Monsters, Inc. [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Disney/Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (8th December 2009).
The Film

"Monsters, Inc." sees a new low in cinema, the film is vile, insipid, uninspired and totally unwatchable. This is the first time in recent memory that I actually felt sick after having watch a film... oh who am I kidding? "Monsters, Inc." is another winner from Pixar, having reviewed Pixar films for some time now, it's easy to see we are enamored by them and it gets a little boring opening each Pixar review the same way... but the truth is they've really done no wrong, and "Monsters, Inc." is truly an animated masterpiece from the same director that charmed us all "Up" (2009) this past summer.

"Monsters, Inc." was one of the few original projects that were brainstormed after "Toy Story" (1995), John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft had a lunch at their favorite cafe and laid out what would become Pixar's output for the next several years. Six years later the idea was developed and finally saw release to much critical praise and a healthy box office. One of the most popular of the Pixar films, much like the previous films in the Pixar cannon, "Monsters, Inc." would spawn an additional short film, a manga comic series, a series of video games, a live ice show, and also became staples at Disney's theme parks.

"Monsters, Inc." tells the story of two monsters, Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal), they work at Monsters Incorporated, the power company in the city of Monstropolis. They must pend their days scaring children, harnessing the screams they can power their city. While Sully is on a scare mission, he encounters a young girl, Boo (Mary Gibbs) who follows him back to Monstropolis. Sully soon finds himself in a bind when he recruits his friend Mike to help him hide Boo's presence from the other citizens and try to return her to her home which posses many problems for the two, complicating matters is Sully continually being challenged for the top scarer spot.

Pixar takes their films a step further, with plot details that aren't simply run-of-the-mill. This is not to say their early output was, but looking back at them, the stories weren't exactly rich in detail or overly complicated. What made them work was their identifiable characters and themes that can reach all manner of people. "Monsters, Inc." contains an imaginative and inventive scenario that breaths life into a behind-the-scenes of a scream factory worked by a plethora of zany and cool looking monsters. They not only took their story elements into new heights but their ability to populate the worlds with richly developed and designed characters. Bringing these characters ti life are the talented voice cast. Pixar has a knack for spot-on casting, managing to capture the essence of each character with the choice of voice actor and what they are capable of bringing to the table. You won't ever find an actor sleepwalking or phoning in a performance, the artisans here take just as much time directing the voice actors as they do creating each CG frame of the film.

Headlining our voice actors are John Goodman and the big and lovable Sully with Billy Crystal as his buddy Mike. These two share an incredible amount of chemistry and their relationship is as real as it can get. A testament to the film considering it's entirely CG animated and everything was created from scratch. They make a great pair bouncing lines off each other, it would have been great to see it in person during the recording process. Each actor brings a human touch to the characters that help audiences form a personal connection with them. Thrown into the mix are excellent supporting cast members that include the easily identifiable voice of Steve Buscemi as well as James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Frank Oz, Bonnie Hunt and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger.

"Monsters, Inc." posed a unique challenge for the animators at Pixar, they had to create a collection of crazy looking monsters and bring the world of Monstropolis to life. The major hurdle would have been to get Sully's fur right, a daunting process of making it look real and move in a realistic fashion. The result is excellent, not only does he feel like a wholly realized character with realistic fur but so do the rest of the characters and production design making "Monsters, Inc." a thoroughly immersive and hugely entertaining film for all ages.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 mastered in high-definition 1080p 24/fps with AVC MPEG-4 compression codec. Much like all the previous Pixar titles on Blu-ray this film is also mastered from its original digital source, making for a pristine reference quality image. The image is razor sharp and displays incredible depth and detail. The film's character's details are displayed in full glory showing off the work of these talented animators. Production design looks good as the image shows off the backgrounds and finer details well. Colors are bright and well balanced, they simply pop off the screen like a rainbow coming through your display. Black levels are deep and bold, and the image quality remains consistently good throughout, no compression problems, no edge-enhancement, pixelation or other artifacts. This is a clean, beautiful and overall striking image. HD enthusiasts will relish in this image's perfect presentation.

