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CGIFeature Film

Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs Aliens

DreamWorks has released the first latest official image from their March 2009 feature Monsters vs. Aliens. It’s hardly groundbreaking visually, but the simple fact that a DreamWorks publicity still doesn’t make me want to claw my eyes out is cause for celebration. I’ve been hearing the same whispers on this film that I have for nearly every other DreamWorks feature: at first, it was that the artists were getting a chance to really show themselves, and more recently, that it’s being watered down. What’ll end up on the screen is anybody’s guess but this image at least offers a glimmer of hope.

There’s an accompanying article in today’s USA Today about Monsters vs. Aliens, in which Jeffrey Katzenberg says that to avoid confusion between 3-D computer animation and stereoscopic 3-D, he’s going to begin calling stereoscopic animation “the Ultimate 3-D.”

(via Cooked Art)

  • Travis Gentry

    It’s funny that they had to clone Pixar character designs to get to that level of non-eyeball scraping. The female character looks like Elastigirl and Mirage mixed into one, same style of eyes, mouth, face shape, everything. That slime creature is almost blatant copy from Lifted. At least the swamp creature looks somewhat unique, when you take away the Sully similarities. OK well the giant Furby thing is definitely a Dreamworks original…

  • Floyd Norman

    What the heck! It’s funny.

    I grabbed a look over at DreamWorks, and I liked what a saw. Very refreshing, if you ask me.

  • Paul N

    Glad I’m not the only one who saw Pixar influences in the image.

  • Richard

    Looks like s**t!!! Plastic, fake, and not designed well. Not the designer’s fault. The studio is a joke…hopefully Kung Fu Panda will be good…it looks terrific!!

  • MattSullivan

    Dreamworks has always had a problem creating decent human characters. The closest they got was Over The Hedge, but those weren’t even the main characters.

    If I were running Dreamworks, I’d have a single department dedicated ONLY to human design. Because it needs work. The monsters…eh…not bad…not bad at all. They actually look okay. But the Gill Man from MONSTER SQUAD looks a lot better than the big lipped fishy guy in the picture.

    Dunno. I’ll have to see the movie before I can really judge it.

  • Albert

    Didn’t know Elastigirl had a sister, and I’m not sure how I feel about a non-Pixar studio doing an Incredibles spin-off.

    ….wait, you mean this ISN’T supposed to be a direct rip of a character design? Weird.

  • Whut?

    Monsters vs. Aliens…oh wait plus a girl human. Why? Watch Alien vs. Predator 1.

    Plus with an idea like Monsters vs Aliens why do you have to have the one eyed blob condom, an insect, and a monkey mixed with Mer-Man from He-man? Stuff we could all just make. I hate that things lip, looks like it gets infected by expired fried clams and farts disease on everything. The retarded bat gerbil seems to be the only thing that survived the “artist let loose” claim. Artist let loose at Dreamworks? Yeah right.

    Way to go Jeff Kat…you’ve coined Ultimate 3D. Wow creative. And it’s totally lame and I hope useless. 3-D can stay 3-D and society will learn to intuitively tell the difference and actually get smart for once. I’m gonna go take an Ultimate poo now.

  • Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends:The Musical? So they ran out of CG money and could only afford to make Blooreguard a cyclops? Ahhh Dreamworks, cuttin’ corners as usual!

  • Does this really look like a “rip-off” the “Pixar-style”? Should any studio really stick to a certain style on every film, especially studios jam-packed with artists and cash? Is there at least a small chance that most of the big budget American features look/sound/feel alike anyways, far more so than any other area of filmmaking? Is this a symptom of a broken creative field?

    Sure this looks like a Pixar film. Pixar films look like Pixar films and sometimes that’s not always so inspiring either. Ratatouille was beautiful, but I’d be 10 times the Pixar fan I am now if only Bird’s new feature set during a San Francisco earthquake was something they’d ever let him do in animation. There needs to be more than one great studio in this country and more than one way to make an animated movie when you’re flush with cash.

  • Quiet_Desperation

    I’ll wait and see on this one with an open mind, but the new WALL-E trailer is stomping Monsters Vs Aliens squarely in the balls. And if you think Pixar is stuck in a “look” go see the WALL-E trailer. Holy crap!

