Monster House (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (24th October 2013).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Young DJ always knew there was something strange about the old Nebbercracker house across the street. When the house becomes a living, breathing monster, DJ enlists his pals Chowder and Jenny to learn the secret that keeps the house alive. Suddenly, they find themselves in a hair-raising battle with an unstoppable entity and must save the neighbourhood from total devastation. From Executive Producers Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express, Back to the Future trilogy) and Steven Spielberg (E.T., Jurassic Park) comes MONSTER HOUSE - a movie that is so much fun you'll want to watch it again and again!

Stay off the lawn!

Video

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment release the animated family film onto 3D Blu-ray in the original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The transfer is 1080p and uses an MVC codec. The 2D version is also 1080p, and uses an AVC MPEG-4 codec, a step-up from the MPEG-2 transfer found on the standalone 2D release.

Being just the second movie to come out of Sony's Real3D studio, you might expect that the 3D is not up to the standards we have become used to seeing in 2013, 7 years after this title first hit cinema screens. You'd be wrong, because although popouts are perhaps a little more rare than more recent 3D CGI films, this has great depth. The only downfall I found in the entire 3D transfer was some occasional ghosting (twice) and one instance of crosstalk (though this varies depending on your equipment). Some of the better 3D moments include the journey through the haunted house, just before it 'pukes' up the children, and the construction equipment towards the end. Colours are bright and vivid when required, and black levels appear to be absolutely perfect with no sign of crushing. I also noticed no aliasing or edge enhancement. As to be expected for a recent animated feature from one of the major studios, there is no damage to the print.

The disc is region free, and the feature runs 90:37.

Audio

This release features what is quite possibly the largest number of audio options I have come across in all my years of film watching:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English Audio Description Track Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
- Arabic Dolby Digital 5.1
- Croatian Dolby Digital 5.1
- Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
- Danish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Finnish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Greek Dolby Digital 5.1
- Hebrew Dolby Digital 5.1
- Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
- Icelandic Dolby Digital 5.1
- Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1
- Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
- Slovene Dolby Digital 5.1
- Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1

Now, for obvious reasons, I opted for the original English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, a surprise considering the standalone 2D release features PCM audio. Like the transfer, it's pretty outstanding. The sound field is extremely well utilised, with such subtle effects as rustling leaves, and a child's tricycle going past, to the more enthusiastic elements of the house coming alive and transforming. The LFE also gets a worthy workout with a mix of both low rumblings, and full on blasts. Channel separation and effect direction was perfect. There are no audio dropouts or scratches, and there was no background hiss.

Subtitles are available in Arabic, Bulgarian, Croation, Czech, Danish, English, English HoH, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Swedish, Turkish and Ukranian.

Extras

We start the extras off with an audio commentary with director Gil Kenan and guests. I say guests, because none of the four participants adhere to rule number one of recording an audio commentary; introducing yourself. Still, it's a reasonably technical commentary and although the information given is often interesting, it's given in quite a monotonous manner and there are also a couple of short quiet spots. The animation, how the project came about, and how certain cast members voiced their characters are just some of the items on the itinerary.

Next up, we have a section of featurettes entitled "Inside Monster House": ('Play All' option):
- Imaginary Heroes (3:31)
- Beginnerís Luck (2:27)
- The Best Of Friends (2:43)
- Lots Of Dots (2:30)
- Black Box Theater (4:15)
- Making It Real (6:05)
- Did You Hear That? (2:57)
This series of short featurettes show us many of the behind the scenes aspects that went into getting Monster House made. The highlight for me was Beginner's Luck which shows the cast members dressed up in the motion capture suits as they get filmed. It could obviously become a stressful atmosphere at times working with the very hyperactive pre-teen cast, who also got a bit bored of getting the 70 motion capture dots glued to their face every day. Even though this was an animated feature, hair and make-up would still take up to an hour each day.

"Evolution Of A Scene: Eliza Vs. Nebbercracker":
- Featurette (2:55)
- Eliza [6 multi-angle: story reel animatic, performance capture, layout stage, animation, final film and a composite of the other 5] (2:49)
This is a look at the various layers of the animation process to get to finished product. The only unfortunate thing with this piece, like the ones before it, is it is far too short to get into any real depth.

"The Art Of Monster House":
- Conceptual Art (59 frames)
- People (67 stills)
- Places and Things (38 stills)
Basically, these are just some galleries.

Bonus Scenes (3D):
- Open Season (1:28)
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1:31)
A couple of additional scenes in 3D, from other Sony movies. Not much to it really.

Overall

Cracking A/V, but the extras required more depth - the featurettes are all far too short!

3D = B+

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

 


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