Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 11th, 2009
“The future is bright at Monsters Incorporated. We power your car. We warm your home. We light your city. Carefuly matching every child to their ideal monster to produce superior scream. Refined into clean, dependable energy. Every time you turn something on, Monsters Incorporated is there. We know the challenge. The window of innocence is shrinking. Human kids are harder to scare. Of course, Monsters Incorporated is prepared for the future. With the top scarers, the best refineries, and research into new energy technologies. We’re working for a better tomorrow, today. We’re Monster’s Incorporated. We scare because we care.”
When you do this job you get asked the same question a lot.You get it from friends, family and people who just met you. They all ask the same thing. “What is your favorite movie of all time?” That’s a hard question, and it’s one that changes from time to time. But if you’re talking animated films, my answer’s been the same for several years now. It’s Monsters, Inc. You hear me gush about Pixar films all of the time here, but with all of their advances on technology, this is still the best film they’ve put out. And that’s saying something.
In the alternative world of Monstropolis, children’s screams provide the clean energy source all monsters rely on to power their everyday lives. Using a sophisticated system of closet doors, scarers enter the bedrooms of unsuspecting children to harness their screams. They scare because they care. When a potentially toxic human child enters the monster realm, reality is turned on its head, and Monstropolis will never be the same.
This is one of those perfect storms of entertainment. You would be hard pressed to find anything to nitpick here. The voice cast couldn’t be more perfectly cast for these characters. Can you imagine anyone other than Billy Crystal and John Goodman as Mike and Sully respectively? The two have chemistry I rarely see even when actors share the screen together. They do with their voices what few teams are able. I completely buy this friendship all the way. The supporting cast are all equally suited for their parts. Producer Bob Peterson isn’t even an actor, but Roz comes to life in a way that strikes a chord with all of us. Who hasn’t had a co-worker exactly like her? Pixar animator Rob Gibbs’ daughter provided the wonderful voice of Boo. Just as much a part of the character as the animation itself, Mary’s voice adds an element of warmth and authenticity that you just don’t get in these features today. If you can watch and listen to that character without cracking a smile, then you’re a whole other kind of monster yourself.
Pixar does it again with their animation. The technology has improved and they remain at the vanguard, but I can’t imagine this ever looking dated. Textures, movement, environments, they all blend together flawlessly to allow us the ability to enjoy the film and stop thinking about the animation.
There ought to be a law requiring everyone with a Blu-ray player to own a copy of Monsters, Inc. You’re just not getting the best out of your high definition experience if you don’t own this film. All those in favor, say aye.
Monsters, Inc is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It’s a wonderful 1080p image utilizing an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. The bit rate stays a healthy 30mbps through much of the film. One of the greatest technical achievements here was the reproduction of fur and how it interacts with its environment. Until now such textures were largely unconvincing. The high definition detail on this release allows you to appreciate the incredible renderings like never before. It’s not just the hair itself but the way air moves it. A wonderful example of this detail and masterful computer animation can be found when Sully is lying on the ground during a snowstorm. The flakes of snow lie on the fur so convincingly you really have a hard time believing this is simply animation. Colors are magnificent here. Black levels are about as deep and vividly defined as you could hope for with current technology. When it comes to Pixar, I’ve said it before. It just doesn’t get any better in the image presentation.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is nearly as spectacular as the image. Surrounds offer just enough nuance to add to the near-real atmosphere you get here. Many of Boo’s giggles and jibberish come at you in a well defined directional presentation. If you hear something the image corresponds perfectly. Dialog is placed right where it needs to be and you’ll hear every word. The sound is crystal clear even when high volume and bass are presented, particularly when the power station reacts to Boo’s laughter. The sub is more active than you would expect on an animated feature. Finally, Randy Newman’s score is whimsical and cheerful in this uncompressed audio presentation.
There is a hilarious commentary by many of the Pixar crew. If they had half the fun working on the film that they had on that commentary, it’s no wonder it works as well as it does.
There are 4 discs here. There is a DVD copy of the film as well as the standard digital copy. There are also two Blu-ray discs. Disc one contains the film and the following features:
Blu-ray Intro: (1:31) HD Director Pete Docter gives a welcome and talks about the features of the new release.
Filmmaker’s Round Table: (21:35) HD Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Darla Anderson, and Bob Peterson literally sit at a small round table at Pixar’s Hidden City Café. Here they have an intimate and informal conversation. They share their favorite moments and offer a lot of insight both into the film and working at Pixar. You also get some storyboards and pre-viz sequences. There’s even footage taken from Pixar on 9/11. They were still working on the film when the attacks came. They did remove a rather sensitive scene involving how Harryhausen’s is destroyed. You get to see the original scene where it goes up in a mushroom cloud. It ends with a hint about a sequel, which is on the schedule.
Ride And Go Seek – Building Monstropolis In Japan: (7:58) HD A new Pixar theme area has been built for Disneyland Tokyo. It includes a flashlight tag game very much like the Men In Black Alien Attack ride at Universal in Florida. Go behind the scenes on the ride and area. It’s pretty cool stuff. There’s talk of some of this coming to Orlando.
For The Birds: (3:21) HD This is the short that accompanied the film in theaters.
Mike’s New Car: (3:47) HD Another short where Mike gets a new car and everything goes wrong when he tries to show it off to Sully. You have the option of a unique commentary featuring the children of two of Pixar’s animators.
Roz’s 100 Door Challenge: It’s a 100 question quiz game.
Pixar Fun Factory Tour: (3:46) SD Bob Lassiter takes you on a tour behind the scenes at Pixar.
Story Is King: (2:03) SD See how the storyboards are pitched at Pixar.
Monsters Are Real: (1:31) SD What do the cast and crew think about monsters in the real world?
Original Treatment: (13:43) HD Watch the originally intended story through storyboards and narration.
Story Pitch – Back To Work: (4:39) SD A sequence of the film being pitched.
Banished Concepts: A collection of deleted scenes told through storyboards.
Monsters Incorporated Orientation Reel: A three part orientation for new employees at the company. It mostly incorporates stuff from the film and is in standard definition.
I’m a sucker for this kind of pure entertainment. Look for some great in-jokes. The pivotal sushi bar is named for the great Ray Harryhausen. Ray’s a wonderful guy and a friend. It’s so good to see his pioneering efforts honored so here. There are countless Pixar images from other films including Finding Nemo and Toy Story. It’s a treasure hunt of references. It’s a different experience each time. So, sit yourself down with this amazing animated feature, and don’t forget to “say hello to the scream extractor”.