|Monsters, Inc. (2001)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Tuesday, 03 November 2009|
“Monsters, Inc.” is about the human world versus the monster world. We all grew up fearing that there were monsters under our beds (though I was fortunate to have a bed with a solid bottom - no monsters there). In this film, the monsters have a closet door system that allows them to access children’s bedrooms and scare them. The monsters collect these screams to use as power for their city. However, lately there has become a scream shortage, as children are desensitized.
The only thing that the monsters fear is all things from the human realm. There is a disease center that overreacts anytime that an article of clothing comes back from the human realm. When a playful child becomes stuck in the monster realm, Sulley and Mike, the lead scaring team, freak out and try everything to get the child back through her closet door. Unfortunately, Sulley grows attached to the child.
Sulley and Mike get caught up in a scheme to kidnap children and steal their screams. This results in their banishment to the Himalayas where they meet the abominable snowman. Sulley does everything he can to make his way back to Monsters Inc to save the child.
The issue with the film is that it gets a bit slow and redundant. This is because Disney tried to add some elements into the story that would attract older viewers. However, they simply fall by the wayside. This is not to say that this isn’t an entertaining film because it is. However, it is definitely a film tailored more for the little children in terms of story.
“Monsters, Inc.” makes its way onto Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is a stunning visual presentation. Fine details are incredible. The fur on Sulley is nicely defined. Textures on other monsters are quite rough. Contrast and brightness levels never waver. The black levels are deep, rich and nicely delineated. Shadow delineation is never a problem. There isn’t a single artifact or banding problem. The source print is impeccably clean. Colors are simply superb. The purples and blues are wonderfully resolved. Greens and reds are also vibrant. There is incredible dimensionality to the image. Hardcore Blu-ray viewers will be able to detect an ever so slight aliasing in the images with fur. However, it is not detracting enough for average movie watchers. In fact, I would bet that 99 percent of viewers would not even be able to see it. So while I can’t give the video five stars, for most people it will be a five star presentation.
Disney brings “Monsters, Inc.” to Blu-ray with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. This is a tremendous upgrade from the standard Dolby Digital track. The sonic fidelity of the track is going to frighten all the youngsters. Parents be forewarned. The LFE channel comes and goes a bit too much for my taste. However, when it does remain consistent it is heart pounding. Dialogue is always clean, crisp and clear. Here’s my issue with the track. This isn’t part of the transfer, but the original sound design. It has always been thought that the sound design of this film has been incredibly detailed. The problem is, is that the details are only prevalent when they are expected. It is difficult to explain. However, the “details” are just sweetened sounds. Directionality and panning is spot on. The surround channels are filled during the more active sequences. The acoustics and reverberations are spread throughout the channels. Reverberation doesn’t decay properly, but that will go unnoticed by most people. Dynamics are expansive. Frequency response is terrific. Sometimes the soundtrack sounds a bit front heavy, which is quite surprising. This is a terrific audio track. However, it falls short of absolute perfection.
I have a feeling that what delayed this release was two fold. First, there is the fact that they wanted to release the film with the filmmakers’ other creation, “Up.” The second however, is probably because of the tremendous amount of special features in this package. This is a four-disc package. First, let’s get the last two discs out of the way. The last disc is a Digital Copy of the film. The third disc is a standard DVD copy of the film. The other two discs are Blu-rays.
The first Blu-ray disc contains the main feature. The first disc has an introduction by the director, which introduces us to what is available in this Blu-ray release. On the first disc there is an audio commentary by director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, producer John Lasseter and writer Andrew Stanton. This is a highly informative track with both technical and thematic elements. “Filmmakers’ Roundtable” is a featurette in which a handful of the filmmakers sit down and discuss their creation. “For the Birds” and “Mike’s New Car” are two short films. “Ride and Go Seek” covers the ride in Japan that is based on the movie. The last feature on the first disc is an audio and video calibration tool.
The second Blu-ray disc contains the bulk of the bonus materials. “Roz’s 100 Door Challenge” is said to be 100 games. However, it is simply a trivia game. Nevertheless, it is entertaining. “Pixar Fun Factory Tour” is a brief tour through the offices of Pixar. “Banished Concepts” contains five sequences that were left out of the film. There is a collection of Disney’s famous storyboard to film comparison. There are four featurettes that cover the pre-production process of the film. Each are fairly brief and relatively interesting, but not essential. “Set Dressing” briefly looks at real models used to create the animated cityscape. “Designing Monstropolis” is another quick look at the design of the cityscape. “Monster File” is a promotional short. “Location Flyaround” is an extended look at the city of Monstropolis using panning techniques. “Animation” is a section that contains six segments that discuss how the Pixar team goes about creating their animations. It is informative, but nothing really new form the process describe on the “Wall•E” Blu-ray bonus materials. “Sound and Music” is an all too brief look at the sound design of the film. In the “Release” section there are some trailers, outtakes and change notes. The “Monsters Only” section contains some of the original DVD featurettes. “Wrap-Up” is an outro by the filmmakers. The last feature on the second disc is an art gallery that has been upgraded to high definition.
“Monsters, Inc.” comes in an incredible package and is an entertaining film that shouldn’t be missed. The video and audio transfer are exquisite, but ultimately not perfect. While the package contains everything but the kitchen sink, Disney really needs to release just a one Blu-ray disc of this film and make it cheaper. For true fans of the film this is a must have.