Megamind review (Blu-ray)

Spider-Man, Superman, Batman. Barely a week goes by without news of yet another old comic book superhero being dusted off, rejigged, recast and set for another outing in a shiny new form. But recently, brand new superheroes are being created (some original thought, yay!) and this year we’ve had Kick-Ass and now, in animated form, Metro Man (Pitt). For once though, the superhero is not the star of the show – that honour falls to Megamind, played by Will Ferrell.

Born on the same planet far, far away, Megamind and Metro Man arrive on earth as babies. While Metro Man has Superman-like powers and is brought up in a wealthy family, Megamind is the odd one out, with his huge head and blue skin, meaning he’s always the last to be picked in games. However, this outsider role combined with his brilliance at inventions makes him the ideal adversary to Metro Man and the two have numerous battles, almost all of which end with Megamind in prison.

One day though, the blue villain outsmarts the superhero of Metrocity and kills him. Far from satisfying Megamind though, he soon realises that without an enemy, his life is meaningless, especially since his beloved Roxie (Fey), a TV news reporter has no interest in him. So to liven things up, he creates a superhero of his own. But it soon transpires that his plan hasn’t really been thought through.

A couple of years ago Hancock starring Will Smith had a stab at subverting the classic superhero story and up to a point was successful. In the end however, it reverted to cliché and missed a trick in not being brave enough. Arguably it’s easier to be brave with animation but either way, Dreamworks have nailed it with Megamind. By removing the hero, a vital element of the drama is stripped away and the villain, so used to the competition and intellectual challenge facing him, is bereft. His victory ends up being the last thing he wants or needs and as in Universal’s recent Despicable Me, the bad guy must reassess his motivations.

It’s a ploy which works brilliantly because while all the usual superhero conventions are present, they’re almost all turned on their head so instead of being clichéd, they become fresh and delightful. The voice cast is uniformly excellent, with Ferrell really getting his teeth into the role of the supervillain, but David Cross as his fish companion Minion very nearly steals the show (and sounds quite a lot like Billy Crystal). The action sequences are beautifully constructed (and look good in 3D), with invention and humour aplenty and the script is terrific, with gags galore and laughs throughout. Fun, funny and fantastic from start to finish.

EXTRAS ★★★ A filmmakers' audio commentary; a new animated adventure, Megamind: The Button of Doom; Animator’s Corner picture-in-picture feature in which storyboards, behind the scenes footage and interviews pop up during the fiolm; the Trivia Track feature, which pops up during the film; an Interactive Comic Creator; the Meet the Cast featurette; a deleted scene; the Visit Megamind’s Lair featurette; the Experience AnimatorMan featurette; the Learn to Draw Megamind featurette; the Unleash The Reign of Megamind Video Comic Book.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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