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Monsters, Inc. (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 31, 2009 by  



A Pixar animated classic, 2001 film “Monsters, Inc.” makes its first debut in High Definition and looks absolutely fantastic!   The new lossless soundtrack definitely takes the film to a new level.  And for those who are wondering about content, there’s around 60 special features included.  Overall, this is a fantastic release and fans of the film will definitely want to pick this one up.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2001, 2009 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Monsters, Inc.

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences – All Ages Admitted)

RELEASE DATE: November 10, 2009

Directed by Pete Docter

Co-Directed by David Silverman and Lee Unkrich

Story by Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, Ralph Eggleston

Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson

Additional Screenplay Material by Robert L. Baird, Rhett Reese, Jonathan Roberts

Executive Producer: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

Producer: Darla K. Anderson

Associate Producer: Kori Rae

Music by Randy Newman

Edited by Robert Grahamjones, Jim Stewart

Casting by Matthew Jon Beck, Mary Hidalgo, Ruth Lambert

Production Design by Harley Jessup, Bob Pauley

Art Direction by Tia W. Kratter, Dominique Louis

Production Management: Katherine Sarafian

Featuring the voices of:

John Goodman as James P. “Sulley” Sullivan

Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski

Mary Gibbs as Boo/Mary

Steve Buscemi as Randall Boggs

James Coburn as Henry J. Waternoose

Jennifer Tilly as Celia

Bob Peterson as Roz

John Ratzenberger as the Abominable Snowman

Frank Oz as Fungus

Daniel Gerson as Needleman/Smitty

Bonnie Hunt as Flint

Jeff Pidgeon as Bile

Samuel Lord Black as George Sanderson

Experience the film that captured the hearts of critics and fans around the world in a breathtaking new way.  Monsters, Inc. is “visually dazzling, action-packed and hilarious,” raves the Boston Herald.  And now, with eye-popping, crystal-clear visuals and theater-quality sound, it’s even better on Disney Blu-ray Hi-Def!

Lovable Sulley (John Goodman) and his wisecracking sidekick Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are the top scare team at Monsters, Inc., the scream processing factory in Monstropolis.  When a little girl named Boo wonders into their world, it’s the monsters who are scared silly, and it’s up to Sulley and Mike to keep her out of sight and get her back home.

Open the door to a fantastic world of fun and imagination that will have you screaming for more.  Featuring never-before-seen bonus features.  Including Raz’s 100-Door Challenge Game, the original DVD and a DisneyFile Digital Copy of the movie, Monsters, Inc. is a sensational now experience on Disney Blu-ray.

With Disney films being released on video one year and not receiving a release seven, eight or more years  later, the popular Pixar Animation Studios film “Monsters, Inc.” receives its High Definition release on Blu-ray in a four disc set which includes the Blu-ray, a Blu-ray special features disc, a DVD and a DisneyFile Digital copy.

“Monsters, Inc.” was Pixar’s fourth animated feature and marked the directorial debut for Pete Docter (Director for “Up” and a writer for the first two “Toy Story” films).  Docter is joined by co-directors David Silverman (“The Simpsons Movie”, “The Road to El Dorado”) and Lee Unkrich (co-director for “Toy Story 2” and “Finding Nemo”).

The original story is written by Pete Docter, Jill Culton (director for “Open Season” and worked on the “Toy Story” films and “A Bug’s Life”), Jeff Pidgeon (who worked on “The Toy Story” films and “Wall-E”) and Ralph Eggleston (who worked on “Up”, “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story”) with a screenplay by Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story” films, “A Bug’s Life”, “Finding Nemo”, “Wall-E”) and Daniel Gerson (“Chicken Little”, “Cars”, “Meet the Robinsons”).

Music for the film is by well-known composer and musician, Randy Newman (“Cars”, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, “Meet the Fockers”, “Toy Story 2”).

The film achieved critical and also commercial success as it made over $525 million worldwide and will now make its High Definition debut.

“Monsters, Inc.” revolves around a corporation known as Monsters, Inc..   The company specializes in sending monsters out to the human world through their closets and by capturing the screams of children.  The screams are what produces energy in the monster world.