    PS: You know, it was a while before I noticed the woman’s hand touching the building. Seriously, I thought the monsters in front were tiny little guys. :-)

  • tom

    I saw this earlier today, and just wasn’t moved. It looks better than Shrek, true. That’s not a difficult thing to achieve, given the staff and budget. Since there are SO many talented artists at DW, I’d have to say that the general awfulness of their product must lie with an extremely dull edged management team, hiring slow-pitch directors and producers who do naught but dilute the efforts of a solid group of creative, funny people. These folks are responsible for the Big Star school of animation voice casting, too.

    Also: Seth Rogen should stop now, while he’s ahead. Take some time, pick some projects. His slate of upcoming films is questionable to say the least. Will Arnett is a made man, working his way from Arrested Development through Ratatouille, so I’m at least optimistic some of this might work. Ditto Hugh Laurie and Stephen Colbert, who has been a funny and effective voice actor in a number of great television cartoon projects, including the Venture Bros. first two seasons.

  • That bug thing on her shoulder looks EXACTLY like the little cockroach minion from Bluth’s “AMERICAN TALE” Fievel film.

    I love love love that ridiculous looking bug eyed rodent in the backround though. I want to squeeze it and see if it’s eyes explode nasty mucous fluids everywhere. :D

  • droosan

    Pixar..? Foster’s..?

    I sorta see it, I guess .. but the first thing that jumped out to me, is that these are classic 1950’s movie monsters: the Blob and Creature from the Black Lagoon in the foreground, the 50-Foot Woman with the Fly in the mid-ground, and .. (well, I’m not sure what the analogy is for the giant critter in the backgound). Assuming the invading aliens are likewise patterned after 1950’s ‘flying-saucer’ flicks, I’m officially intrigued, and actually looking forward to it.

    But then again, I’ve actually honestly enjoyed most of DreamWorks animated features, just as much as I’ve enjoyed the films from Disney, Pixar, Blue Sky, Warner Bros, etc ..

  • If I hadn’t seen this look many, many times before (usually in Pixar books where I’m already well bored of it), I might actually quite like it.

    I’m reminded of the downfall of 2D movies. The problem was actually that everyone was trying to mimic Disney movies, something Disney itself were doing too (yeah, they can mimic their own movies). So every goddam 2D movie felt like an inferior copy of what had gone before it.

    3D became the new thing when Toy Story hit but the problem was never the lack of a third D. The problem was the dull, dull films.

    3D movies are pretty much the same now. Everybody is making Pixar movies. And, as good as they are at crafting an entertaining if formulaic film, even Pixar themselves seem to be just churning the same stuff out.

    It’s cannibalisation and will kill that type of movie until someone comes along with something a little different. And so a new bandwagon appears and the cycle begins again.

    This is just a Pixar image. And it bores me.

  • droosan

    Now that I’ve read the USA Today article, I see my first impression was pretty much correct ..

    As far as Katzenberg’s claim that Monsters vs. Aliens will be the FIRST animated feature to be conceived in ‘3-D’ (or, excuse me, ‘Ultimate 3-D’) .. wasn’t the 3-D version of Meet the Robinsons crafted simultaneously with the ‘flat’ version..?

  • Marcus

    Wow, a lot of hating going on here. I don’t think it looks particularly ‘Pixary’ nor do I think it’s something Dreamworks should be aspiring to anyway – Pixar’s designs are nothing special at all in my opinion, it’s the character put into them through animation that makes them shine.

    I’m not going to judge Monsters vs. Aliens based on a single concept image.

  • hans bacher

    I am very surprised that anybody with a bit of a taste left is discussing that s**t. it’s really a shame that so many resources, artists, some brains, lots of energy (I mean electricity) is being trashed to produce ‘nothing’.

  • Mat

    I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks that this looks very derivative of Pixar’s stuff.

  • I like it.

  • Steph’

    I’m disappointed with these designs. With the awesome potential of the concept of “monsters vs aliens”, these don’t cut it, just on the basis of “they don’t look like they would make fun toys”. There are some things when you first see the design, you say “Cool! I want that toy!”– whether the movie stinks or not. These designs don’t have that going for me.

  • Brian Kidd

    Is it just me, or does the giant monster look like a Totoro on a speedball?

    I’m not going to completely judge the film based solely on a still, but Dreamworks has yet to impress me. Ever.

