Pixar films have, and likely will be for some time, the finest examples of not only CGI animation but just animation in general. Even their weakest efforts eclipse anything that Fox, Dreamworks, or Warner try to do and when Pixar fires on all cylinders and produces a truly great effort there is simply nothing better to witness. Such is the case with Monsters Inc., the fourth film from the studio (and only the second one that wasn’t a Toy Story) that blossomed from a lunch in 1994 between the core group of Pixar heads. The film would go on to receive copious amounts of praise as well as numerous awards and was one of the top grossing Pixar films of all time (until Finding Nemo, at least).
Monsters, Inc. features revolutionary, eye-popping animation and inspired vocal performances by John Goodman, as the lumbering and lovable Sulley, and Billy Crystal, as the wisecracking Mike Wazowski, two monsters employed by Monsters, Inc., the biggest scream processing plant in Monstropolis. When a little girl named Boo wanders into their world, it’s the monsters who are scared silly. Thinking she is dangerous and toxic, Sulley and Mike do their best to return Boo to her bedroom, but there are some monstrous hurdles in their way. Also featuring the delightful voice talents of Bonnie Hunt, Frank Oz, John Ratzenberger and Jennifer Tilly, Monsters, Inc. is frightfully fun entertainment families will want to enjoy over and over in Blu-ray Hi-Def, now available for an SRP of $39.99.
Back in 2001 when I went to see this film in theaters, there were actually few things that stood out to me in terms of story. This is because I was so wrapped up in the visuals of the film to really pay attention the first time around. To this day the fluidity and motion of Sully’s hair remains one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen in animation. And as much as that has progressed in modern day animated films, I still can’t help but be mesmerized by it in this film and it’s one of the things I look forward to most when popping this movie in. The fact that I’d been used to it on DVD for so many years and then finally seeing it on Blu-ray was just stunning. But we’ll tackle that more later on.
The films premise is simple and was an early indication that Pixar movies may cause a grown man to cry. While that’s common place now with Wall-E and Up, the closest we came previously was the sorrowful song in Toy Story 2…but that was music, that was a cheap shot! But Monsters Inc. brought a small child into the mix which just made the eventual heart string yanking scenes that much more powerful. Maybe I’m a big baby, but I’ve had Pixar movies punch harder than a great deal of other dramatic live action films have over the last decade.
The villain in this film, Randall, is a bit strange but then again the whole world this film populates is strange. It’s definitely an interesting film solely for the visuals and animation alone, as most Pixar films are I guess, but there really is a uniqueness to this film simply because of the various monsters we see that inhabit it. Strictly speaking this film is kind of disturbing with the whole “scream extractor” angle, yet Pixar manages to make it scary and not all that frightening to kids at the same time. I’m not sure how they always manage to push the envelope and never take it so far as to give kids nightmares. Granted this film isn’t Nightmare Before Christmas level, but it is pretty close.
Overall Monsters Inc. is, for those who haven’t seen it, a terrific film. One of Pixar’s best and one of my favorites, this film is as entertaining now as it was eight (!) years ago. Highly Recommended.
A few months back the Blu-ray community was abuzz because an overseas copy of this film was released on Blu-ray already. Since it was compatible on U.S. players, many imported it and began weeping over the beauty of the video transfer…a point I can see very clearly now. The U.S. package is the same deal, although we do get a few more discs to round out the package. In all there are four discs (yes…four), two Blu’s, one digital copy and one DVD copy. The DVD copy is literally the first disc from the original two-disc set (it even says “Disc 1” on it), but it’s cool of them to include it here anyway. I’m sure anyone with kids who owned that original set has the first disc scratched to hell anyway. The package itself arrives in a double-wide Elite Blu-ray case (ala Wall-E) and contains the usual inserts and advertisements. An embossed and brushed foil (that’s as best I can describe the texture at least) slipcover is included as well to spice up the presentation of the package a little bit.
The AVC encoded transfer included here is absolutely stunning. Nearly flawless, I’d say, as the 1080p transfer starts off with a visual bang with a whole array of bright colors that make up the films intro. The film itself also has a vibrant color palette, with strong blues, reds, and whatever other shade they throw out…it all looks terrific. The only issue is one with Sully’s hair; now I know it still looks brilliant and breathtaking, but there’s also a bit of an aliasing issue with hair on occasion. It’s not always present and it might just be something that was there during the original production (after all, 7 years ago 1080p wasn’t exactly standard yet and the aliasing is downplayed on a 480p disc). In any case, Monsters Inc.’s transfer is absolutely stunning.
Likewise the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is similarly potent. There’s nothing more gratifying than a surround mix that is actually utilized for something and this mix is just all around the room. From the start there’s surround and subwoofer activity, but it’s the final act with the climactic door storage bit that really flexes the mixes muscles. There’s and incredible amount of surround and subwoofer activity during this sequence…so much so I actually get goose bumps about how fantastic it sounds. It’s just that good. Also included are French and Spanish DD5.1 audio.
Extras are many and include all of the original DVD extras. The full breakdown includes:
• FILMMAKERS ROUND TABLE
O Filmmakers Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Darla Anderson, and Bob Peterson reflect on the creation of the film, and share their most memorable anecdotes.
• MONSTERS, INC. RIDE AND GO SEEK: BUILDING MONSTROPOLIS IN TOKYO
O A sneak peak of the newest Monsters attraction in Tokyo Disneyland, with exclusive interviews of the artists and engineers behind the ride.
PLUS ORIGINAL DVD BONUS FEATURES:
• Commentary by director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, writer Andrew Stanton, and executive producer John Lasseter
• Academy Award® nominated short film “Mike’s New Car“ (With Audio Commentary By
• Academy Award® winning short film “For the Birds” (With Audio Commentary By Director)
**ALL NEW Blu-ray Exclusive Bonus Features **:
• ROZ’S 100 DOOR CHALLENGE (INTERACTIVE GAME)
o Think you have what it takes to be a Monsters, Inc. employee? Roz will be the judge of that with her 100 Door Challenge. Deal with whatever is behind each new door. It could be a puzzle, a trivia question, a mini-game . . . it could be crazy! Do your best. Your future employment at Monsters, Inc. hangs in the balance.
• BD-LIVE FEATURES
o Movie Chat
o Movie Mail
o Movie Challenge
o Movie Rewards
PLUS ORIGINAL DVD BONUS FEATURES:
• Banished Concepts
• Storyboard To Film Comparison
• Monster file
• Animation Gag Reel 1: Sulley/Boo/Waternoose
• Animation Gag Reel 2: Giraffe Gag
• Animation Gag Reel 3: Sulley Bowling Boo
The whole second disc is kind of throw-away, as it’s more of a kids focused disc with some dated extras that really aren’t all that entertaining. Having said that, however, the bonus shorts included on disc 1 in full HD are a welcome treat and just about everything from this fantastic. The three copies of one film is a bit overkill, but Disney is at least covering all possible bases with their recent animated releases. Hard to fault them for that! In the end this set is Highly Recommended. The video and audio mixes are just too fantastic to pass up.
Monsters, Inc. is now available on four-disc Blu-ray.