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Monsters vs. Aliens

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Monsters vs. Aliens
A woman standing tall with three monsters in front of her and a cityscape behind her.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced byLisa Stewart
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Rob Letterman
  • Conrad Vernon
Music byHenry Jackman
Edited by
  • Joyce Arrastia
  • Eric Dapkewicz
Distributed byParamount Pictures[2]
Release date
  • March 27, 2009 (2009-03-27)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$175 million[3]
Box office$381.5 million[3]

Monsters vs. Aliens is a 2009 American 3D computer-animated science fiction comedy film[4] produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It was DreamWorks Animation's first feature film to be directly produced in a stereoscopic 3D format instead of being converted into 3D after completion, which added $15 million to the film's budget.[5] The film was directed by Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman, and features the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Stephen Colbert.

The film was released on March 27, 2009, in the United States in RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, and 4DX, grossing over $381 million worldwide on a $175 million budget.[3] Although not successful enough to be followed by a sequel,[6] the film started a franchise consisting of a short film, B.O.B.'s Big Break, two television specials, Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots, and a television series with the same name.


Out beyond the far reaches of space, an unknown planet explodes, sending a strange quantonium meteorite across the galaxy towards Earth. Meanwhile, Susan Murphy of Modesto, California is going to be married to news weatherman, Derek Dietl. Just before the ceremony, she is struck by the meteorite and its energy causes her to glow green and grow to an enormous size with her hair turning white during the wedding. A U.S. military detachment tranquilizes and captures her. She awakens in a top-secret government facility that houses monsters of which the public are ignorant. She meets General W.R. Monger, the Army officer in charge of the facility, and her fellow monster inmates: Dr. Cockroach P.H.D., a scientist who became half-human, half-cockroach after an experiment; B.O.B. (Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate), a brainless, living mass of blue goo as a result of a food flavoring mutation; Insectosaurus, a massive bug mutated by nuclear radiation standing 350 feet in height, and the Missing Link, a prehistoric 20,000-year-old fish-ape hybrid who was thawed from deep ice by scientists. Susan, herself renamed to "Ginormica", is forbidden any contact with her friends and family, leaving her feeling increasingly isolated.

On a mysterious spaceship in deep space, an alien overlord named Gallaxhar is alerted to the presence of quantonium, a powerful energy source on Earth, and he sends a robotic probe to retrieve it. The probe later lands on Earth where the President of the United States attempts to make the first contact with it. However, the attempt fails and the probe goes on a destructive rampage, headed straight for San Francisco. Monger convinces the President to grant the monsters their freedom if they can stop the probe. In San Francisco, the robot detects the quantonium radiating through Susan's body and tries to take it from her, putting many lives at risk. At the Golden Gate Bridge, the monsters work together and manage to defeat the probe by using the bridge itself.

Gallaxhar sets a course for Earth to obtain the quantonium in person while the now-free Susan returns home with her new friends and reunites with her family. However, the monsters alienate themselves from humans due to their inexperience with social situations. Derek breaks off his engagement with Susan, claiming that he cannot marry someone who would overshadow him and his career. Heartbroken, the monsters reunite, but Susan finally realizes that her life is better as a monster and promises not to sell herself short to anyone again. Suddenly, Susan is pulled into Gallaxhar's spaceship. Insectosaurus tries to save her, but he is shot down by the ship's plasma cannons, seemingly killing him.

Onboard the ship, Susan breaks free from her prison cell and furiously chases down Gallaxhar, but is trapped by a machine that extracts the quantonium from her body, shrinking her back to her normal size. Gallaxhar then uses the extracted quantonium to create clones of himself in order to launch a full-scale invasion of Earth. Monger manages to get the monsters on board the ship. They rescue Susan and make their way to the main power core where Dr. Cockroach sets the ship to self-destruct to prevent the invasion. All but Susan are trapped as the blast doors close and she personally confronts Gallaxhar on the bridge. With time running out, she sends the ball of stored quantonium down on herself, restoring her monstrous size and strength. After rescuing her friends, they flee the ship and meet with Monger and Insectosaurus, who has morphed into a giant butterfly. The ship self-destructs, killing Gallaxhar and his army.

