That kid in the DreamWorks logo sure takes some punishment. Stung in Bee Movie and mugged by a penguin in Madagascar 2, he opens Monsters Vs Aliens by being sucked into a spaceship.
Oh, well: at least he isn’t crushed by a meteorite on his wedding day and is promptly transformed into a 50ft woman.
That fate is reserved for Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), the heroine of a brisk spin on the 1950s B-movie that merrily riffs on The Fly, The Blob and Creature From The Black Lagoon.
It’s these which provide the inspiration for the cockroach-headed scientist (Hugh Laurie), gelatinous gloop (Seth Rogen) and wisecracking reptile (Will Arnett) she meets after being transplanted from Modesto, California to a Men In Black-style prison.
But Dr Strangelove, War Of The Worlds and The Day The Earth Stood Still are in here as well in the war room shenanigans that ensue after an alien robot arrives on earth at the behest of Mars Attacks!-style space villain Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), much to the chagrin of General Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), a belligerent blowhard clearly modeled on George C Scott’s Buck Turgidson.
Indeed, there’s so much retro detailing you wonder who the target audience is for a picture whose arcane references will soar over the heads of younger punters.
Luckily there’s lots of in-yourface fun to keep them entertained, a bat-and-ball gag in the initial minutes introducing impressively rendered “InTru 3D” technology that reaches its apotheosis during a terrific set-piece on the Golden Gate Bridge.
For the most part, however, it’s best utilised adding depth-offield to the striking visuals, proving, like Bolt before it, that 3-D has more to offer than shockorama trickery.
Now if they could only find a way of doing it without the glasses!
A snappy script and some neat 3D make for an above-average romp with plenty of in-jokes for cineastes and fan-boys alike.