moves in to City Hall, spray paints buildings and awnings with his name and emblem, ravages the considerable art collection from the cities museums (I guess Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was on loan from the musée du Louvre), and gallivants in showers of stolen loot. But it isn’t enough. Megamind quickly realizes that he is nothing without his superhero foil. Yin is lost without Yang; alpha incomplete without Omega; Moriarty nothing without his Holmes to torment.
Megamind concocts the notion of creating a superhero with whom to do battle once again; to restore the natural order of good versus evil locked in the struggle of battles to and fro (well, more fro, than to). He creates a superhero out of Roxanne’s chubby Camera man, giving the world ‘Titan’; but when Titan enjoys the temptations of power rather than heeding the call for good, Megamind must choose whether he will use his deviously crafted intelligence to become something that he has fought his entire life; a hero.
Megamind enjoys the humorous turnabout of villains and heroes taking sharp detours from their more common paths and comes to life with an all-star cast. The bulbous-brained blue villain is voiced superbly by Will Ferrell, whose knack for voicing his foibles and failures as they occur, works delightfully. He revels in the delight of playing the half-witted, evilly intelligent Megamind and his interplay with Tina Fey’s Roxanne Ritchie, a sharp-tongued, direct, and pert character, provides frequent delight.
Brad Pitt supplies the confident voice of Metro Man, and though his character appears relatively briefly, is quite memorably as he cheeses up to the admiring citizens of the city. David Cross provides a pitch-perfect vocal turn as Minion, an eager, if often amiss servant of Megamind. As the rotund camera man turned superhero/villain is Jonah Hill, who provides a spot-on undiscerning, obtuse and bratty Titan with the right level of dimwitted but likeable followed by dimwitted and unlikable. Rounding out the notable voice cast is J. K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson of Spider-Man) as the warden of the prison where Megamind frequently stays – and breaks out of, and Ben Stiller (who also serves as Executive Producer) as the slight Bernard.
Megamindis a gloriously produced, lavishly entertaining assemblage of parts from other films, particularly The Incredibles. Director Tom McGraff, working from a lighthearted script by Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, takes full advantage of the CGI medium, with the story inhabiting a grand city with a scope and scale that’s impressive – it feels massive at times and achieves a level of destruction in the city that would make Roland Emmerich (director of 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow) quite proud. Fortunately this film is not about how much destruction can be crammed into 95 minutes, but rather how much fun can be had as a (somewhat) reluctant evil genius seeks to restore balance and ultimately redefine himself. The action is wildly entertaining, the humor friendly and frequent, and the experience genuinely a great time.
Megamind finds itself skirting originality but never quite diving all the way in. I considered that family-friendly films– and animated entertainment in particular – must have a hard time deriving truly original ideas that work, but it has and can be done. Just look at the trailers for the upcoming Rango – a visually arresting, darkly entertaining animated film from the creative hand of Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. Some of the characters also echo other films with Jonah Hill’s superhero-cum-villain character being incredibly reminiscent of Syndrome from The Incredibles, both visually and motivationally. Megamind’s borrows, while the product of parody and homage, tend to limit the truly original potential of this story.
Megamindconfidently belongs in the second tier of ‘very good’. It doesn’t quite achieve that level of greatness to place it in the premium tier, but it’s big-chested, warm-hearted, and mammoth amusement worthy of enjoying over and over.
The Video: 3.5 out of 5
The 1080p High Definition transfer of Megamind (MPEG-4 AVC codec), is perhaps the brightest and most colorful animated blu-ray that I have seen in quite a while. The colors are rich, almost luminescent at times, with gorgeous blues, yellows, and silver/greys. Presented in theaters in 3D (and much of the animation designed specifically for 3D), it is a shame that a 3D version is not available for wide-release (it will be available as a Samsung exclusive).
The level of detail in most of the picture is wonderful, and though most textures aren’t seeking anything approaching photorealism, they still achieve a fine level. But all is not well. I first noticed an issue (or rather, had a gut-feeling confirmed) during a scene where Megamind is standing against a backdrop of the city. For most of the film up to that point, I was pleased with the depth of image, but this scene appeared to shimmer and not feel as native to the scene. Soon I was noticing aliasing issues and these jagged edges appeared in a number of scenes. Other reviewers mention issues on building faces. The resulting mix of gloriously bright and lovely scenes with noticeable aliasing is a bit of a quandary. While I was perfectly able to enjoy the film – actually get caught up in the fun of the story and the cleanliness of the animation, I was aware that this would be an issue for many HTF readers.
