Movies: Megamind * * *
(PG, General release)
In these post-Pixar days, no animated feature can afford to be unfunny. Megamind -- a close relation of The Incredibles and the more recent Despicable Me -- certainly pushes the boat out on the comedy front, and while in that respect it ends up trying a little too hard, it has a number of other things going for it.
One is some beautiful and impressively detailed computer animation, another is a nice twist on the usual superhero story.
Richard Donner's Superman is the most obvious inspiration for the film, and in a prologue we see a small blue baby being placed in a pod as his home planet crumbles.
This is Megamind, who ends up falling to Earth in Metro City, where he finds an extraterrestrial rival in Metro Man. While Metro Man landed on his feet and was raised by a wealthy couple, Megamind lands in the middle of a federal prison where the inmates teach him how to be a villain.
Metro Man grows up to become a square-jawed but rather smug superhero; Megamind his Lex Luthor-like nemesis. They do battle regularly in the skies above Metro City, and everything is going swimmingly until Megamind accidentally kills Metro Man.
Initially, he is euphoric, and takes over the city with his faithful companion Minion, a chatty fish with a bad overbite who lives in a fishbowl that allows it to control a computerised body.
But when the days begin to drag, Megamind realises that evil and good need to be in constant opposition, and sets out to create a new superhero -- with disastrous consequences.
A fine voice cast includes Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Tina Fey, and there are plenty of funny moments. The script, though, is sometimes so laden down with pop references that it undermines your interest in the story, and Megamind is less original than its Pixar rivals. It is, however, nicely entertaining and quite beautifully made.