Netflix UK film review: Monsters vs. Aliens
James R | On 16, Apr 2016
Directors: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Stephen Colbert
Watch Monsters vs. Aliens online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Monsters are awesome. Who doesn’t love Godzilla, the original man-in-a-Muppet Japanese destroyer? Or that pulsating blobby thing from The Blob? Well, many five-year-old kids, for a start. They’ve never seen these classics – unless they had one weird upbringing. So Monsters vs. Aliens, DreamWorks Animation’s tribute to trashy terrors, shouldn’t really appeal to them. But it does.
The film nails both audiences in one simple move: It takes some monsters. And an alien. Then lets rip. And so we meet Susan (Witherspoon), a bride to be who gets hit by a massive meteor. And then grows to 10 times her normal size. Taken into custody by General W.R. Monger (Sutherland), “Ginormica” (her given name) is soon surrounded by other monsters: the gelatinous Bicarbonate Ostylezene Benzoate, ‘BOB’ (Rogen); a mad scientist, turned into a cockroach, Dr Cockroach PhD (Laurie); The Missing Link (Arnett), a thawed out fish-man from 20,000 years ago; and Insectosaurus, a giant insect. Well, duh.
When alien Galaxxar invades America (“the only country UFOs ever seem to land in”), they respond by unleashing their own brand of freaks. The result is a frenetic series of set-piece confrontations, punctuated by silly jokes and stunning graphics – each frame is rendered with a real sense of depth. The plot is simplistic, near non-existent; it’s a mish-mash of every monster movie cliché Hollywood has to offer. Which is precisely why it works.
Playfully riffing on the 50s fiends, the film leaps from the Black Lagoon to The Fly with a knowing wink. As Close Encounters of the Third Kind gives way to War of the Worlds, they introduce a 50ft Woman for the modern world – a self-empowered female who literally outgrows her subdued marital role. And then tears down the Golden Gate Bridge. Each character is a witty piece of design, from their appearance to their roots. It’s just a shame we don’t get more aliens to match (the lazy route of cloning will have to suffice).
The B-movie vibe is brought to life by an A-List cast, with Arrested Development’s Will Arnett and Seth Rogen a particular highlight. Sutherland, too, has fun as the hammy General playing Dr Strangelove to (Presidential candidate) Stephen Colbert’s clueless (and slightly wasted) President: a mild satire on US foreign policy? Forget that. Bring on the monsters!
The colourful visuals and very daft script make for madcap entertainment that works for even those who haven’t grown up in swimming in science fiction and horror movies. More fun than Aliens vs. Predator, the result is perfect popcorn fodder for children and geeks alike.
Monsters vs. Aliens is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.