In short, the image for the most part looks great, but has issues that may warrant some caution.
The Sound: 5 out of 5
The audio on this Blu-ray is top-notch. With an English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD (as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital) track, this audio quite literally rocks with the sounds of classic AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, and others (GnR’s Welcome to the Jungle will never tire for me). The surround sound effects are dynamic and the action in the rears is lively. Hans Zimmer’s score dominates at times, though isn’t as memorable as his protégé, John Powell’s scores for How to Train Your Dragon or even Robots. This rumbling, vigorous, and spectacularly crisp audio is brilliantly energetic, and it is clear that a great deal of care and skill was poured into the mixing for this release.
The Extras: 4 out of 5
Megamind: The Button of Doom (15:52) (HD): A brand new adventure features the entire cast returning to their roles as Megamind and Minion enjoy their first day as protectors of the city and find themselves up against a giant robot bent on destruction (unleashed as a result of, you guessed it, someone pressing the ‘button of doom) following a yard sale of evil items. A fun little short!
The Animator’s Corner (HD): BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – A Picture-in-Picture feature with original and advanced animatics, behind the scenes and commentary provided by producers, directors, and writers. Some valuable behind the scenes information, including the origins of the film’s story, and bringing it to the screen, are provided here and is worth watching through to get a deeper understanding/appreciation for the film. Not always fascinating, but frequently interesting.
Trivia Track (HD): BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – Pop-up trivia as the film plays.
Comic Creator: BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – Create (and save) your own comic-book via this interactive special feature
Behind the Mind: BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE – Page through images in 4 different photo galleries (Hideouts, Inventions, Vehicles and Megamind: Good & Evil)
Meet the Cast of Megamind (9:26) (HD): Fairly standard feature featuring interviews with producers and the director, and a look at the actors in the sound booth and talking about their characters.
Deleted Scene (1:36) (HD): Producer Lara Breay introduces the ‘Toothbrush’ scene with Megamind stuck in the doldrums following Metro Man’s defeat.
Inside Megamind’s Lair (7:17) (HD): Director Tom McGrath discusses the more interesting realm of the villain, and also features other crew discussing the ‘bad guy’ world.
AnimatorMan (2:01) (HD): This is look at how the animators brought the world of Megamind to life, often acting out certain sequences (as we have seen from other animation behind the scenes features). Like the ‘Lair’ featurette – this contains narration that must be for younger viewers benefit.
- You Can Draw Megamind
- Mega Rap
- The Reign of Megamind – Video Comic Book
- Spot the Difference
Filmmaker’s Commentary: Director McGrath discusses his film with writers Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, and producer Denise Nolan Cascino. The film’s origin and alternate ideas for Megamind’s beginnings on the earth, among others, are presented here. There is much love heard here for the cast, but what is missing is a more technical appreciation for the animation, or revealing details for the design of the city, or the animation marvel – though the point about crashing computers when trying to build cities for Madagascar and now 6 years later being able to build it and destroy it with such detail, was provided.
Previews (HD): Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, Megamind THQ Game.
World of Dreamworks Animation (HD): An interactive look into the worlds of Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar, featuring music videos, clips, and much more
DVD version of the film with the deleted scene, ‘meet the cast’ and filmmaker’s commentary, all of which are available on the blu-ray disc, supplied as extras
Now I’ll admit, Megamind is my cup of tea – it begins with a delightful homage to Superman’s humble origins (and later invokes that homage again with a funny ode to Marlon Brando as father to Christopher Reeves’s Superman), and has most of the ingredients that I enjoy in this kind of film. Metro City is a curious cross between New York City and downtown Los Angeles, and is rich with details as the action swoops through and soars above the towering structures. Visually and technically, Megamind is extraordinary, and though it is not the most original, emotionally resonating animated film, and though it doesn’t quite achieve that top-tier quality reserved for tales that stretch beyond great animated entertainment into the realm of simply great movies (and often great art), it is still jolly good fun.
Overall Score 4 out of 5