Monsters vs. Aliens spins a modern twist on classic horror monsters like the 50-foot woman, the Fly, the Blob, Mothra, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It throws in a little sci-fi inspired by The Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to create a high-concept mash-up so suited for mass entertainment that you’d wonder why nobody had thought of it before.
Turns out that someone had thought of it before. Well, kind of. And in borrowing so many elements from elsewhere, MvA never really flies on its own steam. The humour is sloppier than B.O.B.’s gelatinous body, and many of the jokes fall flatter than a pancake-shaped meteor. Likewise, the story is a bit thin. Susan’s self-empowerment trajectory is interesting, but her fellow monsters get short shrift – especially Dr. Cockroach, who barely registers.
What the film lacks in wit and characterisation, however, it makes up for with snazzy visuals. Incredibly detailed computer animation – the glistening skin on The Missing Link or the waves in the San Francisco harbour – looks damn cool in three dimensions, especially when used to create a sense of scale. The sub-orbital climactic battle is overblown – full of explosions and noisy chaos – but the ending promises a sequel. Let’s hope it’s funnier than this one.