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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Eberts review of Monsters vs. Aliens with thoughts on 3D trend

   
Author Topic: Eberts review of Monsters vs. Aliens with thoughts on 3D trend
Paburrows
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http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090325/REVIEWS/903259989/-1/em ail_headlines

Monsters vs. Aliens


/ / / March 25, 2009

by Roger Ebert

"Monsters vs. Aliens" is possibly the most commercial title of the year. How can you resist such a premise, especially if it's in 3-D animation? Very readily, in my case. I will say this first and get it out of the way: 3-D is a distraction and an annoyance. Younger moviegoers may think they like it because they've been told to, and picture quality is usually far from their minds. But for anyone who would just like to be left alone to see the darned thing, like me, it's a constant nudge in the ribs saying never mind the story, just see how neat I look.

The film was made in Tru3D, the DreamWorks process that has been hailed by honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg as the future of the cinema. It is better than most of the 3-D I've seen (it doesn't approach the work on "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf"). But if this is the future of movies for grownups and not just the kiddies, saints preserve us. Billions of people for a century have happily watched 2-D and imagined 3-D. Think of the desert in "Lawrence of Arabia." The schools of fish in "Finding Nemo." The great hall in "Citizen Kane."

Now that flawless screen surface is threatened with a gimmick, which, let's face it, is intended primarily to raise ticket prices and make piracy more difficult. If its only purpose was artistic, do you think Hollywood would spend a dime on it? The superb MaxiVision process is available for $15,000 a screen, and the Hollywood establishment can't even be bothered to look at it. Why invest in the technology of the future when they can plunder the past?

Speaking of the past, "Monsters vs. Aliens" retreads some of the monsters that starred in actual 1950s B movies: a blob, the 50-Foot Woman and no end of aliens with towering foreheads on their dome-shaped heads. Whether the average kid will get all of the connections is beside the point; if kids could accept Pokemon and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, these monsters are going to seem like masterpieces of manic personality.

The plot: On her wedding day, sweet Susan (Reese Witherspoon) is mutated by a meteorite; just as she walks down the aisle she grows to (I learn) just an inch short of 50 feet, maybe because Disney wanted to respect the copyright. Her husband (Paul Rudd) was no match for her, anyway, and now he really has Small Man Complex. After she wreaks havoc with every step, the media names her Ginormica, no doubt sidestepping "Amazonia" so as not to offend the lesbian lobby.

She's snatched by the feds and deposited in a secret government prison holding other monsters, who have been languishing since the 1950s. They're old enough that, if they escape, they could terrorize the subway on a senior pass.

Earth is invaded by an robot, which has one big eyeball in the middle of its head, like a giant Leggs pantyhose container bred with an iSight camera. Gen. W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) and the President (Stephen Colbert) are helpless to deal with this threat, and in desperation release the monsters to save Earth. Springing, leaping, skittering or oozing into battle, we have Ginormica at the head of an army including B.O.B., Insectosaurus, Dr. Cockroach and the Missing Link.

Except for Susan, who is perky, these creatures have no personalities in the sense of the distinctive characters in DreamWorks' "Shrek" movies. They express basic intentions, fears and desires in terms of their physical characteristics. There is a lot of banging, clanging, toppling, colliding and crumbing in the movie, especially when San Francisco is attacked by Gallaxhar, a squid that is the master of the robot. Conventional evolutionary guidelines are lost in the confusion.

I didn't find the movie rich with humor, unless frenetic action is funny. Maybe kids have learned to think so. Too bad for them. Think of the depth of "Pinocchio." Kids in those days were treated with respect for their intelligence. "Monsters vs. Aliens" is also lacking in wit. What is wit? Well, for example, the spirit in which I am writing this review. The dictionary defines it as "analogies between dissimilar things, expressed in quick, sharp, spontaneous observations." A weak point with the monsters, and way outside Gallaxhar's range.

I suppose kids will like this movie, especially those below the age of reason. Their parents may not be as amused, and if they have several children, may ask themselves how much it was worth for the kids to wear the glasses. Is there a child who would see this movie in 2-D (which has brighter colors than 3-D) and complain?

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Greg B
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The whole premise of the movie reminds me of something else. Might have been a comic book or a tv show.

