Review: Megamind

(PG) ****

Director: Tom McGrath.

Cast: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, David Cross, Ben Stiller.

WITH the current boom in superhero heroes, it was inevitable the genre would gain a trail of subversive caped crusader re-imaginings in its wake.

Already we've had a stream of tales about some not-quite-so-super wannabes, such as Kick Ass, Defendor and Griff The Invisible, and we've seen the hero-centric reversal with the villain-focused CG flick Despicable Me, where Steve Carell voiced the starring baddie.

A little late to the party is Megamind, but it's a welcome guest because it's better than Carell's patchy animated comedy and an enjoyable take on the traditional superhero movie.

Ferrell provides the vocal cords for the title character, a bulbous-craniumed evil-doer who spends his time going head-to-head with Metro Man (Pitt), the strong-jawed Superman copy that continually thwarts Megamind's schemes.

But when Megamind finally succeeds on wiping out his nemesis, the villain suffers an existential crisis - what does a bad guy do when he has no good guy to battle?

A restrained Ferrell and a strong script help make Megamind a compelling and well-rounded character. He also gets a decent sidekick in Minion (voiced by the hilarious Cross) and some worthy competition in reporter Roxanne Ritchie (Fey) and her cameraman (Hill).

Genuinely funny without resorting to cheap Shrek-like pop culture gags, the film skewers the superhero genre nicely by exploring the ideas of good and evil and the roles of the hero and villain in a "what if justice didn't prevail?" scenario.

If you have to choose between this and the superficially similar Despicable Me, choose Megamind. It's less predictable, funnier, cleverer and generally more enjoyable.

It's no The Incredibles, but at least Megamind evens the cinematic ledger a little by letting the bad guy have his day in the sun in entertaining fashion.