Though the film lacks the emotional backbone and steadier plot of the first one, I found this to be genuinely fun makes up for the lackluster and slightly mean-spirited second film.
The main plot in this is a little predictable. Not bad, just obvious. But, this film is more about the journey than the destination. The installment is more segmented, following the many, many monsters in their own storylines. This is actually to HT3’s benefit. The main emphasis here is humor and they mine the heck out of it. Think of HT3 as more of a series of Saturday morning cartoon/Looney Tunes-style skits.
Director and animation veteran Gendy Tartakovsky, ups his game with his unique style of distinctive animation and fluidity of movement. (Again a very old-school cartoon-style.) The new character Ericka, the captain of the ship, is especially impressive in the sheer amount of detail given to her various facial expressions and body motions. The characters remain distinctive-looking and colorful. The cruise ship setting really pays off with the different attractions the characters visit are visually arresting.
The movie also solves the previous villain problems of the last two films. Rather than have a shoehorned in villain who appears briefly and feels more like an afterthought, we finally have villains who appear throughout and are actually vital to the plot.
There are two little weak spots to the film for me. First, there’s Ericka’s chin. It’s just a little too pointy and oddly angled for its own good. Second, the movie gives children the misguided message that love exists immediately at first sight.
Again, this may not be a Pixar/Disney level movie but is entertaining in its own little way.