I can't wait to see the 3D effects. I'm hopping on down to the theatre now.

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GaryClair
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Saw it.. besides the typical Dreamwork story problems, and milquetoast humor, Thumbs up!

The humor has a tone of doing the old "Thumb trick" while whistling. Bordering on "Cheesy"
The blob character was it's saving grace.

but besides that... I REALLY enjoyed it.
Eye candy-a-plenty!

And the new Trueview 3d is something to see. The "depth" and clarity is better than anything i've seen before.

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acme
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I have to admit I am guilty of liking 3d films. I know many in the past have been terrible. I think if done like Coraline it can be an amazing accent like surround sound. I hope it does stick around. However I don't think it means every film should be made 3d.

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Mr. Fun
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Actually, I enjoyed watching the story reels.

Seeing drawing on screen doing funny things are often more fun than all the hoo-hah that eventually ends up on screen.

Less is more, Jeffrey. Less is more.

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Captain 3D
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Hi All

I am pleased to see the 3D is getting a great response out there in the real world ;-). I have read a lot of the reviews this week specifically looking for 3D comments to help us build our techniques for the next one (Shrek/Dragons). Some reviews have legitimate concerns like fast camera motion is more stroby in the 3D projector but many dont.

Take Eberts for example. Here is the simple test. As you re read it replace the word 3D with color. What he is really saying is there is no need to try anything new.

On the other hand this is the best review I have found...

http://andrewallanschmidt.blogspot.com/2009/03/reald.html

"Things I will do with my Saturday:

a) For starters, I don't smoke weed very often, but some occasions just call for it. For example, in about 20 minutes, we are going to get blunted so badly and then go see Monsters vs. Aliens in IMAX 3D. Honestly, if you've never tried this it's the best thing ever. The feeling is worth way more than the $15. If I knew these movies looked that amazing under the influence of mary-jane I'd probably pay something around $45. So yeah, that's that."

cheers...phil
(stereoscopic supervisor MvA)

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Paburrows
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Yeah but color has been tryed and tested time and time again and has proven to be a benifit. 3D was tryed in the 50's and has yet to do well. But maybe this time is different.

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Paburrows
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Theres nothing really new about 3D.

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Paburrows
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http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2009/03/27/monsters-vs-aliens-long-on-laugh s-short-on-storytelling.aspx

"Monsters Vs Aliens" long on laughs & spectacle, short on emotionally-satisfying storytelling

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Greg B
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With all the bells and whistles I expected this movie to have ruled the box office last weekend. You can't turn down monsters, aliens, and 3D.

I really expected it to have made $30 million more than it did.

For the full experience I'm watching on IMAX and I'm taking a cute blonde chick with me! Duddn't get better than that.

Well, maybe it can but I would really get in trouble!

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Dennis Woodyard
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I saw Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D, with 5, 11 and 12 years old boys, and they loved it. I enjoyed it also (although the boys pick the very first row to watch from. My neck still hurts from looking up at the screen) It was a great family movie to see on a rainy Sunday afternoon here in Rochester, and a lot of people felt the same. The theatre was packed.

I try to see it again, from a seat further back.

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Metsys
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quote:
Yeah but color has been tryed and tested time and time again and has proven to be a benifit. 3D was tryed in the 50's and has yet to do well. But maybe this time is different.
Well, back in the 50's it was done with the red and blue glasses. I'm not sure if they had full color stereoscopic movies back then, but if they didn't then I know historically why it failed.

A friend of mine recently saw Bolt in 3D and reported that he could only watch it for 8 minutes at a time because he got a headache. He said that it was probably because either the film had a wide stereo base, depth of field is handled by the film and not your eyes when focusing on an object, there's ghosting from the opposite frame, or all of the above. So not everyone can handle 3D films and physically enjoy it in they same way people get sick playing certain video games (I know a friend who can play Conter Strike: Source but not Half-Life 2 without getting sick).

Both my friend and I went to SIGGRAPH over the past couple of years and we spent a lot of time looking at 3D displays because it was something we were thinking about getting in to (this of course preceding him watching Bolt). So far there really is no perfect 3D solution. Polarized glasses ghost, shutter glasses ghost and flicker, having to wear two sets of glasses at once is a drag, and the screens that don't require glasses have discoloration issues in each eye, and of course there's the depth of field issue.