  • Rhett Wickham

    For over a decade, I have wanted, truly and deeply yearned for a DreamWorks feature that was original, creative, and exciting. “Prince of Egypt” delivered. Since then the films have struck me as either being snarky and one note or desperately seeking to play catch-up with concepts and themes better realized elsewhere (and more often than not, some time earlier.)
    I don’t blame the artists, directors, animators or editors. I do blame Jeffrey and a handfull of other sycophants endorsing his approach from within.

    I want to see this film, and I will gladly support it by shelling out the extra cash to enjoy Jeffrey Katzenberg Presents His Amazing and Stupendous Wave of the Future Super Duper Better Than Your Average Movie Three-D Wow-o-Rama Uber Experiential Thingy That Will Change The World …. anyway, honest, I want to see it with an open mind. It looks fun. It will most likely be funny at times, and a good deal of the animation will likely be superb.

    That said, it can still be pretty hard to fall in love with a concept, theme, design and tone that screams “Monsters Inc.” and humans who scream “The Incredibles” and the hip satirical nod to fifties sci-fi that is little more than a hollow echo of “Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles.”

    Jeffrey Katzenberg led the charge for change and challenge on the playing field in the modern era. He helped Disney (although I’d argue that he didn’t “save” Disney the way he’d like to believe he did) and he built a great new studio and populated it with amazing talent (artistic talent…management and creative leadership at the production level has been iffy, at best) and he’s a sincere and true champion of animation. But I cannot help feeling that even now DreamWorks still needs somebody with authentic vision, somebody outside the Barnum box, to make this great studio with amazing talent deliver on its promise. More producers like Bonnie Arnold would help, and fewer star-struck live action producers would be even better).
    Until then, I have to remember something I read recently (was it here?) that no matter how many times the commoner points out that the Emperor has no clothes, the fact remains that he’s still just a commoner and the Emperor, naked though he may be, is still the Emperor.

  • Only reason I’m not clawing my eyes out is through the apathy and indifference this generates within me.

    Not sure why it’s billed as the ‘first official image’. Its about the third that I’ve seen under not-very-secret circumstances, and it shows that the film has clearly not gone in the intriguing direction those other images suggested. oh well.

    As for the Incredibles character merge, clearly the inevitable result of comitee design. I’m certain there are many artists at Dreamworks and the other studios, perfectly capable of modeling decent human models. But I’m also certain that the number of levels of filtering one has to go through to get a human character approved, are tenfold those required for a cycloptic blob. Its exactly the sort of thing you can imagine *everyone* having an opinion on!

  • Sean

    Haha, I bet the monster on the bottom right will be the “black man character.” Who’s going to do the voice this time around? Eddie Murphy again? Chris Tucker? Oh Dreamworks, what would I do without you?

  • FP

    Without knowing anything about this movie until now, my first response is WOW COOL. The above image immediately evokes the Trapper-Keeper episode of SOUTH PARK.

  • Ed J.

    The image does look a bit kluged together, but I’d agree with Amid: less eyeball scratching than usual. Conrad Vernon is directing, so at the very least it should be funny and entertaining as hell. Let’s hope jeffery just stays out of his FREAKIN’ way.

  • Adam

    So wait…

    Which are the monsters, and which are the aliens? They’re all facing the same way. I don’t understand the ‘vs.’ element of this concept.

    I guess the blue guy looks like an alien, and the 50ft woman is a monster, since she’s of Earth. The others could go either way.

    The only thing that tells me to expect some kind of conflict is the jet planes. But they’re piloted by humans, neither the aliens nor the monsters of the title.

  • Brad Constantine

    I got a new catch phrase for Mr. Katzenberg..
    better than “Tra-digital” anyway…

  • red pill junkie

    “Totoro on a speedball”, LOL!

    Thanks for that Brian Kidd :-)

    Oh! and about the picture? Well, maybe it could improve with a change of colors and lighting you know? to make it FEEL more like a 1950’s B-Movie. That’s my 2 cents anyhoo ;-)

  • I dig it. Anyone else get a tinge of Glen Barr ( feel to this? especially the girl, bg and color choices? Which would be appropriate since he references the 50s a ton…

    I’m betting the lagoon monster does the fart joke and the blue monster does the slow-mo shot in the future trailer… any takers?

  • Kevin Martinez

    I just want so say I really really like this art. The aliens/monsters’ designs are weird yet at the same time appealing (the giant hamster thing in the background being my favorite of the bunch).