Returning to Modesto, Susan and the monsters receive a hero's welcome. Hoping to take advantage of Susan's fame for his own career, Derek tries to get back together with her, but she rejects him. Monger then arrives to tell the monsters about a new monstrous snail called "Escargantua" slowly making its way to Paris, and the film ends with the monsters taking off to confront the new menace.

Voice cast


  • Reese Witherspoon as Susan Murphy A.K.A. Ginormica, a woman from Modesto, California who is hit by a radioactive quantonium on her wedding day, causing her to mutate and grow to a height of 49 feet 11.5 inches (15.227 m). Her exposure to quantonium also makes her hair turn white and gives her super strength.
  • Seth Rogen as B.O.B., an indestructible gelatinous mass-created when a genetically-altered tomato was injected with a chemically-altered ranch dessert topping. He can devour and digest almost any substance. His one weakness is that his mutation didn't give him a brain.
  • Hugh Laurie as Dr. Cockroach P.H.D., a brilliant scientist who attempted to imbue himself with the resilience and abilities of a cockroach, with the side-effect of his head becoming that of a giant cockroach.
  • Will Arnett as The Missing Link, a 20,000-years-old fish man who was found frozen and thawed out by scientists, only to escape and wreak havoc at his old lagoon habitat. Usually referred to as Link.
  • Conrad Vernon as Insectosaurus, formerly a 1 inch (25 mm) grub transformed by nuclear radiation into a 350 feet (110 m) monster with the ability to shoot silk out of his nose. He is unable to speak clearly and is mesmerized by bright light. He has a close bond with Link, who can understand what he's saying.


  • Rainn Wilson as Gallaxhar: An evil alien overlord intent on collecting quantonium - the substance that transformed Susan - to give his cloning machine enough power to generate an army of clones of himself to conquer Earth. He is served by gigantic robot probes. He claims to have suffered several traumas in his youth, driving him to destroy his own homeworld, and plans to make a new one on Earth.
  • Amy Poehler as Gallaxhar's computer.


  • Kiefer Sutherland as General Warren R. Monger: A military leader who runs a top secret facility where monsters are kept, it is his plan to fight the invading aliens with the imprisoned monsters. In a scene during the credits, he claims to be 90 years old, in spite of his youthful appearance.
  • Stephen Colbert as President Hathaway: The impulsive and rather dimwitted President of the United States. Not wanting to be remembered as "the President in office when the world came to an end", he agrees with General Monger's "monsters vs aliens" plan.
  • Paul Rudd as Derek Dietl: A local weatherman and Susan's ex-fiancé. He jumps at whatever opportunity he has to boost his career, which causes him to place his job (and himself) before his relationship with Susan, cancelling their plans to have a romantic honeymoon in Paris to land an anchorman job in Fresno.
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Carl Murphy: Susan's over-emotional father.
  • Julie White as Wendy Murphy: Susan's loving mother.
  • Renée Zellweger as Katie: A typical human girl. Her date with her boyfriend Cuthbert is interrupted by the landing of Gallaxhar's robot.
  • John Krasinski as Cuthbert: Katie's boyfriend.
  • Ed Helms as News Reporter


The film started as an adaptation of a horror comic book, Rex Havoc,[7] in which a monster hunter Rex and his team of experts called "Ass-Kickers of the Fantastic" fight against ghouls, ghosts and other creatures.[8] The earliest development goes back to 2002, when DreamWorks first filed for a Rex Havoc trademark.[9] In a plot synopsis revealed in 2005, Rex was to assemble a team of monsters, including Ick!, Dr. Cockroach, the 50,000 Pound Woman and Insectosaurus, to fight aliens for disrupting cable TV service.[7] In the following years, the film's story diverged away from the original Rex Havoc, with directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman finally creating the storyline from scratch.[10]

