By Courteney Merritt

In DreamWorks’ latest contribution to the 3D animation genre, they set out to spoof super-hero movies in Megamind. To some degree, they are successful. The animation is somewhat reminiscent of The Incredibles, but instead of presenting a predictable, linear tale where good triumphs over evil, this flick takes a different route.

Set against his sardonic voiceover, Megamind (voiced to comedic perfection by Will Ferrell) recounts how his parents sent their blue, bulbous-headed baby to earth in a capsule to escape their crumbling home planet, with the endorsement that he was “destined for…” Destined for what? Not hearing the last part, the boy naturally assumed he was destined for greatness, only to find that fate awaited another baby whose parents had the same idea. Blessed with the “ability to fly, invincibility and great hair,” the boy that would later grow up to be Metro Man (Brad Pitt channeling Elvis) proves to be his arch nemesis from an early age, while hapless Metromind winds up in prison serving 85 life sentences and decides to embrace his evil side…in the most good-natured way imaginable of course.

The first twist that occurs and shows the audience this isn’t a run of the mill superhero flick occurs when Megamind kills Metro Man. He is then at a loss as to what to do with himself. Deciding his life lacks purpose without an enemy, he sets out to create another “hero ” but inadvertently selects dorky news cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill.)  Like most of his nefarious plots, this backfires. His hero turns into an anti-hero, thus usurping the role Megamind had previously occupied and posing a dilemma as Megamind must decide whether to use his powers for good or evil.

Whereas small doses of live-action Will Ferrell go a long way, in animated form he is imminently likeable and completely sympathetic as the misfit struggling to find his purpose in life. Much like Steve Carrell in Despicable Me, it is easy to root for the odd looking bad guy.  Tina Fey rounds out the lead roles as plucky reporter Roxanne Richey, who enjoys a nice chemistry with Megamind in a romantic subplot (if chemistry can be had by animated characters.) And David Cross scores an amusing assist as Minion, Megamind’s fishy childhood companion.

The animation is top-notch with plenty of impressive special effects, but first time solo director Tom McGrath (who previously cut his teeth co-helming the Madagascar franchise), struggles a little under the weight of such an ambitious venture.  The action is at its strongest when employing the humorous  elements, however the pace starts to drag around the midpoint due to the repetitive and preachy nature of the good vs. evil theme, as the action loses sight of its comedic roots. Children in the audience grew restless, while most of the laughs tended to emanate from adult audience members.  One of the funnier plot points is the homage to Superman’s dad Jor-El in the character of Space Dad, enhanced by Will Ferrell’s Marlon Brando impression, but this will be lost on young viewers.

This is a strong showing from DreamWorks, but McGrath didn’t manage to accomplish what Pixar has mastered (and Shrek to a lesser extent) by peppering the piece with plenty of humor with crossover appeal to all ages.  Nonetheless, the movie will probably fare well at the box office, and perhaps might even have garnered some awards if Toy Story 3 hadn’t been released the same year.