Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"Monsters vs. Aliens" is possibly the most commercial title of the year. How can you resist such a premise, especially if it's in 3-D animation? Very readily, in my case. I will say this first and get it out of the way: 3-D is a distraction and an annoyance. Younger moviegoers may think they like it because they've been told to, and picture quality is usually far from their minds. But for anyone who would just like to be left alone to see the darned thing, like me, it's a constant nudge in the ribs saying never mind the story, just see how neat I look.
The film was made in Tru3D, the DreamWorks process that has been hailed by honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg as the future of the cinema. It is better than most of the 3-D I've seen (it doesn't approach the work on "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf"). But if this is the future of movies for grownups and not just the kiddies, saints preserve us. Billions of people for a century have happily watched 2-D and imagined 3-D. Think of the desert in "Lawrence of Arabia." The schools of fish in "Finding Nemo." The great hall in "Citizen Kane."
Now that flawless screen surface is threatened with a gimmick, which, let's face it, is intended primarily to raise ticket prices and make piracy more difficult. If its only purpose was artistic, do you think Hollywood would spend a dime on it? The superb MaxiVision process is available for $15,000 a screen, and the Hollywood establishment can't even be bothered to look at it. Why invest in the technology of the future when they can plunder the past?
Speaking of the past, "Monsters vs. Aliens" retreads some of the monsters that starred in actual 1950s B movies: a blob, the 50-Foot Woman and no end of aliens with towering foreheads on their dome-shaped heads. Whether the average kid will get all of the connections is beside the point; if kids could accept Pokemon and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, these monsters are going to seem like masterpieces of manic personality.