It's been quite a year for DreamWorks Animation's computer-generated goofiness. March brought "How to Train Your Dragon" and almost $500 million in worldwide box-office receipts. Two months later, what has been billed as the final installment in the "Shrek" franchise swept across the globe and made off with $737.4 million in booty. This weekend, "Megamind" is aiming to keep that string of DreamWorks hits going.

It's got the firepower, with Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt's names splashed across marketing material. And it's expected to land somewhere in the $50 million to $60 million range over its first weekend. That'd be more than "Dragon," which delivered voice talent with considerably less star wattage than "Megamind," but not nearly as much as "Shrek Forever After," which has become one of the most enduring animated franchises of the new millennium.

As a point of comparison between these three flicks, "Dragon" received near universal acclaim (98% on the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator), while "Shrek" was saddled with decidedly mixed praise (58 percent on RT). "Megamind" falls somewhere in the middle (64 percent at the moment), and will likely also fall somewhere in the middle when the weekend box-office tally is finalized. Here's what the critics are saying.

Story
"Megamind [Ferrell] and Metro Man (Pitt) were born on a faraway, doomed planet and sent to Earth by their respective sets of parents, Superman-style. But Metro Man winds up in a loving home in Metro City, while Megamind's capsule lands in prison. That kind of environment is difficult to overcome. For years their lives play out with predictability. The hapless Megamind, with the help of his evil fish Minion [David Cross], kidnaps bored TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi [Tina Fey], Metro Man saves her, repeat, repeat, repeat. Until one day, when Megamind, in a development that surprises him as much as anyone, does the unthinkable: He wins.

He vanquishes Metro Man, leaving Metro City helpless and at his disposal. Sounds ideal for a villain, sure, but it proves to be a hollow victory, as Megamind discovers that he lost his sense of purpose when he lost his enemy. A plan to create a new hero goes awry, creating, from Roxanne's sad-sack cameraman Hal (Jonah Hill), a villain more evil, or at least crankier, than Megamind ever was. Now Megamind must team with Roxanne to save the city he had so much fun trying to destroy." — Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic

The Performances
"After playing well-meaning blowhards like Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby, Will Ferrell feels like a natural fit for the arrogant, misguided Megamind, and he does a terrific job not only capturing a supervillain's prototypical penchant for melodrama, but offering an underlying vulnerability that makes him not only funny, but sympathetic to the audience. ... Meanwhile, as Roxanne Ritchi, Fey not only offers a perfect Lois Lane for the Lex Luthor-esque Megamind and Superman-esque Metro Man to battle over, but gives female viewers a character with enough substance, depth, intelligence and independence to hold her own against her male counterparts. ... At the same time, Pitt is also perfectly cast as the polished protector whose indulgence in the public's hero worship seems at least as dangerous as Megamind's malevolent schemes, and he effectively downplays the earnest heroics of comic book counterparts like Superman in lieu of something more smug and self-satisfied." — Todd Gilchrist, Cinematical

The 3-D
"[T]he director goes the extra mile with the film's visual aspects, notably — and perhaps especially — with the 3-D. Perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid to the dimensional work here is that, after a certain point, you tend to forget that you're watching a 3-D movie, so gracefully are the perspectives integrated into the compositions and movements. Wearing the glasses still darkens the image by at least 25%, but the images burst out nonetheless, and there is particularly adroit use of an invisible car, the outline of which just barely registers when it figures in the action. Overall, the film stands as one of the best arguments in favor of 3-D among the many examples that have surfaced over the past couple of years in that it feels like mature, restrained, even natural use of the technique." — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

The Dissenters
" 'Megamind' is a dispiriting return to the tired, star-driven, pop-culture-ridden formula that DreamWorks Animation ran into the ground before its best feature in years, this spring's 'How to Train Your Dragon.' Now, with Tom McGrath ('Madagascar') at the helm of 'Megamind,' it's back to the same old Shrek — er, dreck." — Lou Lumenick, New York Post

The Final Word
"Directed by Tom 'Madagascar' McGrath, and written by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, 'Megamind' is a smart, funny and original treat. Sweet enough to deliver a message about creating your own destiny, but with just enough sour grapes not to cloy, the movie delivers pure pleasure from start to finish. It's also beautifully animated, with great sensitivity to detail. Check out the faintest flush of pink, for instance, in Megamind's oversize ears. For once, the 3-D gimmick seems justified, with eye-popping scenery and action." — Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post

Check out everything we've got on "Megamind."

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