Tom McGrath | 92 mins | TV | 2.35:1 | USA / English | PG / PG
From the co-director of Madagascar, Madagascar 2 and Madagascar 3 comes this superhero spoof that had the misfortune of arriving in cinemas two months after the broadly-similarly-themed and well-received Despicable Me, and suffered because of it: while Universal’s CG ‘toon foray earnt over $250m on a budget under $70m, Dreamworks’ Megamind could only rake in $164m, a smidgen (in movie terms) over its $130m cost. Which is a shame, because I found it to be the more entertaining film.
I’ve detailed my dis-love for Despicable Me separately so don’t want to get too far drawn into that again, but it’s a superhero movie in very broad terms only. Which is fine as it goes, but fails to deliver on what I felt was a selling point. Maybe that’s why a general audience bought it more. Megamind, conversely, is absolutely steeped in its genre. It is, essentially, Superman if Superman lost. I wouldn’t say an understanding of the Superman mythology is essential to getting Megamind (and even if it is, having seen one of the film or TV incarnations will have you covered), but it adds something.
Another inevitable point of comparison is Pixar’s The Incredibles, one of their best films, and it’s fair to say Dreamworks’ answer isn’t that good. On the bright side it does offer something different, riffing on a different area of the superhero universe (the sole protector rather than the team) and taking the villain’s side. It arguably plays as a companion piece rather than a rival.
There’s a starry voice cast behind the characters, and fortunately they never overwhelm their roles. Which is good, because I’m not really a fan of Will Ferrell and he’s the lead. There’s also the likes of Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Ben Stiller rounding out proceedings — not that it matters because, as I say, the voices fit their roles seamlessly.
Megamind seems to have gotten lost in the never-ending roll of CG cartoons that fill multiplexes now, buried beneath the success of Megamind and Dreamworks’ own extra-sized franchises (they’re aiming for “at least” three How To Train Your Dragons, four Madagascars, and six Kung Fu Pandas, for crying out loud). While I wouldn’t argue it’s a classic, and perhaps it’s as well suited to superhero fans as it is to the ostensible kiddy audience (not that it’s not right for them too), it merits more attention than it got.