Monsters, Inc. 3D (Blu-ray)
Directed by Pete Docter
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 91 minutes
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 EX English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 49.99
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Review Date: February 10, 2013
In the world of Monstropolis, Monsters, Inc. is the largest scare factory there, and the top kid scarer is James "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman), a huge, intimidating monster with a gentle nature and, like all the monsters, frightened of children whom they believe to be toxic. His assistant, best friend, and roommate is Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), a fast-talking, feisty one-eyed monster. Inside the factory can also be found the factory's crab-like head Henry J. Waternoose (James Coburn), the beguiling serpent-haired receptionist Celia (Jennifer Tilly) who’s sweet on Mike, and the sarcastic chameleon monster Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi) who schemes to replace Sulley as Monsters, Inc.'s champion scare-inducer. Mining the screams of children is the reason for the existence of Monsters, Inc. and all of the other scare factories in town as screams contain the energy necessary to keep the city at full power. When two-year old human child Boo stumbles through the doorway into Monstropolis by accident, she turns the monster world upside-down.
The innovative world of Monstropolis is clearly the film’s greatest claim to fame courtesy of the script by Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson, from an original story by Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, and Ralph Eggleston (and there are lots of throwaway jokes that one will likely miss on a first look like the grocer spelled “grosser” and his gore-infused produce). Inside the factory world of Monsters, Inc. are the doorways into countless bedrooms around the world where the monsters emerge to terrify their tiny victims, and Pixar’s talented team of animators have made the world like many industrialized factories with workrooms, break rooms, locker rooms, vaults, bathrooms: all of which we get to visit. But the slapstick antics as the monsters pursue the child around the factory wear out its welcome fairly quickly, and attempting to win back her trust after they’ve scared her (she spends most of the movie laughing at them setting up the film’s inevitable conclusion) just doesn’t pluck the heartstrings as so many other Pixar films have been able to do through their storylines. The film even takes a surprising detour to the Himalayas after the banishment of our two protagonists, but it seems like padding despite the incredible animation. In what is very typical with Dreamworks films but less so with Pixar, there are nods to famous films: The Right Stuff, for instance, and a succession of toys Sulley offers Boo to keep her quiet includes quite a few pieces of merchandise from previous Pixar hits, inside jokes that aren’t worthy of the geniuses at Pixar. There are no complaints about the pacing or the quality of animation, however. When Sulley and Mike chase after Boo through the bedroom door vault, the studio puts its best foot forward with incredible speed, dexterous animation, and a breathless pace, all hallmarks of Pixar at its zenith.
Voice casting is very strong. John Goodman is tremendously appealing as the gentle giant Sulley. As his motormouth friend Mike, Billy Crystal can become tiresome with his constant yakking, but the character’s thrill at any kind of recognition is undoubtedly endearing. James Coburn’s authoritative voice establishes his control over the factory beautifully though Steve Buscemi scheming Randall seems a bit underwhelming surrounded by this collection of scene stealers. Jennifer Tilly makes a fragile love interest while Bob Peterson as administrative assistant Roz is a scream in every scene in which he/she appears.
3D implementation – 4/5
The film has been framed at 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The colors are riotous in this feature with all of the different monster creations evincing every hue of the rainbow. The attention paid to Sulley’s blue and purple fur is perhaps the encode’s most astonishing achievement, so real a viewer may feel he could reach out and touch it, never more so than in the snow sequence when snow and dew work their way through the fur so believably that it takes the breath away. No banding or other artifacts mar the pristine appearance of the image, another bull’s eye for the artists at Pixar. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
As with other Pixar 3D reinventions from original 2D presentations, the depth to the image is sometimes quite impressive (Sully’s bed looks as long as a football field, and the first view inside a tunnel seems to stretch to infinity) while the assortment of characters and objects on different planes becomes mind bogging from the delightful opening credits clear through to the end (the door warehouse/vault that the characters race through near the climax is even more exhilarating in 3D than it is in 2D). But like most of Pixar’s redos, there is very little emphasis on outward projection. There are a couple of pointed fingers (claws?) that come out slightly toward the viewer, and there is a moment where some shredders send floating bits that seem to momentarily waft in front of our eyes. But the extent that the animators avoid using forward thrust is a bit frustrating with all of the pointed horns, claws, and tails that they have at their disposal.
