fing sci-fi and comic-book movies isn't the height of innovation, by any stretch, but "Megamind" rates several cuts above cut-rate. Debuting screenwriters Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons are smart enough to take the story into some unexpected turns. Characters actually surprise you a bit, and the voice work "? particularly Ferrell and the ever-sunny David Cross ("Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel") as a talking fish "? helps breathe life into archetypes.

The animation is equally impressive. Director Tom McGrath (both "Madagascar"s) does a fine job showcasing the stereoscopic effects without straining, and there is exemplary detail and texture throughout. If "Megamind" is ultimately more "meh" than "mega," it nevertheless works as a pleasant diversion. "?Phil Bacharach

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