Dreamworks may finally have made an animated film that rivals Pixar in its quality. I am not a Shrek fan, so let me state that right away. Their latest effort, “Monsters vs. Aliens”, is a side-splitting winner. The film is quite clever in its premise. Reese Witherspoon stars as Susan, a normal California woman who is hit by a glowing meteor on her wedding day. Instead of smashing her into a pulp, she absorbs the meteor’s power and mushrooms into a fifty foot version of herself with super strength. She is tranquilized by the U.S. military and sent to languish away in a prison built to hold monsters – the fish-like ‘Missing Link’ (Will Arnett), the gelatinous blob ‘Bob’ (Seth Rogan), the insect man ‘Dr. Cockroach’ (Hugh Laurie), and a giant caterpillar that squeaks.

Meanwhile, in the far reaches of the Galaxy, the evil ‘Gallaxhar’ (Rainn Wilson), has tracked the power of the glowing meteor to Earth. He sends a giant robot to recover it and destroy everything in its path. When the U.S. military finds it has nothing that can fight this robot. They decide to give the monsters, led by Susan who has been codenamed ‘Ginormica’, a chance to win their freedom by saving earth, hence the aptly named title - Monsters vs. Aliens.

The film is hilarious. It works well as a comedy and children’s movie. The big surprise is that it has double theme of female empowerment and acceptance of the others. This social message is slickly delivered in the context of the film and is not preachy at all. I think many young children will learn from this film without even realizing they’re being taught something. And that is a tremendous achievement by the filmmakers.

I saw this film in IMAX 3D. It was intense, so intense I thought my eyes were going to explode in my head. They do a great job with the 3D and the animation, but the movie is bright with a lot of big action scenes. I did experience eye fatigue watching it. I normally recommend seeing everything in IMAX, but this is one better served on a regular screen without the 3D effects.

Monsters Vs. Aliens is out March 19, 2009.

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