DreamWorks Animation

Review in a Hurry: In the wicked-fun Megamind, our titular evildoer (Will Ferrell) suffers an existential crisis after destroying his nemesis, hero Metro Man (Brad Pitt). This 3-D, animated adventure leaps—in a single bound—into familiar comic-book/superhero territory but soars on the strength of zippy running gags and high-flying visuals.

The Bigger Picture: Never mind Megamind's similarities to this past summer's Despicable Me—an arch villain who changes his evil ways and has a kooky sidekick named Minion, etc. The galaxy is big enough for another superhero spoof, especially one with plenty of laughs and mega-octane action.

Bulbous-headed baddie Megamind and caped crusader Metro Man have been lifelong rivals, ever since they were rocketed to Earth as infants and reared in wildly different environments (Nature vs. nurture? Discuss!). After years of thwarted plots and lost battles, bumbling Megamind finally succeeds in killing Metro City's preening protector.

Now with no enemy to fight, Megamind—who resembles a Smurfified version of a Mars Attacks! alien—finds life dull and pointless. So he creates a new hero by injecting Metro Man's DNA into schlubby-tubby cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill). When Hal's superpowered alter ego starts destroying Metro City, Megamind suddenly has to play the good guy—and he just might get the girl, too, newscaster Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey).

Yes, Megamind has all the manic energy and goofy antics you'd expect from DreamWorks Animation—and it sneaks in funny pop-culture references, thankfully without hitting overload—but the pic also shows its smarts with inventive plot turns and an overarching theme about identity and masks, not just the superhero kind.

The visuals are vibrant and superbly utilize 3-D technology—in flashy, well-staged action sequences as well as in deeply composed shots during quieter moments.

In one of his better roles in years, Ferrell nimbly shifts between Megamind's numerous personas, including a hilarious take on Marlon Brando's Jor-El from Superman. He also makes this malapropism-spewing megalomaniac a lovable, sympathetic figure, especially in interactions with Fey's spunky Roxanne.

See, Megamind's not bad; he's just drawn that way.

The 180—a Second Opinion: For those with vertigo and/or a fear of heights, all the swooping shots and free-falls from high-rises will have you reaching for a mega-size barf bag.

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