Even though I'm not sold on stereoscopic films yet, I'll be watching Up in 3D while my friend is going to watch it in 2D. It's been several years since watching an IMAX 3D film, so I'd like to see if things have improved. And I'm fairly confident that Up won't make me cross-eyed.

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Ganklin
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i hope to hell that "3D" doesn't become the standard, or i won't be seeing any films in the theater. i'm one of the minority who can not perceive the illusion. all i see is the tinted lenses of the glasses and a blurry picture that gives me a head ache after 5 seconds of watching it.

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Squash Banana
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I have a feeling I would have liked MVA more if it hadn't followed Kung Fu Panda. It's the same reason, I think, that so many people disliked Pocahontas: it's tough to follow an act like The Lion King. That said, Pocahontas could at least stand on its merits, but Monsters VS Aliens falls back into the old Dreamworks rut that had begun to make their pre-KFP movies so forgettable. Oh sure: there were plenty of things to enjoy and appreciate about the film, but if I never see it again.... eh, I won't be crushed. Word on the street is that How to Train Your Pet Dragon (I got that right?) will be really good, though. Anyone else care to spin the rumor-mill on that one?
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talos72
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Been a while since posting...lot of new folks on the board. [Smile] Anyhow, I just caught this film on Imax 3D. My 2 cents: to be honest I just don't think 3D will be the savior for ticket sales some hope it to be. First off, people probably will not catch a film if it gets a bad buzz (3D or not). Second, with all the options for home viewing the competition will be stiffer in the coming years as more people will opt to catch movies at home. I just shelled over $15 for my "Imax 3D" experience plus concessions...that is pretty steep for one person let alone a family movie outing.

Some say 3D will keep people in the theaters because they will not experience it at home. Well just this year a slew of 3D enabled LCDs will be released with their own viewing glasses and all. Now 3D at home may not take off this year, but it's on its way.

So the point is that people pay to see good entertainment, but if they could catch it for cheaper and at home they will not shell out for rising ticket prices regardless of the latest technological gimmick.

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Greg B
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To tell the truth, I was watching some of the classic "Wonderful World of Color" on YouTube and even with the bad resolution, the animation in the feature regarding Disney movies was so magical and fluid that when I went back to watching CG stuff I got bored.

CG is so commonplace now it just doesn't grab me anymore. It all boils down to fine animation, characterization, and storytelling.

I saw the clips on the storyboards of "Lady and the Tramp" where Peggy Lee was trying to find spots in the storyboards where songs could go in. They told the entire movie's story in a few minutes with just illustrations and it was thoroughly entertaining! I'd pay money for that!

Some companies use CG for their features and they miss out on story in CG the same as they miss in 2D. Some CG characters have a life of their own but I'd bet if the same animator did it in 2D the same effect would be there. It all boils down to the talent not the gimmick I guess.

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SNAKEBITE
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I like Pixars films. theres always gonna be room for those types of movies...but theres room for so much more too. we need more out of the box production. thats the real problem.

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PHIL
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I saw this the other weekend, for no other reason than to kill a few hours until my train home. I didn't see the film in 3D, opting to save a bit of cash instead. I was so glad I did. I'll never get that time back!

I left feeling very underwhelmed and disappointed by the whole spectacle. The plots, of which there appear to be several, where all over the place and never developed or really concluded. The character designs didn't do it for me either.

Paul mentioned the depth of 'Pinocchio' and the respect for kids' intelligence and I completely agree. Dreamworks haven't really grasped this since the days of 'Prince of Egypt'.

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acme
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I did finally see it as well. I thought the 3d was enjoyable and not too over the top. As a whole enjoyed the movie. Like mentioned before I felt it was not as good as KFP. I did leave feeling satisfied with it.


For me the power of a good story makes me forget about what ever technology is being used anyway. In fact I have had it work wonders with movies and bad technology even. On a few occasions I have watched great movies on poorly transferred dvd's. Of course I notice how bad it is when it first starts. As soon as the story gets rolling I am pulled in and don't even think about the quality.

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