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Monster House in 3D (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 2, 2010 by  



“Monster House in 3D”  features an upgraded release of the previous 2006 Blu-ray, includes both the original 2D version and a 3D version of the film.  3D does showcase good separation between the characters, objects and backgrounds.  How 3D is utilized is subjective to the viewer but I felt it was good and it worked with this 2006 film but at the same time, the 3D was nothing revolutionary.  But for those who enjoyed the film and have not owned the Blu-ray previously, “Monster House in 3D” is worth the purchase and if you have a 3D enabled TV and player, then you also have that extra bonus of having a 3D version of the movie.

Images courtesy of © 2006 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and GH One LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Monster House in 3D

YEAR OF FILM RELEASE: 2006

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) 2D and 3D MVC Encoded 3D, Full Resolution L/R Eye, English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (For scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language)

RELEASE DATE: September 14, 2010

Directed by Gil Kenan

Screenplay by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Pamela Pettier

Story by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab

Executive Producer: Jason Clark, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis

Producer: Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey

Associate Producer: Heather Kelton, Bennett Schneir

Line Producer: Peter M. Tobyansen

Music by Douglas Pipes

Cinematography by Paul C. Babin, Xavier Perez Grobet

Edited by Fabienne Rawley, Adam P. Scott

Casting by Scot Boland, Victoria Burrows

Production Design by Ed Verreaux

Art Direction by Norman Newberry, Greg Papalia

Set Decoration by Kate J. Sullivan

Costume Design by Ruth Myers

Starring:

Steve Buscemi as Nebbercracker

Mitchel Musso as DJ

Catherine O’Hara as Mom

Fred Willard as Dad

Sam Lerner as Chowder

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Zee

Jason Lee as Bones

Spencer Locke as Jenny

Kevin James as Officer Landers

Nick Cannon as Officer Lister

Jon Heder as Reginald “Skull” Skulinski

Kathleen Turner as Constance

Even for a 12-year old, D.J. Walters has a particularly overactive imagination. He is convinced that his haggard and crabby neighbor Horace Nebbercracker, who terrorizes all the neighborhood kids, is responsible for Mrs. Nebbercracker’s mysterious disappearance. Any toy that touches Nebbercracker’s property, promptly disappears, swallowed up by the cavernous house in which Horace lives. D.J. has seen it with his own eyes! But no one believes him, not even his best friend, Chowder. What everyone does not know is D.J. is not imagining things. Everything he’s seen is absolutely true and it’s about to get much worse than anything D.J could have imagined.

For many fans of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis and the work they did with the “Back to the Future” films, the news that the two would collaborate on another project made fans highly anticipating their next film.

The collaboration would bethe 1996 CG animated film “Monster House” as the two filmmakers would serve as executive producers and utilizing performance capturing that was used in Zemeckis’ film “The Polar Express”.  Directing the film would be Gil Kenan (“City of Ember”) and feature a screenplay by Dan Harmon (“Community”, “The Sarah Silverman Program”, “Channel 101”), Rob Schrab (“The Sarah Silverman Program”, “Channel 101”) and Pamela Pettler (“Corpse Bride”, “9”).

The film would feature the voices of Steve Buscemi (“Armageddon”, “The Big Lebowski”, “28 Days”), Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Dark Knight”, “Donnie Darko”, “Mona Lisa Smile”), Mitchel Musso (“Hannah Montana”, “Phineas and Ferb”), Sam Lerner (“The Secret Saturdays”) and Spencer Locke (“Cougar Town”, “Big Time Rush”, “Twentysixmiles”).  As well, as other talents such as Kathleen Turner, Jon Heder, Nick Cannon, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara.

“Monster House” was created with a $75 million budget and grossed over $140 million in the box office.  The film was released on DVD and also one of the first animated films to be released on Blu-ray (2006) and will now be released on Blu-ray in 3D on Sept. 14th.  It’s important to note that this Blu-ray release also features a new upgraded version of “Monster House” in HD as well.

The film revolves around DJ Walters (voiced by Mitchel Musso), a boy who spies on Mr. Nebbercracker (voiced by Steve Buscemi), a cranky, creepy older man who doesn’t like people walking on his yard.  If anyone loses a ball or bike, he will confiscate it and not return it.   DJ happens to watch a young girl lose her tricycle on Nebbercracker’s yard and has been keeping tabs on the things Nebbercracker had confiscated.