    If this is the Pixar meets Mystery Science Theater 3000-grade 50’s creature feature gone bananas that I hope it will be, I just might list it as my favorite movie ever.

  • Daniel M.

    Thinking that making disclaimers like ‘Theres a lot of talented arists at DW BUT…’ doesnt make it easier for artists to read these comments. Those talented people who are designing these characters did at one point actually design these characters to look the way they do, JK doesnt stand over shoulders telling them every move to make.

    If you guys had an ounce of respect for the artists at these studios, you would hold off on the constant negativity. The only thing these comment driven posts do is alienate the artists your talking about and give up any bit of ground your ignorant statements are holding onto.

  • I think the honor for first animated feature designed for/produced in stereoscopic 3D went to Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)

    I don’t think this image is a bad one but it seems to be much in the same crowd-a-bunch-of-characters-together style that Amid didn’t like before.

    The previously circulated image of the monster eating the bridge was much more enticing than this one.

  • Chris L

    Yeah, I really didn’t notice the whole “50 foot woman” thing until someone else pointed out that she had her hand on the building. Oops. As I recall, the way they made the original poster work was by placing her BEHIND a building.

  • This looks cool, I hope it’s good. Dreamworks has come a long way sense Sharktale.

    Not sure why people are comparing it to Wall-E, especially when I overhear a lot of people comparing Wall-E to Short Circuit. I was at Disneyland the other day when I heard a 6 year old kid say “Look at the Short Circuit poster” A 6 year old for crying out loud, you’d think he’d be too young to even see the film.

    Sure the 500 Foot Woman looks like Elastigirl, but Elastigirl looked like a lot of other stuff that’s out there. They didn’t conger up Elastigirl from thin air. Both of them look like a lot of Anime, Disney, or any other woman character from this inbred industry.

    I’m just happy that Dreamworks is moving in a much more appealing direction. I just wish they’d cut out the “the Ultimate 3-D” crap, you’d think they learned their lesson from “Tradigital”.

  • Sarah

    There seem to be a few Sci-fi space movies coming out this year, CJ-7, Wall-E, and now this. I look forward to seeing all three movies in theaters. But I have to admit the promotional poster for MVA looks very similar to Pixar’s Incredibles, Bug’s Life AND Monster Inc. I guess it not easy trying designing a 3-D animated movie without being called a copy cat.

    Jeez, I was working on a web comic about outer space last December. I better get started ASAP before I’m called a “Monsters vs Aliens” copy cat.

  • Is that Mirage? Nice to see she got more work!

  • That dumb looking creature in the back cracks me up.

  • Oy, that’s some awful second-handed derivative design– perhaps they need to start consulting with top illustrators (with their own varied and unique styles) throughout the production to breath life into such mediocre “toon 3D” generalizations– to make sure the final product resembles concept. Though I do agree, it is less distasteful. I mean, it’s not Antz… *shudders*

    Anyway,@Spit & Spite
    haha, yeah, okay– predictions for the trailer:
    * Blue monster is involved in some kind of fat joke. Gets upset.

    * As Sean said, the lagoon creature will be a terrible black stereotype, in between fart jokes, it will insist it knows kung-fu or something.

    * Small bug-alien will have a wry, ironic comment about some impending peril

    * Giant woman is made so by the Monsters vs. Alien conflict, has flimsy love interest involved along the way.

    * Furby-squirrel-crustacean-thing is the child-like “loud nuisance character” that doesn’t have any lines, it just yells, burps, and smashes things.

    * The military is sent to stop the Monsters and/or Aliens, but it’s up to this small group of characters to convince them otherwise. The moral of the story will be “cultural relativism is swell” and “Your kids will hate you if you don’t go to the theaters, so Dreamworks will get your money regardless of quality issues.”

  • Chris

    I had a much better reaction to this image than the Kung Fu Panda trailer. First, it’s not a “funny” talking animal movie and second, it’s a step into a different genre direction that I think CG films could actually revive. The 50’s pulp sci-fi stuff. I heard DW’s release after this is “How To Train Your Dragon” sounds like someone at the studio looked at their output and noticed they are stuck in a rut and are tyring to move them into different directions. Now lets hope their writers adapt to the change and we get something better than Over the Hedge In Space. If I’m not mistaken I think Spumco vet Jim Smith worked on Monster Vs Aliens and I was hoping for a little more Ripping Friends feel to it.