The top scaring monster at Monsters, Inc. is James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman, “Roseanne”, “The Princess and the Frog”, “Speed Racer”, a big blue behemoth that can create a giant scare but really is a good-natured monster.  Sulley’s sidekick Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal, “When Harry Met Sally”, “City Slickers”, “Throw Momma of the Train”) is a guy who lives off Sulley’s popularity and wants to date the Celia (voiced by Meg Tilly).

The owner of  Monsters, Inc., Henry J. Watermoose (voiced by James Coburn, “Hudson Hawk”, “Young Guns II”, “The Nutty Professor” ) wants more production from the monsters.  Because more human children are no longer scared by the monsters like before, he wants his top monsters to show other monsters how to be scary.

But Sulley is not the only top scary monster at Monsters, Inc., his rival Randall Bogs (voiced by Steve Buscemi, “The Big Lebowski”, “Armageddon”, “The Sopranos”) is determined to surpass Sulley in the rankings and will do what he can to get there.

All seems well one day until Sulley finds a door on the scare floor after hours (which Boggs was using) which is illegal.  Upon checking out the door, Sulley realizes its leading to an actual human’s bedroom.  A young human girl discovers him and thinks he wants to play.  Fearing for his life (the monsters are told a human touch from a child will kill them), Sulley escapes quickly out the door and back to the floor.  But things get hairy when he finds out that the girl which he names “Boo” has escaped from the human world and is now in the monster world.

With a fear of humans, Sulley knows this can lead to catastrophe and panic and gets his friend Mike to help him return the child back to the human world.  So, the two try to secretly hide Boo from other monsters the best that they can and try to send her back to the human world.  But with Boggs suspicious of the two, what happens when monsters discover that a human girl is in their world.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Monsters, Inc.” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  For a 2001 CG animated film, the film still holds up as the fur/hair effects look absolutely beautiful as we see the blue hairy sheen of Sulley and even the woolly abominable snowman.  Detail of Boggs purple reptilian skin and Mike’s green skin are much more detailed in High Definition over its DVD counterpart.  The film utilizes quite a bit of color and so fans of the film can expect the film to look vibrant on HD.  As expected from a Walt Disney Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic.  Colors are vibrant, blacks are deep, no sign of major compression or banding.  Eight years later, “Monsters, Inc.” continues to look incredible and the Blu-ray’s picture quality does not disappoint at all.

As for audio, “Monsters, Inc.” receives its first lossless audio and director Pete Docter opens up the Blu-ray by explaining how the film has received a revamp for its audio.  Featured in English 5.1 DTS-HD MAster Audio (as well as French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital), from the moment you hear the scream capsules electrify very early in the film, you literally hear the electricity all around you.  Great use of surrounds and also rear surround channels throughout moments in the film.  Especially scenes that have ambiance and many monsters, you can hear their faint voices through the surrounds.  Good amount of LFE and for the most part, the film sounds great.  Although not incredibly immersive as recent Pixar films (such as the recent release of “Up”), the lossless audio for “Monsters, Inc.” is still fantastic.

The film is crystal clear as it is hear through the front and center channels.  Randy Newman’s music sounds incredible and for the most part, the soundtrack is quite solid and definitely a major improvement over its DVD counterpart.

Subtitles are featured in English SDH, French and Spanish.

As for the DVD, the DVD is featured in widescreen (1:85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions and audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Ex. S ubtitles are in English SDH only.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Monsters, Inc.” comes with the following special features presented in 1080p High Definition, English, French and Spanish 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital and subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.  Of course, with a lot of the features are from the original DVD, it’s understandable that those features will be in standard definition and do a look a bit dated but content-wise, if you add everything up, there’s probably around 60 or more special features included.