The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound mix has been imaginatively constructed to place Randy Newman’s jolly score throughout the soundfield and then to use the available channels for all manner of ambient sounds, from Boo’s echoing gurgles which bounce around your home theater to thunderclaps and closing doors all beautifully directionalized. Everything sounds impressively rich and robust in this sound mix, one many fans of the film will undoubtedly treasure and one of the most sonically active of Pixar’s animated output.
The 3D disc in the set contains some entertaining 3D extras in addition to the feature film and the animated menus. Everything is in 1080p 3D.
“Partysaurus Rex” is a hilarious Toy Story-based short with Rex making some new friends with the bathtub toys and his well-meaning attempts at partying which naturally go awry. It runs 6 ½ minutes.
“For the Birds” is the Oscar-winning Pixar short which accompanied Monsters, Inc. in the original theatrical engagement. The 1080p 3D short runs 3 ½ minutes.
The especially created animated outtakes are also in 3D and include Monsters, Inc.’s company play in this 5 ½-minute short.
There are 3D promo trailers for Monsters University and Planes.
Both Blu-ray 2D discs in the set contain bonus material.
Disc one has the audio commentary ported over from the original DVD release. It features director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, and Pixar executives John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton. It’s a lively and energetic discussion about the making of the movie with references to early plans for the film and characters which get more elaboration in other bonus features elsewhere in the set.
The Filmmakers’ Round Table finds Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Bob Peterson, and Darla Anderson sitting down and discussing the movie almost a decade after it premiered. They discuss favorite sequences, some cut sequences, changes in design of the characters, the casting of stars, and the impact of 9/11 which happened about two months before the movie’s premiere. This 1080p featurette runs 21 ½ minutes.
“Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek: Building Monstropolis in Tokyo” is pretty self explanatory. This is an exanimation of the Monsters, Inc. ride in Tokyo Disneyland with plenty of clips showing its various sections. This runs for 8 minutes in 1080i.
“For the Birds” is the Oscar-winning Pixar short which accompanied Monsters, Inc. in the original theatrical engagement. The 1080p short runs 3 ½ minutes. There is optional director commentary available for listening.
“Mike’s New Car” is a short created using the Mike and Sulley characters from the film, and this short received an Oscar nomination, a slapstick 3 ¾ minutes involving Mike trying the figure out the various gadgets on his new car. It’s in 1080p. This contains the optional annoying commentary by the young sons of the film’s directors.
The disc is BD-Live ready.
There are 1080p trailers for Wrexk-It Ralph, Monsters University, and The Little Mermaid 3D.
The second Blu-ray 2D disc contains the bulk of the background features on the making of the movie. With few noted exceptions, they’re in 480i.
“Roz’s 100-Door Challenge Game” is a fun trivia game in which the viewer answers trivia questions about the movie to qualify for different position levels at Monsters, Inc. This is in 1080p.
The Pixar Fun Factory Tour finds Pete Docter, John Lasseter and others on the Pixar team taking the viewer on a quick guided tour of the new Pixar facility. It runs for 3 ¾ minutes.
“Story Is Key” spends 2 minutes with the executives reminding us that Pixar’s movie stress well developed stories more than any other component of the movie and explaining how the story department at Pixar works.
“Monsters Are Real” finds the stars of the film and important crew members giving their (tongue-in-cheek) theories about the possibility of monsters’ existence. This lasts 1 ½ minutes.
The original story treatment for the movie is presented in a very interesting 13 ¾-minute featurette illustrated with temporary voices. Almost all of the story in the original pitch was discarded, but the central idea of Monstropolis was retained as the jumping-off point for the film.