Production designer David James stated that the film is "a return to what made us nerds in the first place," getting classic movie monsters and relaunching them in a contemporary setting. Director Conrad Vernon added that he found it would be a great idea to take hideous monsters and giving them personalities and satirizing the archetypes.[11] Each of the five monsters has traits traceable to sci-fi/horror B movies from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, although none is a mere copy of an older character.[12] Susan, who grows to be 49 feet 11 inches tall, was inspired by Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Dr. Cockroach represents The Fly and The Curse of Frankenstein, while B.O.B. is an amalgam of slithering and slimy characters that were featured in the films, including The Blob and The Crawling Eye. Insectosaurus, a 350-foot-tall monster, is a nod to the 1961 Kaiju film Mothra. According to Vernon, the Missing Link has no direct inspiration. He "just represents anything prehistoric that comes back to life and terrorizes people."[12] For the San Francisco sequence, the producers researched many films and photographs for an accurate depiction of the city, and filmed animator Line Andersen, who had a similar body type to Ginormica—tall, thin, and athletic-looking—walking alongside a scale model of San Francisco, to capture better how a person not comfortable with being too big with an environment would walk around it.[11]

Ed Leonard, CTO of DreamWorks Animation, says it took approximately 45.6 million computing hours to make Monsters vs. Aliens, more than eight times as many as the original Shrek. Several hundred Hewlett-Packard xw8600 workstations were used, along with a 'render farm' of HP ProLiant blade servers with over 9,000 server processor cores, to process the animation sequence. Animators used 120 terabytes of data to complete the film. They used 6 TB for an explosion scene.[13]

Starting with Monsters vs. Aliens, all feature films released by DreamWorks Animation were produced in a stereoscopic 3D format, using Intel's InTru3D technology.[14] IMAX 3D, RealD 3D, 4DX and 2D versions were released.



To promote the 3D technology that is used in Monsters vs. Aliens, DreamWorks ran a 3D trailer before halftime in the U.S. broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009. Due to the limitations of current television technology, ColorCode 3-D glasses were distributed at SoBe stands at major national grocers. The Monsters, except Susan and Insectosaurus, also appeared in a 3D SoBe commercial airing after the trailer. Bank of America gave away vouchers which covered the cost of an upgrade to a 3D theatrical viewing of the film for its customers.[15]

Home media

Monsters vs. Aliens was released to DVD and Blu-ray in the United States and Canada on September 29, 2009 and on October 26, 2009, in the United Kingdom. The home release for both the DVD and Blu-ray format only contain the 2D version of the movie. However, the release is packaged with a new short, B.O.B.'s Big Break, which is the more traditional 3D that required green and magenta glasses.[16] Also included are four pairs of 3D glasses.[16] On January 6, 2010, it was announced that a 3D version would be released on Blu-ray.[17] On February 24, a tentative March release date was set for the United Kingdom, where anyone who buys a Samsung 3D TV or 3D Blu-ray player will get a copy.[18] On March 8, it was reported that the 3D Blu-ray would be released in the United States, also with Samsung 3D products, on March 21.[19] As of February 2011, 9.0 million home entertainment units were sold worldwide.[20] In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures and transferred to 20th Century Fox; the rights are now owned by Universal Pictures.[21]


Critical reception

Based on 213 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Monsters vs. Aliens has an overall approval rating from critics of 72% and an average score of 6.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Though it doesn't approach the depth of the best animated films, Monsters Vs. Aliens has enough humor and special effects to entertain moviegoers of all ages".[22] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 56/100 based on 35 reviews.[23] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5/4 stars, saying, "I suppose kids will like this movie", though he "didn't find [it] rich with humor".[24] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote "WALL-E had more charm, more soul, more everything. But there's enough merry mischief here to satisfy, even if you’re way past puberty."[25]

Box office

On its opening weekend, the film opened at no. 1, grossing $59.3 million in 4,104 theaters.[26] Of that total, the film grossed an estimated $5.2 million in IMAX 3D theatres, becoming the fifth-highest-grossing IMAX 3D debut, behind Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Dark Knight, and Watchmen.[27] The film grossed $198.4 million in the United States and Canada, making it the second-highest-grossing animated movie behind Up. Worldwide, it is the third-highest-grossing animated film of 2009 with a total of $381.5 million behind Up and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. It was the highest-grossing film worldwide in Witherspoon's career[28] until Sing overtook it in 2017.

