I am not a big fan of Pixar productions, for the prime and simple reason that, like most western cartoons, and particularly like their Masters at Disney, they are overbearingly misogynist. Well, not as much as Disney itself, which I contend employs a misogynator, a special staff member whose job is running around the creative department butchering any scene or plot which threatens to represent women in a good light. But Pixar comes a close second, ensuring that, for example, in Monsters Inc the only female characters are a jealous clingy bimbo or an old hag. Their stories are also transparently boys-own-adventures, not aimed at or even thinking about potential girl viewers. For one or two movies this is bearable, but when you start to see the pattern, it becomes a real turn-off. Particularly compared to Studio Ghibli.

This is not true for Dreamworks, though I grant you I’m not that familiar with their work and Antz was certainly a shocking piece of (how come woody allen gets to do nothing but whine and squeal, and then gets credit for everything at the end?) But Shrek ran a very fine line in girl-targeted viewing, as well as being an excellent adventure and really funny. Monsters vs. Aliens is a similar type of movie, but with an even more transparently girl-power storyline, and applying the genre-bending fun-and-games of Shrek to science-fiction and horror movies.

Genre-bending is of course an excellent way to make a childrens’ movie fun for adults, and this movie is no exception. I think it has a nod to every major sci-fi ever made, as well as some cool references to anime, old-school Japanese monster movies, and some b-grade horror references. I’m sure insectosaurus starts off as a weird insecty totoro, which is a perfect nod to Miyazaki’s most famous 2 movies. There are also visual moments – such as when the lead character is hanging from the bottom of the alien ship – which are obviously nods to screen captures from famous movies. And the whole thing has a liberating feeling of empowerment and joy. The final message is even positive, which I can’t say I thought of the original Shrek movie[1]. The first half of this movie is unrelentingly funny, as well.

My flatmate, who is a computer graphics researcher but doesn’t have his own blog (wtf omg) tells me that Pixar’s animation is slightly more sophisticated. Well, I don’t know much about animation, but I know what I like, and I prefer my animation to be at least 10% non-sexist, so I can’t bear Pixar anymore (and what was with the rat-in-the-soup movie anyway?) In any case, there were scenes in this movie which were art, sweety-dahling, even if they weren’t perfectly animated (not that I could have noticed, my eyes have a 3 fps limit). And the key to a good animation is not the animation, anyway, but the plot and the action sequences. This is why Castle of Cagliostro is better than Toy Story

Anyway, having padded out this post with a whole series of obviously completely subjective comparisons of “A is better than B so nyaaaah I’m right!”[3], I should finish by recommending this movie highly. Go and see it, especially if you like sci-fi genre-bending.

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[1] Shrek claims to have a moral that even the ugliest person is beautiful to someone, but this isn’t strictly true. What it actually says is that if you are of the same race or class as another ugly person, they will find you pretty because they are cosmologically designed to, even if to everyone else you are a butt-ugly troll. The princess’s ugliness was an objective fact to the viewer, it just so happened that the lead character is not human, so has different standards. This isn’t quite as nasty an ending as the Breakfast Club[2], which has to be the most misinterpreted and deceitful ending in cinema.

[2] which, how the fuck can anyone think this movie has a positive ending? Halfway through the movie the nerdy kid predicts that on monday everyone will go back to being themselves, and pretend the weekend never happened, which is exactly what happens, except that the gothy girl pulls the jock and so therefore throws away her gothiness, which was all just an act until she could get in with the popular crowd. This is treachery on so many levels, particularly because you’re led to believe that the nerdy kid was going to be wrong until the very end, when the writer sticks the knife in and twists.

[3] It’s an internet movie review kids, what were you expecting, deconstructionist marxism?