MEGAMIND 3D (PG)
SUPERMAN wouldn’t be quite so super without scheming Lex Luthor, while Batman’s cowl and utility belt would gather dust were it not for the maniacal Joker.
Good and evil live side by side, locked in a perpetual tug of war.
Light or dark occasionally triumphs but invariably the balance of power shifts between them.
Directed by Tom McGrath, who previously made Madagascar and its sequel, Megamind is a fast-paced computer animated adventure that asks if a villain could become a hero when the entire world is pitted against him.
The role reversal taps into a rich vein of humour and screenwriters Alan J Schoolcraft and Brent Simons have fun plundering the conventions of the genre.
They pepper the script with pop culture references, wry one-liners and visual gags like the ‘NO YOU CAN’T’ posters which the eponymous villain plasters over the city in a sly dig at Barack Obama’s election promises.
There is also an affectionate nod to Marlon Brando’s scenery-chewing portrayal of Superman’s father Jor-El.
However, in a vintage year for dazzling, family-friendly animation led by Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon, McGrath’s film lacks that special something to distinguish it from the crowd.
Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) is separated from his alien parents as a child and crash-lands on Earth, where he grows up in the Metro Prison For The Criminally Gifted.
Surrounded by thieves, murderers and degenerates, he discovers his calling.
“Being bad is the one thing I’m good at!” he giggles, sowing the seeds of a lifelong rivalry with dashing hunk Metro Man (Brad Pitt), who gets all of the applause and the girls, including TV journalist Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey).
Miraculously, one of Megamind’s elaborate plans comes to fruition and Metro Man is destroyed, allowing the villain and his loyal henchman, Minion (David Cross), to take charge of Metro City.
Unthinkably, the villain develops strong feelings for Roxanne.
“The one thing I do know: the bad guy never gets the girl,” Minion reminds him.
“Maybe I don’t want to be the bad guy,” shockingly replies Megamind.
Perhaps Roxanne’s snivelling cameraman (Jonah Hill) could provide a novel solution to the predicament.
Megamind is a lively affair and makes good use of the 3D technology during the action sequences.
Vocal performances are strong and Ferrell tugs the heart-strings as the lead protagonist, who is tired of striking fear into everyone he meets.
Tom McGrath’s film appropriates elements from Shrek and The Incredibles and produces an entertaining hybrid that should have parents chuckling with glee.
However, with the focus on the unlikely romance and a noticeable absence of cute supporting characters, young audiences may be bored out of their not-so-mega minds.
STAR RATING: ***