Despite its success in the United States market, DreamWorks Animation's CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg was quoted in the Los Angeles Times that a sequel would never be made because of the film's weak performance in some key international markets (most notably France and Japan). Katzenberg said that "There was enough of a consensus from our distribution and marketing folks in certain parts of the world that 'doing a sequel' would be pushing a boulder up a hill."[29] In April 2011, Katzenberg commented that the studio did not have plans to produce future film genre parodies like Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens and Megamind, saying that these films "all shared an approach and tone and idea of parody, and did not travel well internationally. We don't have anything like that coming on our schedule now."[30]


In 2009, the film was nominated for four Annie Awards, including Voice Acting in a Feature Production for Hugh Laurie.[31] Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rogen were both nominated for best voice actor and actress at the 2010 Kids' Choice Awards for voicing Susan and B.O.B,[32] but lost to Jim Carrey for Disney's A Christmas Carol.[33] Monsters vs. Aliens was also nominated for Best Animated film but lost to Up.[33] On June 24, 2009, the film won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film.[34]

Award Category Name Outcome
Annie Awards[35] Annie Award for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production Scott Cegielski Nominated
Annie Award for Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Tom Owens Won
Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Hugh Laurie Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards[32] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Seth Rogen Nominated
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Favorite Animated Movie Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Saturn Awards[34] Saturn Award for Best Animated Film Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Visual Effects Society[36] Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Terran Boylan
David Burgess
Scott Cegielski
David Weatherly
Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture David P. Allen
Amaury Aubel
Scott Cegielski
Alain De Hoe


Monsters vs. Aliens: Music from the Motion Picture
Film score by
ReleasedMarch 24, 2009

Track listing:[37][38]

All music is composed by Henry Jackman, except as noted.

1."A Giant Transformation" 3:05
2."When You See (Those Flying Saucers)"The Buchanan Brothers2:17
3."Tell Him"The Exciters2:35
4."A Wedding Interrupted" 2:09
5."Meet the Monsters" 2:29
6."Planet Claire"The B-52's4:37
7."Do Something Violent!" 2:07
8."The Grand Tour" 2:10
9."Oversized Tin Can" 3:38
10."The Battle at Golden Gate Bridge" 6:08
11."Didn't Mean to Crush You" 1:51
12."Reminiscing"Little River Band4:14
13."Imprisoned by a Strange Being" 5:28
14."Galaxar as a Squidling" 2:06
15."March of the Buffoons" 5:15
16."Wooly Bully"Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs2:21
17."Susan's Call to Arms" 3:02
18."The Ginormica Suite" 5:51
19."Monster Mojo" 2:08
20."The Purple People Eater"Sheb Wooley2:15
Total length:65:52

Other media

Beside the main film, the Monsters vs. Aliens franchise also includes a video game, a short film B.O.B.'s Big Break, and two television specials, Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots. A television series based on the film started airing on Nickelodeon on March 23, 2013, which was cancelled after one season due to low ratings and the network's plans to refocus on more "Nickish" shows.[39]


