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Review: Megamind vs the Studio Syndicate

   On Feb. 25, 2011, Dreamworks Studios released “Megamind and the Button of Doom”. It was a short, 15-minute epilogue to their 2008 blockbuster Megamind. Except 13 years later, who knew Dreamworks would push the Button of Doom on the Megamind series and release “Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate”. 

   The short is great; it has a light, minimal plot that maintains the charisma and energy of its main character and even part of the original themes and messages. The movie is not.

Official Movie Poster, yes…
Courtesy Dreamworks Studio

   Released on Mar. 1 as a direct-to-streaming Peacock exclusive, “Megamind vs the Doom Syndicate” was doomed to fail. I am convinced the team behind it knew they were ruining one of Dreamworks’ most beloved movies because the project did not even carry the official Dreamworks logo. The opening shots of the movie are lifted directly from the 2008 film. The film did more to remind the audience how good the original was, because “Doom Syndicate” certainly looks nothing like it.

The silver lining is that the Rotten Tomatoes page hilariously displays a shot from the wrong film.

  Visually, the film could be a lot better. Animation errors abound (often funnier than the jokes); objects don’t line up between frames, tennis balls pop into existence like a video game, and the film has a habit of shrouding things in smoke. Director Eric Fogel was given “a really minuscule budget”, split between this project and the kids’ TV series “Megamind Rules”. Yes, that’s real. 

Megamind’s big blue head

   A budget for even a middling animated picture was impossible, and Doom Syndicate looks the part. It lacks any comprehensive art style, and animation assets have been dumped into this movie without to how they would look. The lighting makes the movie look washed out, which doesn’t help with the dearth of details in the scenes. 

   Megamind’s massive forehead looks like a big, blue, plastic shell. Slap expressions onto that face, and they created something scarier than any villain.

  The jokes do not fare much better. Screenwriters Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons greatly grasp meta-comedy, which the first Megamind film shows in strides. In “Doom Syndicate”, the writers tried way too hard to recapture this magic. In the end, they tried too little to make this film funny. Many of their jokes devolve into bland internet jokes and it gets so bad the film shadow drops the line “Hello darkness my old friend” as if expecting applause.

   Of course, most jokes are awkward puns and in an unwelcome surprise near the end, bird poop jokes.

   Even if the jokes were well made, they were not well delivered by the new voice cast, which consists of Keith Ferguson as Megamind, Josh Brenur as Clum (they changed Minion’s name for no reason), and Laura Post as Roxance. They’re accomplished voice actors, but they were probably as enthusiastic as the budget for this film. The old cast of Will Ferell, Tina Fey, and Brad Pitt gave the characters so much wit and charisma, especially with Ferell as Megamind. Now he sounds insufferable sanguine and excessively goofy.

   The plot had the potential to be something interesting. After the first movie, Megamind still struggles to act as a hero, and why wouldn’t he? Just as he’s getting the grips of his new life, the Doom Syndicate, part of his past, threatens to drag him back violently. That’s the kind of nuance the movie could have.

   But it is buried in miles of childish setpieces, and empty conflict. A dance party inserts itself awkwardly in the middle of the film. Megamind has a non-sensical plan to launch the city. And most glaringly, the new villains cannot be taken seriously.

The Doom Syndicate

   Starting with the least offensive, there is a stereotypically French mime (with a very long chin). He conjures yellow spirals from his hands and hypnotizes people. Then, there is a forgettable weather forecaster turned evil. Her powers are pretty generic and she wears an umbrella dress. More memorable is Nighty Knight, who seems to be wearing PJs under his armor and whose key gag is picking up a teddy bear midway through the movie. His power, though unclear, is to control darkness.

   Finally, there is Behemoth, a big lava monster. Easy villain to write you would think? Except, instead of smashing stuff, because he is BIG, he is awkwardly animated coughing up lava that he throws as a weapon. The Doom Syndicate, the namesake for the whole movie, is nothing more than a bunch of Saturday morning cartoon villains.

   This brings us to the film’s star, Megamind, who has undergone such extreme character assassination that I can scarcely believe Megamind is an appropriate name anymore. Something like Micromind might fit. Or Megadumb.

   As those names imply, Megamind just acts like an idiot. For a character whose defining attribute is his intellect and variety of gadgets, he barely musters anything against the Doom Syndicate. His reason? There’s 4 of them. For a character able to create and defeat a supervillain of his own making, that is pathetic. The new Megamind seems painfully debilitated, and it is quickly revealed that he can do almost nothing on his own, not just in crime fighting, but in day-to-day life. He even loses to a group known as the Go Fish Gang, which are just 3 random dudes in fish costumes.

   The film ends on a note that transitions us straight into the quality, kid-friendly TV slop that is “Megamind Rules”. What a shame. The original Megamind was certainly a kids’ film, but one that spoke to more mature themes of what you were and what you could be. As hard as Megamind may try, he cannot escape the fate laid out to him by studios and showrunners:  a parody of himself.

   I give it a 2/10.

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About the Contributor
Isaac Chan
Isaac Chan, Staff Writer
Isaac Chan is in his first year with the school's journalism team. Outside of journalism, Isaac is an avid fan of video games, with particular fondness for Kirby, Mario, Zelda, and the Persona series—which he is always eager to discuss. Despite his penchant for gaming, Isaac is no stranger to hard work and often finds himself immersed in the challenges of overcommitting. He is particularly interested in politics and views journalism as an ideal platform to address and discuss pressing issues at Gab.
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