Director - David Silverman, Pete Docter
Cast - John Goodman, Billy Crystal
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 5
Distributor - Disney
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 02/18/13
The Film (4/5)
Monstopolis has a problem, and it is this. The children of the world no longer scare as easy as they use to. The dilemma this has caused Monstropolis is that the city runs on energy supplied by the screams of young children, and without those screams that energy supplied has dwindled. The screams that power Monstropolis are supplied by Monsters Inc. a factory that supplies doorways into the bedrooms of children all over the world, and also provide the monsters to scare them.
The scare-champion of Monsters Inc. is a large blue horned monster named James P. Sullivan or Sulley (John Goodman) as he is known. Along with the other monsters they spend their work days on the scare floor entering children's bedrooms, and doing their best to scare children, whilst also doing their best to avoid their touch. It is believed that the touch of a human child is poisonous, and deadly to the monsters, so while the children are meant to fear the monsters, the monsters equally fear the children. Aside from the scream shortage this system has worked quite well for the crew at Monsters Inc., until one day a 2 year old girl named Boo sneaks back with Sulley into Monsters Inc., and begins to cause havoc among the monstrous denizens of Monstropolis.
From Toy Story up through the first Ratatouille Pixar Animation Studio had a damn near flawless streak of fantastic animated family fare. These were animated films beloved by both children and parents, and one of the highest points of that streak is Monsters Inc. Monsters Inc. takes a very basic childhood premise, the fear of a monster under the bed, and in the closet, and expands it into an absolutely fun and funny time. Some kids might find themselves scared, at certain aspects early on, but the interplay between the characters and situations will soon alleviate those early fears, and adult viewers will certainly be in on the fun.
The characters in the film from the main duo of Sulley and Mike, down to the background characters are extremely well-realized. I mean this in every respect from character design, and animation, to the writing and relationships between the characters which come off as natural and never forced. The characters that populate Monstropolis, and the greater world of Monsters Inc. feel like fully fleshed out characters with actual depth.
Also, coming from the perspective of a life long fan of horror, sci-fi, and cult cinema. The Pixar crew have seen fit to sneak a good few easter eggs to the cinema that inspired Monsters Inc. into the background of the film. A few of very obvious such as naming a restaurant Harryhausen's (after the great stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen) others are less so, but elements like this make the film work very well on repeat viewings. Monsters Inc. is being prequelized this summer (with Monsters University), which makes this 3D reissuing on the film absolutely perfect timing on the part of Disney. This gives young new viewers, and older first time viewers a chance to see one of Pixar's absolutely greatest earlier acheivements in a fantastic presentation.
Pixar and Disney have presented Monsters Inc. with a simply stunning 1080p AVC encoded MPEG-4 transfer. I will be forward in admitting that I am not a fan of the use of 3D in films period. It's not that I do not see the possibilities, I just feel that most films that have used 3D have used it a gimmick that as an added texture to the viewing experience. That being said, I have grown to enjoy certain 3D presentations more than most, and the ones I have enjoyed more often than not have been those that have been shot with 3D in mind. Usually when a film is post-converted to 3D the results are less than stellar. It was with those expectations in mind that I watched the 3D presentation of Monsters Inc., and found myself pleasantly surprised.
Of course, Monsters Inc. is a film by Pixar Animation Studios, the very company who when forced to make fullscreen presentations of their widescreen films went back, and added more visual information to the 1:33:1 frame to make the composition more interesting to the eye, and more truthful to the story they were trying to tell, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked that a post-converted Monsters Inc. could look this good. I will get this out of the way, there are a few standard 3D moments throughout the film with objects heading toward the camera as if they are emerging from the screen. However, what I found most interesting about the 3D Blu-ray presentation of Monsters Inc., is the way Pixar used depth and texture. A good example of this texture is the fur that covers Sulley's body, which now appears as if you could reach out and touch it, and run your hands through it. The scare floor looks endless, and offers more depth then I could have pictured it having in prior 2D versions of the film. Overall, a fantastic presentation.
The audio presentation comes in 2 forms a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 7.1 mix. The sound mix on the film sounds fantastic all the way through. The dialogue comes through loud and clear. The music and effects sound truly bombastic, and everything mixes together well, like the video the audio is absolutely fantastic.
Disney/Pixar have put together a nice slate of extras for their release of Monsters Inc. The first disc contains 5 minutes of out takes in HD. The first 2 both contain the Pixar short Partysaurus Rex, on the first disc it's in 3D, in the second it's the 2D presentation. We also get the short film For the Birds on the first 2 Disc both in 3D and 2D respectively. On the second disc we also get the 2D presenation of Mike's New Car, a Monsters Inc. short film. The second disc (the 2D presenation) sees most of the major players at Pixar sitting down for an audio commentary. We then get a 22 minute filmmakers roundtable filmed at the Hidden City Cafe with Pete Docter, Lee Unkich, the films producer Darla K. Anderson, and story supervisor Bob Anderson.
The third disc in the set kicks off with a Monsters Inc. Employment exam 100 trivia questions about the film. We then get a 4 minute Pixar factory tour lead by John Lasseter. The third disc continues with 4 featurettes on the story, 10 minutes of "Banished Concepts" basically 5 deleted scenes that were never fully animated, 16 minutes of Storyboard to Film Comparison. There is also a 5 minute piece on Designing Monstropolois, Set Dressing, and then a 7 minute Location Flyaround which shows up the landscape of Monstropolis. We then get to a Monster Files featurette which runs 7 minutes, and is a sort of dossier of the films various monsters, this is followed by 6 featurettes on the animation process of Monsters Inc. We then have 2 short featurettes on music and sound design running 7 minutes. We then have a section which details release material for the film including footage from the film's premiere, trailers, and TV spots. We then have the Monsters Only Section which is about 12 minutes of in character promo material. The third disc is wrapped up with an art gallery, and a 1 minute wrap up. Disc 4 and 5 are a standard DVD copy and digital copy of the film respectively.
Monsters Inc. is one of Pixar's finest films. The 3D and Standard Blu-ray presentation contained in this set is absolutely spectacular, and the set is loaded up with extra features. This 5 Disc edition of Monster Inc. comes highly recommended.