Megamind (2010)

Director: Tom McGrath

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Certification: PG

Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Brad Pitt

Back in 2010, audiences went gaga for Despicable Me, the smash hit debut from Illumination which spawned a successful franchise. In that same year, Dreamworks Animation also released a film about a supervillain who's helped out by a Minion, who finds their heart softening, voiced by a star from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Released prior to the superhero boom, this fun subversion of the genre was ahead of its time. The story follows the never-ending clash between a superhero and his brainy nemesis, and asks the question, what if the villain won? This is the predicament Megamind (Will Ferrell) finds himself in, as he loses all purpose and doesn't know what to do with his life.

It's a fascinating idea which gets to the heart of cyclical rivalries depicted in comic-books. What makes it work is how the witty material pokes fun, while never diving into cynicism. It's built from a reverence for superheroes, with nods primarily to Superman, right down to a humorous riff on Marlon Brando. Stunning animation brings it alive, capturing the flamboyancy of these larger than life figures, and the thrilling action beats nestled within.

When high-profile names are attached, the worry becomes whether it's done for stunt casting purposes, however each casting decisions is spot-on. Will Ferrell could've delivered a by-the-numbers performance, yet his portrayal is anything but that. As the backstory shows, Megamind is an insecure character, channelling his hurt and loneliness from a young age into becoming a supervillain. No matter how much he tries to take over Metro City, the villain wants the kudos and luxury Metro Man (Brad Pitt) had since childhood.

News reporter Roxanne Ritchie (Tina Fey) has spent her career romantically linked to Metro Man, although she's more than just a love interest. Determined to stop villainy however she can, especially in the wake of Megamind's victory, she's a cool-headed figure with a resolve to set things right. Aiding her in the job is Hal (Jonah Hill), a cameraman smitten with Roxanne who reveals himself to be an entitled incel. He's a contrast to Megamind's helper, the warm-hearted Minion (David Cross), wonderfully designed as a talking fish in a robotic ape body. These characters help make up this hilarious feature, which stands as one of the best films ever released by Dreamworks Animation.

Megamind is available to stream on Now and Sky Go, to rent from Video on Demand services, and to buy on DVD