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary byPete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter.  A very informative and fun commentary about the behind-the-scenes making of the film.
  • Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek: Building Monstropolis in Japan – (12:00) Go behind the scenes of the new attraction Tokyo Disneyland. Interviews with the artist and engineers who created the ride.  I was absolutely in awe when I saw this ride.  Incredible!
  • Filmmakers’ Round Table – (22:00) Filmmakers Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Darla Anderson and Bob Peterson reflect on the creation of the film and talk about their favorite moments in creating the film at Hidden City Cafe.  And yes, there is talk about the chimp.
  • For the Birds – (3:21) An animated short featuring a group of malicious birds who find themselves in trouble when they pick on the wrong victim.  Includes optional audio commentary by director Ralph Eggleston.
  • Mike’s New Car – (3:46) Mike shows off his fancy new six-wheel-drive car loaded with gadgets to his friend Sulley.  Includes optional audio commentary by the filmmaker’s sons.  An enjoyable commentary by the two kids.
  • Previews – Trailers for upcoming releases

DISC 2:

  • Roz’s 100 Door Challenge – Take Roz’s employee placement exam to see where you best fit within Monsters, Inc.
  • Humans Only – This section features the following:

– Pixar Fun Factory Tour – (3:34) Explore the nooks and crannies of the Pixar studios.

– Story – Featuring the following features: Story is King – (2:00) How the story department works at Pixar; Monsters are Real – (1:29) Seeing is believing – how the cast and crew of the film regard the Monster World; Original Treatment – (13:40) The original pitch for the film, with some surprising differences; Story Pitch: Back to Work – (4:36) Story Supervisor Bob Peterson pitches a scene to the production team.

– Banished Concepts – Featuring the following special features:  Intro to Banished Concepts – Co-director Lee Unkrich discusses the fate of five scenes that were banished from the film’s final Cut: Assistant Salley (2:15), End of Day (2:22), Bad Scare (2:51), Scream Refinery (1:06) and Original Sulley Intro (1:00).

– Storyboard to Film Comparison – Featuring the following special features: Story Reel (5:14) – Watch the storyreel version of the Boo bedtime scene, Watch the final version of the Boo Bedtime scene (5:14), Split-Screen Comparison – (5:14) Watch the split-screen comparison of the Boo bedtime scene.

– Art Gallery – Using your remote, you can view Character Design and Production Artwork from Monsters, Inc.

– Designing Monstropolis – (4:48) Designing the world of Monstropolis.

– Set Dressing Intro – (3:24) How the sets of the film were designed and staged.

– Location, Playgrounds – (7:25) CG animation of various setups such as Boo’s bedroom, Monstropolis neighborhood and more.

– Monster File – Featuring the following features: Cast of Characters – (5:51) Meet the cast of performers who bring the characters to life.  What Makes a Great Monster – (1:24) The evolution of Monsters, Inc. character designs.

– Animation – Featuring the following features: Animation Process – (3:11) A look at the animation of Monsters, Inc.; Early Tests – (8:02) An early animation test of Mike and Sulley; Opening Title Animation – (2:06) The design of the title sequence; Hard Parts – (4:58) The artistic challenges of creating the film; Shots Department – (2:16) New simulation was added as a step in the Pixar production process.  Production Demonstration is a subsection which features the following: Production Demo Intro – Co-Director Lee Unkrich introduces the stages of animation: Storyreel – (1:50) the Storyreel version of the scene “23-19!”, Layout – (1:50) The layout version of the scene – “23-19!”, Animation – (1:50) The animation version of the scene “23-19!”, Final Color – (1:50) The final color version of the scene “23-19!”.

– Music & Sound – Featuring the following features: Monster Song – (4:13) Billy Crystal and John Goodman sing “If I Didn’t Have You”. Sound Design – (3:15) – Sound designer Gary Rydstrom reveals some of the secrets behind the sound design of the film.

– Release: Featuring the following features: The Premiere – (0:56) Footage of teh film’s premiere screening featuring the stars and filmmakers.  Also features:  Trailers and TV spots – Trailer #1 (1:52) and #2 (1:19), TV Spot: Men in Teal (0:30), TV: Spot: Your Eye (0:30), TV Spot: Green Skin (0:30), TV Spot: Your Eye #1 Review (0:30), International Inserts – (1:06) How the film was customized for worldwide appreciation, Multi-language: Clip Reel – (3:45) A section of the film translated into thirteen different languages, Toys – (1:29) An overview of the toys created from the film, Outtakes and Company Play – (7:00) Full-frame versions of the outtakes and Company Play that appeared in the theatrical credits.

– Wrap-Up – (0:42) The filmmakers conclude their production tour of the Pixar studio.

