Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review #25

Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review
#25: Megamind

When it comes to superhero movies, it’s rare to find one that takes the superhero ideal and turns it in on itself without coming off as being incredibly cheesy. And yet, this movie manages to pull it off.

“Megamind” is a computer-animated superhero comedy movie released in 2010 by DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Tom McGrath and featured the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, and Brad Pitt. It was released in both traditional and 3D formats in the theatres but only in 2D format in the DVD release.

The story begins with a rip-off of the Superman legend, namely a blue alien baby from a dying world is sent into space by his loving parents. He is given some last-minute messages and his “minion” in the form of a sentient fish before being launched into space. Unfortunately as his ship travels to Earth, it runs in conflict with another orphaned baby ship containing the “perfect baby”, and the two orphan ships race to find the “suitable family” for their babies. The “perfect” baby ends up appearing in the living room of a wealthy couple on Christmas Day while the blue alien baby ends up in a prison yard. From there, the two grow up to be in constant conflict with each other. The “perfect” child would do everything right, while the blue child would end up getting tormented and blamed for everything.

Eventually the two grow up to be rivals in Metro City, with the “perfect” child becoming the superhero Metro Man (Pitt) and the blue child becoming the evil villain Megamind (Ferrell). And for years, the two of them have the same routine, consisting of Megamind kidnapping nosy reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Fey), putting her well-being in peril, and Metro Man would foil the “master plan” and send Megamind back to prison, where he would later escape and do the same thing over again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So when Metro City honors Metro Man with his own museum and gigantic statue, Megamind cannot help but device the “ultimate” plan to humiliate Metro Man. With the help of Minion (Cross), Megamind kidnaps Roxanne and holds her hostage, knowing Metro Man would rush to her rescue, and accidentally fall into his deathtrap. But then, much to the surprise of everyone, Metro Man announces that the deathtrap is made of copper; his one weakness. When the trap is blown up by Megamind’s death ray, a skeleton wearing Metro Man’s cape is thrown from the blast area. At long last, Megamind has won and Metro Man is dead.

For a while Megamind uses Metro City as his own playground, but he quickly discovers he is bored by it all. There is no joy in being evil when there is no hero to save the day. While he prepares to blow up the Metro Man Museum, he accidentally comes across Roxanne, who also wished that Metro Man was still around. Killing the museum curator and taking his place, Megamind begins to befriend Roxanne and decides to follow her idea of creating a new hero. He takes a sample of Metro Man’s DNA to create a serum that would give someone superpowers. But Megamind accidentally sends the serum into Hal Stewart (Hill), Roxanne’s simple-minded cameraman who is head-over-heels in unrequited love with her.

Determined to turn Hal into the superhero worthy of replacing Metro Man, Megamind and Minion launch a scheme to trick Hal into thinking he’s really a “space baby” just like Metro Man. Megamind pulls this off by using the same holographic watch he uses to trick Roxanne into thinking he’s the museum curator, and turns himself into “space dad” (which is a knock-off of Marlon Brando’s Jor-El from the “Superman” movie).

Thus we have a montage of scenes of Megamind getting to know Roxanne and of him training Hal into becoming a superhero known as Titan (or “Tighten”, since it was the only name he could trademark). He also begins to clean up Metro City from his earlier celebrations, much to the pleasure of Roxanne, who begins to think that Megamind isn’t as “evil” as he used to be.

On the evening before the “Big Battle”, Hal, as Titan, shows up outside Roxanne’s apartment to woo her, only to have her utterly reject him. Meanwhile, Minion finds out that Megamind has been sneaking away to see Roxanne in disguise and that he is actually falling in love with Roxanne. Minion reminds Megamind that “the bad guy does not get the girl”, causing Megamind to blurt out that maybe he doesn’t want to be “the bad guy” anymore. With Minion leaving him in disgust, Megamind’s date with Roxanne becomes a disaster, with her finding out that he has been impersonating the curator, and proclaiming that she could never see herself with someone like him.

Dejected, Megamind orders his numerous robot drones to prepare his “Black Mamba” outfit so he can kick off his “big battle” with Titan in style. Sauntering into Metro City in his giant robot with AC/DC’s “Black in Black” playing in the background, Megamind calls out Titan, only to spend the whole day doing nothing but waiting in front of City Hall. Much to his horror, Titan has been spending his time stealing whatever he wanted.

Revealing that he’s really both “Space Dad” and the guy dating Roxanne, Megamind goads Titan into the promised battle, until Titan announces that he’s going to actually kill Megamind for not working with him. This forces Megamind to use his “contingency plan” and contain Titan in a ball made of copper. Unfortunately Titan breaks through the ball, much to the surprise of Megamind since Titan should have the same weakness as Metro Man. Megamind leaves, and Titan announces that the city wasn’t really “saved” as it was placed under “new management”.

And we’ll leave it here, because the rest will spoil the ending.

The movie is a great play on the classic superhero story, showing how the “eternal battle” gets to the point that it becomes boring to the participants. And of course there is the “Wiley E. Coyote” dilemma of what do you do when you get what you’ve been chasing for so long. The good guy always wins, the bad guy always loses, so what happens when the bad guy finally wins? This movie plays up on it quite well.

The vocal casting is done quite well. If you didn’t know it was Will Ferrell doing the voice of Megamind, you wouldn’t have guessed. On the other hand, you can see the facial mannerisms of Roxanne and see Tina Fey doing her voice, and the same holds true to Brad Pitt doing Metro Man’s voice. The characters are done over-the-top, but only just enough to avoid being cheesy.

The use of well-recognized pop songs to mark the arrival of Megamind help sell the character, although a few songs delved more into the “music video” category than helping to sell the story. This was the mistake that the people behind “Zoom” made as well, although DreamWorks didn’t go as far as Sony Pictures did.

In all this is a good hero comedy movie, and one that even villains should be able to enjoy.

Capes: I’m hesitant to give this movie five capes. The hero level certainly gives it four capes.
Cheese: While this is a comedy, and a great play on the classic hero story, there is still some cheese to it. I won’t say where because it will ruin the ending, but you’ll know when you see it. Don’t worry; it’s just Mild Cheddar (2).
Books: Megamind is a good story, although not great, and with the few songs used more for “music video” than to convey a story, I have to give it three books out of five.