Monsters vs Aliens (DVD)

If you love animation as much as I do, and if you are a huge fan of classic B-grade 50s sci-fi (as I am), then you're simply going to love Monsters vs Aliens – even if it is only in 2D this time.

The plot's pretty straightfoward: bride-to-be Susan Murphy (Witherspoon) finds her dream wedding day turned into a nightmare when, after being hit by a meteor, she suddenly grows to 50 feet tall. Well, almost 50 feet – she actually shoots up to 49 feet and 11 inches ... maybe it's a copyright thing? She's captured by a secret US Government department and taken to a hidden base where she's renamed Ginormica and joins a motley bunch of monsters and mutants – Dr Cockroach (Laurie), half-man/half-apelike lizard-thing The Missing Link (Arnett), the gelatinous, and very stupid, Bob (Rogen) and the giant bug Insectosaurus. The monsters are kept locked away so as not to scare the general population, but when San Francisco is attacked by a giant alien robot, the monsters are sent into battle.

Monsters vs Aliens is, for the most part, a triumph. The animation is bright and slick, with exceptional character design. The voice cast is spot-on – particularly Colbert as the US President and Sutherland as the feisty General WR Monger. The dialogue is crisp and witty. There's more than enough here to keep the kids entertained for 94 minutes; and as a bonus, there's just as much for adults. As mentioned earlier, all the monsters – and even the aliens – are based on wonderful B-grade 50s flicks. As you're watching, see if you can pick the characters from The Blob, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Fly and Mothra. This is set to be a huge hit for DreamWorks and takes them a step closer to being a true rival to Pixar. All that's missing is that indefinable something that Pixar have in all their films. I don't know what it is, but it's there. If DreamWorks can find that, then there will be no stopping them producing monster hit after monster hit.

EXTRAS **½ Sadly, for such a first-rate film, the bonus features on this single-disc DVD are a little uninspiring: a filmmaker commentary (with directors Vernon and Letterman, and producer Lisa Stewart); two behind-the-scenes featurettes (The Tech of Monsters vs Aliens, and Modern Monster Movie Making); three deleted scenes (Monger’s Plan, War Room Turns on Monsters, and If You Don’t Know); and a DreamWorks Animation Music Video Juke Box.

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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