  • Monsters Only – Featuring the following features:

– New Monster Adventures – Monsters TV Treats – (1:09) A funny collection of Monsters, Inc. TV vignettes, Ponkickie 21 – A randomized version of “Rocks, Papers, Scissors” from Japan, “If I Didn’t Have You” Music Video – (1:11) A montage of favorite movie moments cut to the song.

– Behind the Screams – On the Job with Mike & Sulley – (2:31) An interview with Mike and Sulley about daily life at Monsters, Inc.

– Orientation –  Featuring Welcome to Monsters, Inc. – (0:58) A Welcome video for new Monsters, Inc. employees, Your First Day – (3:34) An overview of the company, History of the Monster World – (1:36) A history of the schism between man and monster, drawn and narrated by animation legend Bud Luckey.

EASTER EGG: Pressing left on your remote while a bonus feature is highlighted will access the following which are more or less features requiring your remote control to navigate through artwork:

– The Employee Handbook
– Guide to In Jokes
– Monster of the Month
– Scarer Cards

DVD:

The DVD contains the audio commentary for the widescreen version of the film.  Also, a 5.1 Surround Sound Mix for the Widescreen version only.

When “Monsters, Inc.” came out in the theaters, I can easily remember how impressed I was with the CG animation, animation with the hair and just the amount of detail.  When the DVD came out, it was one of the most jam-packed DVD’s with special features ever released and it was a spectacular DVD release years ago.

Over eight years later, here we are with the Blu-ray release of “Monsters, Inc.” and to be truthful, knowing Disney’s track run on Blu-ray releases especially with older animated films, I was not worried that we would have a quality release but I was wondering how the studio would top the original DVD release which had a large number of special features already.

And sure enough, there are a good amount of newer features exclusive to the Blu-ray release such as the “Filmmaker’s Round Table” which I enjoyed because you actually got to hear about the challenges that Pete Docter had faced as a director, the challenges they had in making the film but also the amount of fun they had in making the film as well.

I was very impressed with the “Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek: Building Monstropolis in Japan”.  I was in awe to see this ride created and how interactive it is.  I don’t know if we will ever see this ride stateside but definitely makes me want to fly to Japan and take the trip to Chiba and check out this ride at Disney Land Tokyo.

And once you watch the special features in the first Blu-ray disc, for those of you who had the DVD release know how many there were, so you can imagine how many features are on the second Blu-ray disc.

For those who never owned the original, let’s just say that both discs combined and include featurettes, TV spots, etc. there are probably around 60 special features on both Blu-ray discs.  So, needless to say, this is one release that will keep you busy and content-wise, you can easily say that this is one release that is worth every penny.

As for the film, it’s a hilarious comedy but it was really fun to see the character interaction between Sulley and Mike courtesy of John Goodman and Billy Crystal.  And you have to give credit to Mary Gibbs who provided the voice of Boo.  She made the character come to life and of course Steve Buscemi as Boggs and James Coburn as Henry J. Waternoose, this is one animated film that was well-cast, well-written and well-animated.  To think that this was released in 2001 and looks incredible in 2009, makes you wonder what the animators have in store for the upcoming sequel and I definitely look forward in seeing how much more impressive the animation will look today.

For parents wondering if “Monsters, Inc.” is appropriate for their children.  I will say that when my son was around 4, I tried showing him the film but it freaked him out with the weird monster characters but he watched it again (he is now 6) and he enjoyed it.  Because the film is about a company which has monsters trying to scare children, some kids may find the earlier part of the story a bit scary.  But overall, it’s a family film that people of all ages can enjoy.

“Monsters, Inc.” is literally a fantastic release.  If you loved the film, you’re getting your money’s worth in this four disc set.  I’m really impressed with what Disney has been able to bring to their animated releases to Blu-ray from “Bug’s Life” and making that older Pixar CG animated film look great on HD, then with the fantastic release of both “Pinocchio” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and now with the recent Blu-ray release of “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.”.

Overall, “Monsters, Inc.” is a wonderful release.  Sure, the film is was released in 2001 but the animation still holds up today.  In fact, the animation of this film still looks better than some CG animated films I have seen released in the last two years.  Picture quality, audio quality and the  amount of content that comes with this four disc Blu-ray release alone is fantastic and it’s a release that families will enjoy.

“Monsters, Inc.” is highly recommended!






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