Then head story supervisor Bob Peterson shows us a typical story pitch for a segment in the movie that ultimately didn’t end up getting used. This runs for 4 ½ minutes.
There are five banished concepts discussed for the character and story of Sulley showing just how much the character changed from these early drafts to the finished film.
The storyboard-to-film comparison shows how the animators movie from the earliest illustrations called a story reel to the final color product and then these two segments are shown in a split screen overlay for comparison. This runs 5 ¾ minutes in 1080p.
The extensive art galleries for the film contains hundreds of sketches and color drawings arranged in four large groupings: Characters, Color Script (drawn scenes from the film), Concept Art, and Posters.
There are many featurettes on the fashioning of the world of the film:
“Designing Monstropolis” lasts 2 ¾ minute talking about how their ideas for the new world took shape.
“Set Dressing” is 3 ¼ minutes on how props and set pieces are designed and placed on the sets already constructed.
Location Flyarounds are the very entertaining trips through the interior and exterior sets without (hardly any) characters in view. This lasts for 7 ½ minutes.
“Monster File” shows the recording of the voice actors for the movie in a 6-minute segment. “What Makes a Great Monster?” finds actors and crew discussing getting into character for the film for 1 ½ minutes.
Animation Process takes us through four stages of work to get to the finished product: illustration, layout, shaders, and lighting. In this section are five subsections with vignettes:
“Early Tests” are some ideas that didn’t pass muster in this 8-minute look at the movie. The fashioning of the opening titles is covered in a 2-minute clip.
The hard parts that the production team had to tackle (mainly the fur and cotton fabrics) are discussed for 5 minutes.
The Shots Department, a new department within Pixar created for this movie and in use ever since, discuss their approaches to the seemingly unsolvable computer puzzles the picture presented for 2 ¼ minutes.
Then there is a production demonstration showing how each department adds their expertise to what comes before. The viewer uses the angle key to toggle between the four phases of production: story reel, layout, animation, and final color.
The Music & Sound section has two segments:
“Monster Song” finds stars John Goodman and Billy Crystal laying down the vocal tracks for Randy Newman’s Oscar-winning song in a 3 ½-minute vignette.
Sound Design has sound executive head Gary Rydstrom and assistant Tom Myers discussing the creation of the sound effects and Foley tracks for the movie in a 4 ¼-minute piece.
There are two theatrical trailers, four television ad spots, international inserts, and a film clip played in thirteen languages. There is also a 1 ½-minute look at toys manufactured for the film. All of this is in the publicity section.
The hilarious outtakes runs for 5 ½ minutes.
The wrap-up of this section lasts ¾-minute. However, the viewer is reminded to look for an (easy to find) Easter Egg which will open six new doors of brief featurettes.
The New Monster Adventures section of the disc offers these features:
TV blackout sketches that run for 1 ¼ minutes.
Ponkickies 21 is a Japanese children’s show which Pixar provided some animation for.
The music video for the Oscar-winning song “If I Didn’t Have You” runs for 1 ¼ minutes.
“On the Job with Mike and Sully” is a brief 2 ½ minute piece featuring the stars of the movie.
Some fun faux-orientation videos round off the bonus features:
“Welcome to Monsters, Inc.” is for new employees of the plant. (1 minute)
“Your First Day” acquaints new employees with the rights and wrongs of the workplace. (3 ½ minutes)
“History of Monster World” is in story reel form, an uncompleted short on how man and monsters happened to exist in separate worlds. (1 ½ minutes)
Disc four in the set is a DVD release of the film.
Disc five in the set is a digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions on loading it onto Mac and PC devices.
4.5/5 (not an average)
While it might not be the greatest of the Pixar accomplishments, Monsters, Inc. makes a delightful entertainment, bold and brassy and brimming with delights. The 3D Blu-ray offers an astonishing dimensional picture experience and outstanding sound in the expected Pixar fashion and comes highly recommended.