Audio

Four audio tracks are featured in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks in English, French or Spanish. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD audio. The previous DVD I owned featured a rather impressive standard DTS track, now that's I've upgraded to HD, I can only look forward having heard some impressive audio tracks that simply blow viewers away. "Monsters, Inc." is just one of those track, while not as aggressive as action films, this tracks strengths lie in creating a unique and fascinating world, populated by inventive sounds that immerse viewers. Viewers will feel like they are a citizen of Monstropolis with active surrounds, effects sounds and crisp and clear dialogue. Finally the film's score adds further depth to the mix making excellent use of the surround channels.
Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Disney and Pixar really went for it with these Blu-ray releases packing them with some incredible content, this 4-disc set includes an audio commentary, video introduction, two short films, a plethora of featurettes, interactive features, art galleries, storyboard-to-film comparison, outtakes, theatrical trailers, TV spots, music video, BD-live access and a digital copy of the film. Below is a closer look at these supplements broken down per disc.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, executive producer/screenwriter Andrew Stanton and executive producer John Lasseter. This is a rich, detailed and enjoyable track that offers fans everything they might want to know about the production. They comment on the early development of the story and the plot, reminiscing about that process and on how they pieced together the film. They comment on the characters and their genesis, matching the characters with the right voice actors and on working with them. They also delve into the technical aspects of the production, storyboarding, editing the scenes before animation, the animation process among other topics. It's a wonderful track that's light in tone but heavy on the information, offering viewers an idea of the challenges that go with making animated films. This one is certainly worth exploring.

Following that is a video introduction by the film's director Pete Docter which runs for 1 minute 31 seconds, this clip welcomes viewers to the film and provides viewers with an introduction to what you'll find in this Blu-ray disc release.

The brilliant "For the Birds" animated short is also included and can be viewed with optional audio commentary by the film's director Ralph Eggleston and runs for 3 minutes 28 seconds. This isn't the first time this Oscar winning film has been featured on a Pixar disc, previously making it's HD debut on the "Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1" disc released back in 2007, but it's nice to see it again here. The film is a funny little clip that features some rather mean birds.

Another animated short is included in the form of "Mike's New Car" which was produced for the DVD release of this film, it also include optional audio commentary by the sons of Pete Docter and Roger Gould, the clip runs for 3 minutes 47 seconds. In this clip Mike shows off his new car to his buddy Sully. It's a neat little film, but nowhere near as great as "For the Birds."

This disc also includes a collection of Blu-ray exclusive extras, the first of which is the "Filmmakers' Round Table" featurette which runs for 21 minutes 35 seconds. Filmed at the same cafe in which the fabled "lunch" took place, this clip features a conversation with the film's director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, producer Darla K. Anderson and story supervisor Bob Peterson. This newly filmed clip is another enjoyable extra that covers the film's development and creation. These guys laugh and joke about the challenges and share some great stories from the behind-the-scenes of the production process.

Next up is "Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek: Building Monstropolis in Japan" featurette that runs for 7 minutes 58 seconds, this is basically a tour of the theme park ride at Tokyo Disney, on building the ride, establishing the story for the ride and how it can "connect" with visitors as well as a look at the city of Tokyo and how it differs from the design of Disneyland.

The disc also features a "Maximize Your Home Theater" A/V calibration tool which allows you to get the best out of your home theater system.

Finally you can hop onto Disney's BD-Live access and search for additional content on their online portal, this is for profile 2.0 players only.

bonus trailers featured are for:

- "Disney Blu-ray" spot which runs for 1 minute 12 seconds.
- "Santa Buddies" which runs for 1 minute 39 seconds.
- "Ponyo" which runs for 1 minute 33 seconds.
- "Disney Parks" spot which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Toy Story 3" which runs for 1 minute 45 seconds.
- "Up" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "Dumbo: Special Edition" runs for 1 minute 17 seconds.

DISC TWO: BLU-RAY

The first extra on this disc is "Roz's 100 Door Challenge" an interactive game that plays out like a job interview, here you can determine where in Monstropolis you can work, there's a trivia aspect to the game as you go through the 100 door options, and it's fun for a few minutes but gets tiresome after a while.

This disc is broken up onto sections, the first section is entitled "Humans Only" and feature the following supplements in several sub-sections:

Pixar: "Pixar Fun Factory Tour" featurette runs for 3 minutes 46 seconds, in this clip John Lasseter takes us for a tour around the Pixar studios, which looks like just about the coolest place to work with each employee given free range to decorate their offices, a look at the facilities and meet some of the Pixar crew among other things.