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  3. ^ a b c "Monsters Vs. Aliens". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  4. ^ Scott, A. O. (March 26, 2009). "From DreamWorks Animation, a Sci-Fi Parody". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  5. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (March 10, 2008). "First look: Monsters vs. Aliens is the ultimate; a 3D 'first'". USA Today. Retrieved May 16, 2008.
  6. ^ Lieberman, David (April 26, 2011). "DreamWorks Animation Pins Hopes On 'Kung Fu Panda 2′ After 1Q Earnings Fall Short". Deadline Hollywood. Don't look for DreamWorks Animation to produce additional movie genre parodies similar to its send-up of mob films in Shark Tale, monster movies in Monsters vs. Aliens, and superhero films in Megamind. "All shared an approach and tone and idea of parody, and did not travel well internationally," CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts in a conference call after earnings were announced. "We don’t have anything like that coming on our schedule now."
  7. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole (September 20, 2005). "DreamWorks grooming toons". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  8. ^ Torfe, Pat (September 2, 2005). "Rex Havoc's a Dream". Joblo. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  9. ^ "Rex Havoc". Trademarkia. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  10. ^ Guillen, Michael (February 9, 2009). "MONSTERS vs. ALIENS—Jeffrey Katzenberg Presentation". The Evening Class. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Modern Movie Monster-Making", Monsters vs. Aliens DVD
  12. ^ a b Barnes, Brooks (March 19, 2009). "The Monsters That Inspired 'Monsters vs. Aliens'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  13. ^ Boshoff, Theo (March 31, 2009). "Monsters, aliens come alive". ITWeb.
  14. ^ "Intel, Dreamworks Animation Form Strategic Alliance to Revolutionize 3-D Filmmaking Technology" (Press release). Intel. July 8, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  15. ^ Finke, Nikki (March 19, 2009). "Bailed Out Bank Of America Paying Consumers To See Hollywood Film". Deadline Hollywood Daily.
  16. ^ a b "Monsters vs. Aliens Hits DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 29". July 8, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  17. ^ ""Monsters Vs. Aliens" becomes first 3D Blu-Ray". January 6, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
  18. ^ "'Monsters vs. Aliens' 3D Blu-ray Hits UK in March – Only From Samsung". February 24, 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  19. ^ "Samsung 3D Blu-rays don't work?". March 8, 2010. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
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  21. ^ Chney, Alexandra (July 29, 2014). "DreamWorks Animation Q2 Earnings Fall Short of Estimates, SEC Investigation Revealed". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
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  23. ^ "Monsters vs. Aliens Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  24. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 25, 2009). "Monsters vs. Aliens". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 9, 2017 – via
  25. ^ "Monsters vs. Aliens : Review : Rolling Stone". March 28, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  26. ^ "Weekend Box Office Estimates (U.S.) for March 27–29 weekend". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
  27. ^ "Weekend Report: 'Monsters,' 'Haunting' Scare Up Big Business". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
  28. ^ "Reese Witherspoon Movie Box Office Results". Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  29. ^ "DreamWorks Animation's profit drops; no sequel for 'Monsters vs. Aliens'". LA Times Blogs - Company Town. October 27, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  30. ^ Lieberman, David (April 26, 2011). "DreamWorks Animation Pins Hopes On 'Kung Fu Panda 2' After 1Q Earnings Fall Short". Deadline. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  31. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (December 1, 2009). "'Up' and 'Coraline' Lead the 2009 Annie Award Nominees". HitFix. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  32. ^ a b "Miley Cyrus, Twilight Lead 2010 Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards Nominations". Take 40. February 15, 2010. Archived from the original on March 9, 2013. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  33. ^ a b "Kids Choice Awards 2010 Winners". The Wall Street Journal. March 27, 2010. Archived from the original on March 29, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  34. ^ a b Stransky, Tanner (June 25, 2010). "Saturn Awards: 'Avatar,' James Cameron, and 'Lost' take top honors". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  35. ^ "37th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". Annie Awards. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  36. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 18, 2010). "'Avatar' leads Visual Effects Society noms". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  37. ^ "SoundtrackINFO: Monsters vs. Aliens Soundtrack (complete album tracklisting)". Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  38. ^ "iTunes – Music – Monsters Vs. Aliens (Music from the Motion Picture) by Various Artists". Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  39. ^ Schooley, Bob (February 16, 2014). "Ratings, desire of Nick to get back to the more "Nickish" shows". Twitter. Retrieved June 6, 2014.

External links