  • I’m with Chris. I think it looks pretty interesting. Also the woman does look like Mirage because of the shape of her body and head and hair, BUT her face looks quite different and I really like it more, she looks pretty while Mirage should look pretty but it wasn’t at all IMO. Maybe it was a better design but I kinda find this face cuter and more appealing.

    I also love the big hamster thing and the tiny bug. I don’t know about the other two guys, they certainly look a little like Monsters Inc. protagonists, but the swamp creature looks more or less ok.

    I am definitely looking forward to it.That said, Kung Fu Panda looks good but it seems quite awful once the characters start talking. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    I really liked Over The Hedge and Bee Movie, not so much visually, but I thought the stories and gags were pretty decent. Madagascar had nice designs, other than that it was pretty meh after the first act. Heck, I even kinda liked the gags in Shrek 3 more than the ones in Shrek 2 or even in the first one, but the visuals were awful.

    So yeah, I believe Dreamworks is getting better, at least visually, and sometimes, in the stories as well. They should work a little more on making their characters likeable and their gags character-driven and not annoying, though. Bee Movie had pretty likeable characters but it was because of Seinfeld’s script, and they could have used better designs for them.

  • HumbleMovieFan

    I’m shocked that a single image could provoke so many harsh comments! While I agree that the human character designs by Dreamworks have not been very compelling, I like the giant woman. She has some unique chacteristics – her face is angular, but her features are soft. She has a wholesome, strong, sophisticated, prettiness to her that is different than what was projected by Elastigirl or Mirage.

    If comparisons are to be made, I see more Mirage in her than Elastigirl. But that’s like saying one model or actress looks just like another famous model or actress. The truth is, when there is a universal standard for beauty and you get in the “pretty” realm, people start looking similar (big eyes, full lips, thin body).

    Why is it that artists are so quick to compare something to another thing, simply to discredit its value? It’s like the annoying “been there -done that” friend who constantly feigns to be unimpressed, just to put on air of superiority.

    Judging this image on its own merit, conceptually, I am intrigued. If this image was on the cover of a magazine, I’d pick it up and want to read what’s inside.

    That being said, I agree that Pixar is on a whole different level. They are one of the few studios that deliver the complete entertainment package– visually beautiful, story-wise compelling, with just the right balance of heart and humor that makes a movie timeless.

    Ironically, Pixar for me is becoming like an old Spielberg ” I can-do-it-in-my-sleep” afterthought movie – mechanical, too formulaic and predictable, which opens it up as a target for other studios to find another innovative edge. It’s like what Tiger Woods is doing to golf. Do we really want to watch him or a promising newcomer?

    I agree with Roberto. Dreamworks needs to recognize that it is far from acheiving Pixar’s artistic accomplishments (I’m not saying that it is impossible for them to get there.) In the meantime, why not focus on the basics? Character-driven stories that adults and children can identify and connect with. It also wouldn’t hurt to up the cuteness/coolness factor of their characters all the way around.

    All in all, I’m going to watch Monsters and Kung Fu Panda. Viva la underdog! PS. Totoro on speedball – priceless. Miyazaki would chuckle.

  • Bitter Animator, what are you talkin about? Sure, the pixar animation has grown common, but the brilliance of storylines and characters make up for it I think.

  • The picture, so far, looks more visually appealing than DreamWorks’ previous films, I have to admit. And since I’m a giant monster fan, this should be right up my alley!

    I also think that the woman in the picture looks more like Mirage than Elastigirl. Either way, she at least looks good! I hope she comes off just as well in the film itself.

  • Tiki

    monsters inc + incredibles + ice age?


  • G.L. Lange

    That enormous fuzzy creature in the background reminds me of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man from “Ghostbusters.”

  • Steve Gattuso

    This image doesn’t make me want to go, nor does it make me want to run away in terror. Until I see more: a script, some completed animation, a teaser, collectible jelly jars, etc., I reserve judgment.

  • I really like this image over all, and it isn’t talking animals so YAY! for that.

    Someone said there are a lot of harsh comments and someone else said this essentially degrades the artist who worked on it? Really? I think that’s a little extreme no? I mean, I worked on some stuff that was lame and did as good of an animation job as I could, you know, the whole lemonade out of lemons thing. I doubt grown men and woman sit and mope and cry about what some dorks like us said on some blog. Lighten up, i think everyone takes this with a grain of salt right?