With Halloween coming up, DJ’s parents are leaving for the weekend and leave him in the care of his babysitter Elizabeth “Zee” (voiced by Maggie Gyllenhaal), a hard rock girl who actually is a nice girl in front of his parents but looks at the opportunity of babysitting as a way to be alone with her boyfriend Bones (voiced by Jason Lee).

One day when DJ and his friend Chowder (voiced by Sam Lerner) are playing ball, the ball lands on Nebbercracker’s lawn and as DJ tries to pick it up, Nebbercracker comes out and starts screaming at DJ and tries to grab him.  But in the process, Nebbercracker collapses and DJ and Chowder think Nebbercracker is dead.  When the paramedics come, DJ finds a gold key that Nebbercracker had dropped.  Meanwhile, that night, someone tries to call DJ and when he does a star 69, he hears the call going to the Nebbercracker’s house.  Someone in the house is trying to call him.

DJ sneaks out of the house at night and he and Chowder talk that someone is there even though Nebbercracker is gone (they think he is dead).  When Chowder tries to ding-dong-ditch the house, the house reacts and tries to eat him.  Chowder escapes and both run back to the house feeling the house is alive (and evil).

Meanwhile, the following day, Jennifer “Jenny” Bennett (voiced by Spencer Locke) is trying to sell Halloween chocolates and as she goes door to door, DJ and Chowder see her going towards Nebbercracker’s house.  As they run to stop her, Jenny is then attacked by the house but the three manage to escape.

They try to call the cops, but police officers Landers and Lester (voiced by Kevin James and Nick Cannon) do not believe them.

The kids then try to get advice from Reginald “Skull” Skulinski about the house and he tells them that a human soul had merged with the house.  The kids come to the conclusion is that Nebbercracker has fused with the house and the only way to kill the house is to destroy its heart.

Meanwhile, the house has eaten Zee’s ex-boyfriend Bones and police officers Landers and Lester.  So, now DJ, Chowder and Jenny go on a mission to get inside the house to destroy it.

VIDEO:

“Monster House in 3D” has two versions of the film, 2D and 3D.  The 2D version is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) and the 3D version is presented in MVC Encoded 3D – Full Resolution L/R Eye.

“Monster House” is a film that utilizes performance capture technology.  Black levels are nice and deep, there is a faux fine layer of grain, there is a good amount of detail on the clothing, especially how you can see the threading in DJ’s sweater and for a film created in 2006, the film still holds up today.   It may not have the super detail of today’s CG animated films but the film still holds up quite well but of course, it will look a bit dated since 3D technology is improving at a quick rate.

But the biggest difference between this release is that the film is presented in AVC not MPEG-2.  Also, the previous release was utilizing the older BD-25 (which many films on Blu-ray were released on).

But the real purpose for people wanting this release is the 3D.  With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s awesome release of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3D” earlier this year, this is the second 3D offering from the company.

It’s important to note that to play this 3D, you will need a TV that is 3D enabled and comes with its own 3D glasses (or purchase them separately in pack) and also a Blu-ray player that is 3D-enabled as well.

With that being said, I do have personal opinions on 3D.  Films that were created and made for 3D such as “Avatar” (which was exceptionally done) and then there are films in 3D such as “Toy Story 3” in which the animation was great but the 3D was good especially of how the backgrounds were utilized.  And these two films have something in common, they are newer films.

With “Monster House” and possibly more older films in the near future, we are going to see these older films being given the 3D treatment.   So, here are my impressions on “Monster House in 3D”.  Backgrounds are well utilized as we can see the characters pop from the original backgrounds.   We can see how the trees that are lined up on the side of Nebbercracker’s home really do stick out in 3D.   Another good example of 3D usage is something as basic as the steps of Nebbercracker’s home looking very good, especially the blades of grass which looks very good in 3D.   The more action driven scenes especially as the kids try to destroy the house is well done but once again, it’s mostly how objects stand out.  It’s well done but for me, it’s not the 3D I prefer.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Monster House in 3D” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and also Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The previous release was presented in LPCM 5.1 (and English, French and Korean Dolby Digital 5.1).  “Monster House in 3D” features an impressive soundtrack as you can hear the creaks and cracks when the monster house begins to expand and swallow things around it.  You can hear the leaves and fire and ambiance through the surround channels, while hearing LFE during the more action-driven scenes.

