What happens if, in the superhero universe, the bad guy wins? What follows the victory of the evil? This idea has been done before -- my favorite is the Astro City comic book story "Show 'Em All" -- and it's given the kiddie treatment in Megamind, the latest movie from DreamWorks Animation.

In a thinly-veiled take on the Superman mythos, two aliens are sent to Earth from doomed planets. Metro Man (Brad Pitt) lands in the home of a rich family, has powers like Superman, and gains the adoration of everyone, from his fellow students when young to the people of Metro City -- not to mention plucky reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey).

Then there's Megamind (Will Ferrell). This blue-skinned, large-headed alien landed in and was raised in a prison, was constantly overshadowed by Metro Man, and his only friend was a talking fish named Minion (David Cross). Megamind created elaborate mechanical devices (including a robot-gorilla body for Minion) and began a series of failed attacks on Metro Man ("He would win some, I would almost win others!") that often involved kidnapping Roxanne.

Until, to the surprise of everyone, one of Megamind's deathtraps works, leaving Metro Man's smoldering skeleton behind. Megamind easily takes over Metro City, which is fun at first but soon leaves him bored. He realizes that victory without an opponent is meaningless, so he gives Metro Man's powers to Hal (Jonah Hill), Roxanne's cameraman who's creepily obsessed with her. Naturally, things don't work out as planned...
If the above was the full plot of Megamind, this would have been a far better movie than it is. Unfortunately, the movie gets bogged down in several plots in its second half: a romantic story between Megamind and Roxanne, a friends-fighting story between Megamind and Minion, and even Megamind's discovery of how non-heroic Hal (superhero name: Titan) is gets stretched out. And the central question of victorious evil gets the kiddie treatment for the taregted young audience.

The voice talent here is... okay. Will Ferrell has a lot of fun as the egotistic megalomaniac villain who can't see that he's always on the losing side, and Tina Fey is quite good as the reporter who's never helpless and is the only one aware of the repeating patterns in this world. Conversely, there's nothing interesting or noteworthy about the voicework of Pitt, Cross, or Hill here.
As for in-jokes for comic book fans, the only real thing is a weak Marlon Brando impression, parodying Superman. The action is okay, neither boring nor all that exciting. Megamind should have been more interesting with its villain-as-protagonist premise, but it turns out to be just another kids' movie.

Overall grade: C
Reviewed by James Lynch

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