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Continuing a trend that began last year with the remake of 1951ís The Day the Earth Stood Still and carries on with the upcoming Alien Trespass; Monsters vs. Aliens has a slightly tougher job as part of Hollywoodís rediscovery of the 1950ís sci-fi movie.  Monsters vs. Aliens aims to bring the qualities of those films that ran the gamut from brilliant to campily ridiculous to its proposed demo of grade-schoolers for whom The Thing is a member of the Fantastic Four and canny enough to ask what flavour jelly the Blob is made of.  Luckily, Monsters vs. Aliens has enough giggles and thrills to keep those kiddies happy while a clever script filled with nods to the age of the alien invasion movies will keep their parents in stitches.

Susan is living her dream Ö mostly. Sheís about to marry the man she loves, Derek, an aspiring local weatherman and start their life together.  It only stings a little when, on their wedding day, Derek informs Susan that they have to cancel their Paris honeymoon, so he can attend an audition in glamourous Fresno.  Susanís a game and supportive girlfriend and bites back her disappointment, walking it off in the churchyard when she spots a definite sign of things to come.  The big glowy rock that drops out of the sky and smack dab onto our heroine disappears, unseen by any of the wedding party and Susanís disorientation is chalked up to jitters.  Itís only at the point of saying ďI do,Ē that something inside Susan breaks out and our girl outgrows Derek, literally.  Susan stretches to a height of 49 feet 11 inches and her hair turns snow white (cool!).  Instantly, the military is on the scene and captures the brand-new giantess.  Susan wakes up in a barren, reinforced barracks with some new neighbours.

Dr. Cockroach, The Missing Link, Insectosaurus and B.O.B. survive Susanís initial shock at their appearance to inform her that sheís been imprisoned by the government with no way to escape.  The military believes the world simply canít handle the reality that actual monsters, as Susan is now qualified, exist.  Still, a girl can hope, and Susan tries to return to normal size and a life with her beloved Derek, playing guinea pig to Dr. Cockroachís mad science experiments.  The universe wonít wait for true love and when another flying object hurtles toward Earth, the military drafts the quintet of monsters to repel the threat of Gallaxhar, a particularly unoriginal alien who wants to take over the world, enslave its inhabitants, and so on.  After the monster crew are released onto the streets of San Francisco, they realise they might not be as equipped for this battle against the alien and his robotic forces (- which bear an amazing resemblance to the Ghota from Alien Trespass) as the military thought.  When Gallaxhar destroys the Golden Gate Bridge with travelers still on it, a leader emerges; Susan - code name Ginormica - uses her strength and smarts, calling out plays for her team to follow, saving the day.  The bait to persuade the monsters to fight was the guarantee their freedom from the military prison; this turns out to be a mixed blessing as it occurs to each of our heroes that the world really might not be prepared for their return to normal life.  Susanís parents are thrilled to have her home, but still frightened of her and terrified and repulsed by her friends.  Neither is her reunion with Derek the loving homecoming she expected.  Derek is jealous of Susanís new fame and breaks up with her, refusing to be in the shadow, figuratively or otherwise, of this gigantic girl.  The team seems to fit in nowhere and when Gallaxhar starts phase two of his attack on Earth, the mighty monster crew understand what they are meant to do.

The creatures in Monsters vs. Aliens are based on characters from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Fly, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Blob with healthy references to other classic science fiction epics.  Insectosaurus, half-giant grub and half-adorable fuzzy thingy, actually emerges from a web cocoon to sprout butterfly wings and legs.  I was waiting for a pair of twin girls in sarongs to start singing to it.  Monster vs. Aliensí clever script keeps the movie from becoming a parody as opposed to an affectionate homage to the genre. (- However, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Monsters vs. Aliens does at times embarrass itself in tributes to Tim Burtonís Mars Attacks.)   Having a first rate voice cast doesnít hurt the film, either; Iíll take Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett and Stephen Colbert in the same movie no matter what the medium.  Directors Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon make perfect use Rogenís infectious giggle as the brainless, happy-go-lucky, indestructible blob, B.O.B.  Arnettís muscular growl fits the macho, rambunctious Missing Link like a glove.  As the insect with the genius I.Q., Hugh Laurie infuses Dr. Cockroach with his dry, acerbic delivery in total compliment to the tiny, mad scientist.  Stephen Colbertís not nearly in the film enough, but his scenes as the President, who learned everything he knows about alien communication from Stephen Spielberg and composer John Williams, are hilarious (- Keep an eye out for the ďE.T. go homeĒ missle).  Working a deep-fried Texas twang, Kiefer Sutherland is a hoot as the gung-ho, square-jawed, wedgie-wielding general, W.R. Monger, warden of the monstersí hidden hideout.  The general is a chip off General Buck Turgidsonís block; he makes the most of an entire scene inside a circular war room in direct reference to Dr. Strangelove.  Reese Witherspoon has a perfect grasp on Susan/Ginormicaís transition from sweet and demure to feisty and confident (- and fabulously coiffed and catsuited!).

Not quite sophisticated enough to exclude the odd booger joke, Monsters vs. Aliens is at least hip enough to have given us in Susan/Ginormica a lead female character that little girls in the audience can look up to Ė no pun intended.  Susanís learning to value who she is, no matter how unusual she may be.  Her refusal to accept anyone who doesnít love her for herself is a fantastic lesson for anyone, particularly the younger, feminine sector of the audience.  Susan is surrounded by her loyal cast of clowns, who, along with the filmís freewheeling action sequences, will be more than enough to keep the young boys in the audience entertained; plus, like any good 1950ís homage, Monsters vs. Aliens is in 3D, which adds to the thrills wonderfully.  The rapid-fire pop culture relevant script and its loving look at the 1950ís UFO films that inspired it will make for happy parents, as well.  Iím looking forward to more Monster adventures soon.



~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 26th 2009











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