Dialogue is crisp and clear as well as the music from composer Douglas Pipes.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Monster House in 3D” comes with the following special features:

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D Sneak Peek – For those with a 3D enabled TV and the 3D glasses that came with the television and a 3D enabled Blu-ray player can watch a sneak peek of the 3D version of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D” (which is currently available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).
  • Open House 3D Sneak Peek – For those with a 3D enabled TV and the 3D glasses that came with the television and a 3D enabled Blu-ray player can watch a sneak peek of the 3D version of “Open House 3D” (which is currently available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).
  • Filmmakers Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Gil Kenan and a few others who worked on the film.  Unfortunately, aside from the director, the other people don’t identify themselves in the beginning of the commentary.  But overall, a very informative commentary which goes into detail on the characters, the scenes in the film and more.
  • Inside Monster House – (24:40) Featuring the following featurettes (in standard definition): Imaginary Heroes, Beginners Luck, The Best of Friends, Lots of Dots, Black Box Theater, Making It Real and Did You Hear That?
  • Evolution of a Scene: Eliza vs. Nebbercracker – (20:00) Featuring the following opening scene of little Eliza and Nebbercracker and how this scene went through various formats before its finalization.  Director Gil Kenan and artists discuss what they were trying to achieve.  Featuring the featurette, story reel animatic, performance capture, layout stage, animation, final film and composite.  Presented in standard definition.
  • The Art of Monster House – Using your remote, you can view conceptual art, character designs with the people of the animated film, places and things and more.

I absolutely love “Monster House” and love the characters, especially how the creators were able to work in the facial expressions for DJ, Chowder, Jenny and Zee.  Loved the more darker, scarier storyline.  It’s a bit macabre when you think of who is possessing the house and how it happened, especially how Nebbercracker was created.    The voice acting also made the film much more enjoyable as there is a considerable amount of talent who worked on this film.

Although the film has children as the main leads, this is a PG film and I can tell you right now that I’ve tried to show this too my child (seven year old) and he was scared and refused to watch more than 15 minutes of it, suffice to say, Nebbercracker freaked him out.  So, I wouldn’t be surprised if other parents experienced the same situation with their children.

But what many people will want to know about “Monster House in 3D” is how the overall 3D experience is and as mentioned earlier, I have my opinions when it comes to how 3D is being utilized with today’s films.

In my opinion, for me, there are two types of films in 3D and it depends on what kind of the 3D you like.  As mentioned, “Avatar” or even “Captain EO” which I watched in Disneyland many times which features creatures and things flying up to you.  That is the 3D I love.  But with 3D in which characters and objects look in 3D and things stand out (like “Toy Story 3”), I’m not as impressed.  If anything, what I do like about this release is that you are getting both films in 3D and 2D and giving viewers that extra incentive.  Especially giving them that extra incentive to watch the movie again and making them wanting to buy the film.

“Monster House in 3D” is a film that I really enjoy watching and even watching it once again, I still haven’t grown tired of it.  I did enjoy seeing how things look in 3D but once again, it’s not the type of 3D that I was hoping for but it does work.  Also, it is important to remind people that “Monster House” is an older animated film (2006) and not like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” which was released this year.  The way 3D was used for that film especially how many things are falling everywhere, was well done.

“Monster House” unfortunately, was not originally created with 3D in mind but yet, the 3D does work.  Not magnificently, but it’s good enough to watch and see how 3D was implemented throughout the film.  But I’m more of the type who wants to see things moving around and I feel like I can put my hand up and feel like about to touch it.

I also feel that 3D is best appreciated for those who have bigger viewing areas.  At a movie theater, you have a much larger screen to work with and I feel that 3D works much better in theater setting but once again, that is my opinion.

But I do feel that “Monster House in 3D” is a fantastic release.  For one, it’s a very good upgrade from the older original release (in fact, I feel that any Blu-ray disc released in 2006-2007 will probably need to be re-released as the format was not exactly properly well-utilized in the beginning) and two, you get the original 2D and 3D versions of the film.  Special features are still the same and I still have a beef with the audio commentary as we don’t know who the heck is talking as the people commenting, didn’t even announce themselves at the beginning of the audio commentary (with the exception of director Gil Kenan).

Overall, I feel that “Monster House in 3D” was an enjoyable release and for those who purchased the original Blu-ray will definitely want this version for the upgrade (and for those who didn’t purchase the Blu-ray earlier and have enjoyed the movie) and by then, you can always go back to it as 3D TV’s and 3D enabled Blu-ray players will become a standard.  If you enjoyed the film for the first time and still don’t own it, then this Blu-ray release is definitely worth considering.






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