It always seems strange whenever animated films boast about their impressive voice cast.  Whilst their rich tones would be welcome, their stories are always more important.  Many recent efforts have forgotten this with Megamind somewhat joining this fray.  Although full of the rich colour making these films so good, its’ vocal and visual splendour comes unstuck due to a heavy-handed screenplay diluting its potential for high flying entertainment.

Metro City is famed for its hero Metro Man.  Constantly battling against the dastardly Megamind, he’s the man everyone looks up to.  When Megamind actually defeats and kills him, Metro City’s citizens wonder what will happen next.  So does Megamind as he gradually becomes bored without his pearly white nemesis to fight.  Hatching a plan to construct a new hero to battle – Titan – he unknowingly begins a journey towards the right side of the law as his new creation holds the city to ransom.

With a script constantly highlighting issues of ‘be what you want’ and ‘be careful what you wish for’, Megamind’s soapbox style preaching saps much of its energy.  The colourful characters are all in place and some of its humour works pretty well but never fully embraces these fun aspects.  Such films should deliver exciting tales not stern lectures although it provides interest when examining the inter-changeable nature of heroism and villainy.

Even if the story isn’t that flash the animation is superb.  Vibrant and packed with life, it looks amazing – especially when viewed in 3-D.  Whilst most recent movies in this format have been terrible, the 3-D works brilliantly in this instance and proves animation is the formats’ natural home.  If only the story had as much punch as the visuals Megamind would have been great, although it’s enjoyable seeing how many superhero clichés it ticks off as it creaks to its drawn out conclusion.

Did the voice cast make a difference with Megamind?  Not really – showing that nothing can work unless the writing is up to scratch.  Unfortunately it isn’t in this case, although its’ great images and some nice knowing humour make for a passable time out for undemanding small and big heroes alike.

Rating out of 10:  5

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

After the supposed financial and artistic failure of the previous Narnia adventure – Prince Caspian – it seemed the franchise was doomed.  When the studio backing it dropped out, this only re-iterated that notion.  But like the heroes inhabiting this popular literary series, it has lived to see another day with a new distributor and a spring in its step.  Having an enchantment and focus the previous film lacked, Dawn Treader puts the franchise back on track with a stirring entry which should appeal to its many fans.

Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) are called back to Narnia by King Caspian (Ben Barnes).  Upon their return they are asked to accompany him on the Dawn Treader – a ship Caspian has built in order to find the Seven Lords.  Banished by his wicked uncle, Caspian needs to find them in order to restore the peaceful balance on which Narnia exists.  With their young cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) in tow, Lucy and Edmund must help save their magical wonderland once more as they sail the treacherous seven seas.

Whilst the two previous films were unmemorable children’s flicks, Dawn Treader embraces the full potential the cinematic Narnia series has only hinted at.  Lean in its story-telling and robust in its action, there’s hardly any time to draw breath amongst its fantasy.  Whether it’s due to its source book being the best of the series or Michael Apted’s energetic direction, it’s easy to immerse oneself into this charming world with the special effects helping immeasurably.

Although some more interaction between the characters would have been nice and the ending could have been less mawkish, Dawn Treader delivers as all ages entertainment.  Its’ major plus is a more coherent story with the ‘cute cuddly creature’ syndrome mostly banished.  Made on the Gold Coast, the local scenery looks spectacular with the excellent cinematography mirroring the production team’s efforts in creating a quality product.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a fine addition to the series.  Enjoyable, fast paced and decently acted, a fourth outing should be less of an obstacle to navigate as this third entry delivers in spades.

Rating out of 10:  8