Empire donned a pair of flash new 3-D specs (not the dorky red and blue ones you used to find in Shreddies packets, but Kissinger-style black frames) and joined Jeffrey Katzenberg and a select audience for a thrilling world-first look at Monsters Vs. Aliens, DreamWorks Animation's latest foray into the third dimension. We were treated to three clips from the upcoming film, which managed to impress each and every member of the office. We can't convery the full marvel of three-dimensional carnage and do it justice but you can read an old fashioned 2D account of the footage below.
Glorious 3-D plunges us into a whirligig of Apache attack 'copters, tanks and squadrons of F-18s, as a giant, evil-eyed alien probe and what looks like most of the US military warily size each other up across a desert vista. The scene's set-up is a pastiche of Mars Attacks! which technically makes it a pastiche of a pastiche, or Pastiche².
The US President - voiced by satirist Stephen Colbert with pomposity cranked up to 11 - emerges from the White House helicopter, flanked by a phalanx of Secret Service agents, and heads up a long set of stairs to address the extra-terrestrial face to, er, eye. The Pres uses a Casio keyboard to communicate with the probe in a lovely riff off Close Encounters. Unfortunately, the musical address only fires up the dormant probe, and with giant legs sprouting from its sides, it sets about reducing the US military to pancake.
Narrowly avoiding a squashing himself, the President screams to his generals ("Do something violent!") before hurling himself into his chopper and beating a hasty retreat. The army duly obliges, launching an arsenal of missiles and shells which explode harmlessly against the alien pod's deflector shield, Independence Day-style. As you may have noticed, there's one or two alien-landing riffs in the scene. Sadly no sign of a Na-Nu Na-Nu-ing Robin Williams.
The action switches to the War Room where the President and his cabinet scratch their heads over a solution to the stomping alien probe. Cue: General W.R. Monger, voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, who reveals a long-secret military facility housing the ultimate weapon: four terrifying B movie monsters, as well as Susan (Reese Witherspoon), who was covered by a meteor's 'unidentified space goo' on her wedding day and transformed into a 50-foot bridezilla.
The action switches to a cell in Monger's secret military facility. The giant Susan (or Ginormica, to give her correct monster name) is sleeping, still dreaming of honeymoons. As a klaxon sounds, Susan's bed is suddenly folded into the wall, transforming her cell into an elevator which drops at great speed, much to her terror...
When the cell/lift judders to a halt, one of its wall rises, opening onto a vast concrete chamber into which Susan cautiously peers. She inches into the room and we hear a voice whisper, "the new monster is only a giant pair of legs!" but all that sits in the chamber is a table surrounded by chairs. One is of normal size, dwarfed by others of Monster Ikea-proportions. As Susan scans the room, she unwittingly steps on the smaller one, reducing it to tangled metal.
Suddenly, a tube descends from the ceiling high above, depositing a large dollop of what looks like cold porridge onto the table, followed by a giant spoon. There's a scurrying noise and the antennae of a cockroach appear from behind the gruel. Unaware that this one of her new allies, the Hugh Laurie-voiced Dr. Cockroach, Susan takes the spoon to the bug, narrowly missing its outsized head. "Careful! This magnificent brain of mine will be in the Smithsonian one day," shouts the brilliant-yet-conceited insect.
Dr. Cockroach is joined by the other monsters that emerge from their pens: B.O.B (Seth Rogen), a bright blue, gelatinous eating-machine; The Missing Link, half ape, half fish; and Insectosaurus, a furry, super-sized grub weaned on parts of Tokyo. The Missing Link expresses disappointment at Susan's appearance, grumbling, "I was hoping for a wolfman."
It’s finally time for the misfit band of monsters to take on the seemingly invincible alien probe and prove their mettle. Susan warily searches an eerily evacuated San Francisco for the metal menace, before it steps out from its hiding place and battle commences.
Even at her size she’s dwarfed by the probe and is quickly forced into retreat — using two abandoned cars as makeshift rollerskates to amp up her velocity, while dodging vehicles and billboards that the probe flings at her. Meanwhile, the slimy B.O.B. swims through the sewer system and pops up out of a manhole onto a street, where he joins The Missing Link and Dr. Cockroach in a souped-up tram (Dr. Cockroach has strapped a rocket onto each side). Cue some high-speed carnage, as the alien probe chases our heroes onto the Golden Gate Bridge.
Reminiscent of the heroes-versus- Omnidroid fight in The Incredibles, this sequence contained some of the most impressive 3-D moments — cars plunging into the raging ocean, Dr. Cockroach throwing himself into the probe’s churning inner mechanism (“Nothing can hurt a cockroach!”) and the mammoth Insectosaurus going on the rampage before getting hypnotised by the probe’s short-circuiting eye.
Katzenberg promises, though, that this is only a taste of the movie’s action. “The probe is just one thing that the alien watching from space has in store for Earth. There are plenty more surprises.”
According to Katzenberg, the new 3-D is to its polaroid predecessor what the sportscar is to the bicycle. Empire has officially chucked its bike in the bushes.