When I first saw the trailer for “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation’s latest comedy-action adventure – I thought it looked like a shameless ripoff of “The Incredibles.” Both deal with superheroes, and the movies even use similar styles of animation. That being said, the premise – two superpowered beings, Megamind and Metroman, choosing opposite sides and engaging in a never-ending series of showdowns – looked amusing enough. All in all, though, I didn’t think it looked that good.
Fortunately, I was mistaken. “Megamind” is an entertaining, family-friendly adventure, that also has a few good things to say about good, evil, and human nature.
The film opens with a brief prologue: two super-powered infants are launched from exploding planets and fall to earth (a la Superman). One falls into the care of a wealthy family, while the other lands in a prison. Their lives take very different courses from that point on. The pampered infant grows up to be superhero Metroman (voiced by Brad Pitt) who makes a career out of doing good deeds. On the other hand, his counterpart Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) emerges as his supervillain nemesis. Suffering from blue skin and a lightbulb-shaped head, he’s comfortable being demonized by the inhabitants of Metro City. The two quickly fall into a “comfortable” arrangement – Megamind kidnaps the pretty reporter Roxanne (voiced by Tina Fey) and Metroman subsequently saves her.
That is, until one of Megamind’s plans actually works – killing Metroman.
Megamind – although stunned at the inadvertent success of his plot – quickly takes over Metro City, wreaking havoc for the sheer fun of it. However, he quickly becomes discontented with his life of villainy. Hoping to regain some sense of purpose, he decides to create a new superhero nemesis for himself. Unfortunately, his designated recipient of superpowers turns out to be anything but a hero.
On the surface, “Megamind” seems like little more than a slickly produced, well-made animated feature. The voice acting is strong, and the film employs 3D effectively. But there are a few elements here that elevate “Megamind” above other DreamWorks endeavors.
For starters, this film is squeaky-clean. There are a few moments of mild violence (as one might expect given the subject matter) but practically nothing that would put the movie off-limits for viewers of any age. (This is a refreshing change from the innuendo found in earlier DreamWorks movies…e.g. the Shrek series.) It manages to be funny without being crass – a seeming challenge, but one that modern animation studios (Pixar et al.) are effectively overcoming.
Second, some of the messages in “Megamind” resonate on a Biblical level. Megamind’s initial despair over his lack of purpose is consistent with a Christian view of sin – it may be briefly pleasurable, but it fails to satisfy in the long run. The movie also highlights (in several ways that I won’t go into for fear of spoilers) the fact that all humans are basically self-serving and villainous at heart. These sinful actions may ultimately lead to a meaningless outcome, but people pursue them nonetheless – concerned only with the joys of the moment. Although the animators probably weren’t intending to convey a spiritual message, some of the predominant themes in “Megamind” are backed up in Scripture.
Third, the film shines on a technical level. As previously noted, the animation and voice acting are top-notch. A strong soundtrack, including selections from Michael Jackson, AC/DC, and Guns N’ Roses – is integrated with perfect comic timing. I found myself enjoying it not just as an illustration of spiritual concepts, but as a good movie in its own right. Even the most jaded viewer will probably be entertained.
So, should you see it?
This isn’t a movie made for adults – it’s a kids’ film at heart – but as family entertainment, it succeeds marvelously, and even includes some surprisingly deep messages. Recommended for families looking for a well-made, clean movie that provides substance for good discussions.
Not the best animated movie ever made, but a surprisingly substantial film. A “family-friendly” movie that manages to entertain kids and adults alike.
Normalized Score: 4.6