There's a "Story" sub-section that features:

- "Story Is King" featurette which runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds, this short clip takes a look at how the story is the most important aspect of their films as we look at the story department, storyboarding and on getting an idea whether the film will work before it goes into animation.
- "Monsters Are Real" is a featurette which runs for 1 minute 31 seconds, this clip features the cast and crew talking about how monsters are real, playing into the notion of monsters being more scarred of kids than the other way around, it's a promotional clip that doesn't offer too much.
- "Original Treatment" featurette runs for 13 minutes 43 seconds, here we get a closer look at the original 2D animated treatment for the film, this is essentially the first pitch for the film's story.
- "Story Pitch: Back to Work" featurette runs for 4 minutes 39 seconds, Bob Peterson takes is through a scene in the film from the storyboard process.

The next sub-section is "Banished Concepts" and features:

- Intro to "Banished Concepts" runs for 32 seconds, co-director Lee Unkrich welcomes viewers to these deleted scenes, these scenes are mostly storyboards and production art and never made it to the animation stage unless otherwise noted.
- "Assistant Sully" runs for 2 minutes 14 seconds, Sully dreams of becoming a scarer.
- "End of Day" runs for 2 minutes 35 seconds, Sully breaks a rule and walks through a door into the human world.
- "Bad Scare" runs for 3 minutes, in this scene Sully encounters a human child.
- "Scream Refinery" runs for 1 minute 7 seconds, Sully works in the Monsters, Inc factory.
- "Original Sully Intro" runs for 59 seconds, this was the original introduction to the character, this scene made it to animation and is a combination of near complete and completed.

Following that are a series of storyboard-to-film comparison for the Boo bedtime scene, you can view the scene in three angles: 1. Story Reel, 2. Final Color, 3. Split-Screen Comparison. This feature runs for 5 minutes 42 seconds and you can use your remote to toggle between the three angles or watch them individually. This is a cool way to see the progression of a scene but could have used some audio commentary to explain the process further.

The disc also features a collection of 4 extensive art galleries, these are another wealth of extras that show the development of each character and design for the film, the galleries include:

"Characters" features:

- Mike Wazowski, which includes 42 images.
- James P. Sullivan, which includes 137 images.
- Boo, which includes 60 images.
- Sulley and Boo, which includes 9 images.
- Henry J. Waternoose, which includes 21 images.
- Randall, which includes 28 images.
- Rivera, which includes 3 images.
- Celia, which includes 19 images.
- Roz, which includes 15 images.
- Fungus, which includes 4 images.
- Jerry, which includes 6 images.
- Ted, which includes 6 images.
- Smitty, which includes 13 images.
- Needleman, which includes 2 images.
- George, which includes 4 images.
- Claws, which includes 6 images.
- Bile, which includes 6 images.
- Harley, which includes 9 images.
- Bud, which includes 3 images.
- Bob, which includes 4 images.
- Ricky, which includes 4 images.
- CDA, which includes 11 images.
- Monsters Wannabe's, which includes 46 images.
- Yeti, which includes 31 images.

"Color Script" features 164 images.

"Concept Art" includes:

- Apartment, which includes 5 images.
- Boo's Bedroom, which includes 6 images.
- Door Station, which includes 16 images.
- Door Vault, which includes 31 images.
- Environments, which includes 35 images.
- Monsters, Inc., which includes 41 images.
- Monstropolis, which includes 72 images.
- Scare Floor, which includes 22 images.

Finally "Posters" features 29 images.

"Designing Monstropolis" is the next featurette which runs for 2 minutes 51 seconds and as the title suggests this is a look at the creation of the city and the various ideas which designers had for it.

"Set Dressing Intro" featurette runs for 3 minutes 22 seconds, takes a look at the set dressing and what animators had to create to fill the world with props and other things, it's a brief clip that could have easily been expanded upon.

There are 6 "Location Flyarounds" features which runs for 7 minutes 25 seconds and are essentially 360 panoramas of locations created for the film.

In the "Monster File" sub-section we have:

- "Cast of Characters" featurette which runs for 5 minutes 54 seconds and looks at the voice actors that were cast for this film.
- "What Makes a Great Monster?" featurette which runs for 1 minute 27 seconds is a short look at how to create a cool looking monster.

