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When a meteorite from outer space hits a young girl and turns her into a giant monster, she is taken to a secret government compound where she meets a ragtag group of monsters also rounded up over the years.
The story arc of Monsters VS Aliens is really about a woman's journey to independance. Reece Witherspoon is the voice of Susan, a woman who was about to be married to a man who's career and own life is more important to him than their life together. Susan will be a shadow bride and follow her hubby where ever his career takes him.
But then an alien probe crashes on earth, landing on Susan as she is about to walk down the aisle and her whole world changes.
Like a Superhero birth story, the alien probe turns Susan into a 50ft. giant with strength to either help or destroy the world. With this event she learns how to be her own person and to never be a shadow in anyone else's existence. And that's what the film is trying to tell children. To be your own person and never settle into someone else's world, especially if you are a woman. Her being a giant is a metaphor for us all being giants in our own world. None of us are small and no one is more important than us.
There is even a scene that ends the first act of Monsters vs Aliens that that defines the role reversal theme they are trying to portray. A young couple are 'parking' and its the woman who is the one who knows what she wants, whereas the man is the confused one. And when they go out to see this alien ship that interrupts their 'parking', it's the woman who is not afraid and its the man who is scared and support from the woman.
The only problem is that Susan has a barbie like figure and really only .0001% of the population looks like this. So as they attempt to tell us a woman's rights movie, our female hero looks like a model who is super skinny which no one really can relate to.
Does Monsters vs Aliens work? In some parts it does and in some parts it doesn't. I saw this film in a Sunday afternoon screening that was sold out and full of kids. They were completely engaged when there was action, but whenever there was communication between two people (adult conversation), they got bored and antsy in their seats. That told me a lot. In order for the plot to work, those adult scenes were needed, but there could of been another way for them to do it so the kids actually understood them.
This is a film geared for kids and parents. The kids need to laugh at the same jokes the parents do as there is usually more than one meaning. Animation films are usually the hardest films to write because the story needs to cross generations but also keep the G rating intact. Perhaps why there are usually at least 4-7 credited writers for a Hollywood animation movie. And probably another 5-10 non-credited writers contributing a scene or two to the script.
And this whole 3D thing. It's definitely the future but they seem to be in the figuring out stage in how to really use it. The openings to these films always flash their 3D at us with a cool image, but after that there really isn't anything that spectacular and there really is no point to spending the extra money watching it. I have a feeling that its going to be James Cameron's AVATOR (coming out Summer of 2010) that's going to put 3D on the map. And right now it just seems to be a device to make some extra money at the box office.
So Monsters VS Alens has an important message but it's probably a forgotten film in a year