Megamind was saddled with being the second of two animated movies in 2010 about a super-villain who isn’t necessarily as bad as he seems. Following in the footsteps of Despicable Me, it seems to have suffered slightly in comparison. That’s silly, though, since it’s an enjoyable, funny, and well-made movie in its own right.
It’s ain’t easy being blue. The baby that grows up to be a super-villain, Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) was shot out of a rocket as his planet was about to blow up. Unfortunately, at the same time, the parents of the future superhero Metro Man (Brad Pitt) are shooting him towards Earth just as their planet is also set to blow (what are the odds!). The relationship between Megamind and Metro Man sets the stage for an animated action/comedy that discusses two issues not usually covered in superhero movies. First, what happens when the villain wins? And second, can we choose our life paths or do we have to fill the role expected of us?
Heavy, right? Not so much. The questions are covered in the course of a brightly colored, well-animated, and very funny story about Megamind’s almost accidental destruction of the Superman-like Metro Man, and the aftermath of that action. Ferrell, who has had a string of stink bombs recently, is in top vocal form as the villain who mispronounces key words (including the name of the city he lives in) and brings a sharp delivery to some excellent lines from writers Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons. He’s aided not only by the straight-man lines of Pitt’s Metro Man, but Tina Fey as the worldly news gal Roxanne Ritchie, Jonah Hill as her cameraman and future superhero Tighten, and David Cross as a fish with a robot body (you sorta have to see it) who serves Megamind as his Minion.
The early story, dealing with Megamind’s boredom after defeating Metro Man, is not particularly fresh, but things really pick up when it becomes clear that Megamind can choose to be a different person if he really wants to. That opportunity doesn’t just bring about the usual personality shift, but more of a crisis of how we decide to be the person that we are. That’s a little heavy for the kiddos to grasp, so they’ll just like the fighting, joking, zooming, and other standard animated superhero fare. But, there’s a bit more working under the surface of this one than you’d get in something like Madagascar, also directed by Tom McGrath.
While most will be drawn to the movie by the voice talent (very A-listy), the real draw is the script, the fun look of the film, the slightly deeper plot, and the truly funny lines that flow off the tongues of Ferrell, Cross, Fey, and Hill. It doesn’t have the overall weighty impact or quality of, say, The Incredibles, but neither is it a nitwit parade of crotch-punching jokes and Ferrell’s “funny” voices. The real humanity and self-doubt in Megamind is brought out well by Ferrell, and it boosts this up from the usual Ice Age-type crapola.
I was really leery about this movie based on Ferrell’s recent track record. His reported guest stint on The Office does not fill me with good feelings like it might have a few years back. That said, he’s perfect for the blue baddie/goodie in Megamind, and he’s given a lot of funny stuff to say. He also is ably supported by an excellent supporting cast, good lines, and interesting animation. Overall, this is one of the better animated films of the last year.
Megamind did just peachy at the box office, and the Blu-ray release is equal to its popularity. There are a plethora of extras, although you’ll start to notice the complete absence of Brad Pitt in any of them. The set includes a version of the film on Blu-ray and DVD, but no digital copy, which is a bummer. The visuals are well served by the Blu-ray copy, which really pops. It’s a top-notch transfer, as would be expected.
There are two commentary options. One is the usual voiceover commentary provided by the director, two writers, and two producers. Seems like overkill, but they provide an interesting spectrum of information. The second way to get a commentary plus more is with the “Animator’s Corner” function. This is a picture-in-picture feature that either shows the same five people doing their commentary or shows pencil tests, character art, storyboards, or brief clips of animators or actors talking about characters or scenes. It sounds like the same commentary track, but I can’t be 100% sure. Either way, it’s better to listen to the "Animator’s Corner," as it provides more and you get the behind-the-scenes clips as well.
There is a 15-minute short staring Megamind called “The Button of Doom.” While the animation isn’t quite as sharp as you get in the feature (especially with the extras), it retains most of the humor and action from the film. Will Ferrell and David Cross return, and the plot covers a battle between Megamind and one of his old inventions that is set to destroy Metro City. The length of the extra makes it a pretty nice addition, since it seems like these usually run about half as long.
A couple behind-the-scenes featurettes give a basic view of the filmmaking process. One is “Meet the Cast” and the other is “Visit Megamind’s Lair.” At about eight minutes each, you see many of the things you’d see in a basic making-of extra. The cast one is full of “Boy, these guys are so funny, we’re so lucky” and the like, but I guess since they are pretty funny, it’s true, if not original. The “Lair” extra is a bit of a misnomer, as it shows the creation of the Lair, but also discusses the creation of the Megamind character in total.
For art nerds, there are four galleries of Megamind art that you can peruse to your heart’s content. Also, one of the story editors spends nearly 15 minutes on how to draw the Megamind character. I mean, that’s a long-ass time, and he is very detailed. I’m not sure anyone besides an artist would be interested in watching, but you do see how much detail has to go into an animation drawing. Rounding out the “artsy” items is a Megamind Video Comic Book that’s pretty boring but has bold drawings, and something called “AnimationMan,” which shows animators acting out scenes for two minutes as reference points for their animation.
The extras are rounded out by a one-minute deleted scene, a truly horrible Megamind Rap song, and a game to spot the difference between two pictures that look similar. The box states there are four games, but it must be because there are different levels on the one game, as I couldn’t find any others. Overall, this is an excellent presentation of the movie and well worth picking up.