"Animation" is the next sub-section, there are some neat extras here, some brief but worth exploring and features:

- "Animation Process" featurette runs for 3 minutes 14 seconds, takes a look at the complexity of creating a film such as this with detailed characters and CG environments.
- "Early Tests" footage runs for 8 minutes 15 seconds, no audio is included here but fans get a look at the early concept animations for the film, it's a fascinating look at how the film evolved.
- "Opening Title Animation" featurette runs for 2 minutes 9 seconds, takes a look at the creation of the opening title sequence.
- "Hard Parts" featurette runs for 5 minutes 1 seconds, takes a look at the challenges the animation team faced with this film.
- "Shots Department" featurette runs for 2 minutes 15 seconds, takes a look at the department and what they do specifically.
- "Progression Demonstration" is split into two further sections:
- - "Progression Demo" introduction runs for 42 seconds co-director Lee Unkrich welcomes viewers to what they'll find here.
- - "Progression Demonstration" reel features a scene that can be viewed in 4 different angles: 1. Storyreel, 2. Layout, 3. Animation, 4. Final Color and runs for 1 minute 50 seconds.

The "Music and Sound" sub-section features:

- "Monster Song" featurette which runs for 3 minutes 17 seconds, features interviews with John Goodman and Billy Crystal talking about the duet of the song "If I Didn't Have You" they sing for the film. The clip also features Randy Newman.
- "Sound Design" featurette runs for 4 minutes 16 seconds, and is a fascinating look at the process of creating cool and unique sounds and score that fill the sound space of this film.

The "Release" sub-section includes:

- "The Premiere" featurette, a very short 58 second clip that is a montage of footage taken at the film's World Premiere.

There is also a collection of theatrical trailers and TV spots that include:

- Theatrical trailer #1 which runs for 1 minute 51 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer #2 which runs for 1 minute 21 seconds.
- TV spot: "Men in Teal" which runs for 33 seconds.
- TV spot: "Your Eye" which runs for 33 seconds.
- TV spot: "Green Skin" which runs for 33 seconds.
- TV spot: "Your Eye #1 Review" which runs for 18 seconds.
- "International Inserts" featurette runs for 1 minute 8 seconds, is a look at how Pixar adapts these films for multiple countries.
- "Multi-Language" clip reel runs for 3 minutes 47 seconds, allows viewers to watch a scene from the film in different languages.
- "Toys" featurette runs for 1 minute 32 seconds and is a promotional clip about the toys that were made for the film, essentially a way to display the merchandise.
- Outtakes and Company Play runs for 5 minutes 27 seconds, and are funny bloopers.
- "Wrap-Up" featurette runs for 46 seconds, the Pixar crew says goodbye and hints at some Easter Eggs.

The second section on this disc is the "Monsters Only" section and features the following supplements under several sub-sections:

The first sub-section is "New Monster Adventures" and features:

- "Monster TV Treats" promos runs for 1 minute 13 seconds, and features a series f promotional clips for the film.
- "Ponkickies 21" with optional subtitles are Japanese TV clips that feature:
- - "Janken" runs for 37 seconds.
- - "Lucky Door Game" runs for 57 seconds.

The disc also includes the "If I Didn't Have You" music video by Randy Newman which runs for 1 minute 12 seconds.

"Behind the Screams" features: "On the Job with Mike and Sully" a special report clip that runs for 2 minutes 33 seconds. This is a funny fake news clip featuring our favorite characters.

The final sub-section is entitled "Orientation" and includes the following:

- "Welcome to Monsters, Inc." commercial which runs for 56 seconds, the full ad that we see in the film.
- "Your First Day" company overview clip runs for 3 minutes 37 seconds, an instructional video on working in the scare factory.
- "History of the Monster World" animated short runs for 1 minute 36 seconds, takes a funny look at the history of the monsters.

DISC THREE: DVD

This is a DVD copy of the film and features the same audio commentary from the Blu-ray release by director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, executive producer/screenwriter Andrew Stanton and executive producer John Lasseter.

There is also a sound effects only track presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround.

The DVD is also THX certified and features an "optimizer" for getting the best out of your home theater.

DISC FOUR:

This is a digital copy of the film.

Packaging

This 4-disc set is packaged in a deluxe Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: A+ Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A+

 


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