What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.
Studio: Walt Disney
Product Release: October 29, 2013
Audio: 7.1 Dolby TrueHD
Running Time: 104 minutes
On A Scale 0-5
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 3
3D Separation: 3
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 1
Every time Pixar goes back to the well to attempt a resurgence on previously
popular titles, I get a little nervous. Sometimes they succeed (Toy Story 3) and
sometimes they fail miserably (Cars 2). Fortunately, Monsters University falls
pretty much in the category of succeeding and being on par with the original film.
Perhaps the reason this new venture seems so fresh is because of the fact that
Pixar decided to do a prequel rather than a sequel.
We all know the story of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sullivan (John Goodman), the
top scarers of Monsters Inc., but did you know how their relationship began?
As the film opens, we meet young Mike Wazowski, a one-eyed pea of a youngster
that just doesn't fit in with the rest of his monstrous schoolmates. On a class trip
to the infamous Monsters Inc., Mike realizes his dream of becoming a top scarer.
Moving forward a few years, Mike's determination leads him to Monsters University
where he meets Sully, the big blue furry creature who seems to be riding on the
success of his family's name despite being a below grade-average student. The
two become rivals which leads to their expulsion from the school's scare program.
How the two go from rivalry to becoming best friends is the basis for the rest of
Once again, Pixar has done a remarkable job producing a beautifully realistic
animated film with an engaging story, some laughable moments, and likable
characters that are brought to life thanks to top-notch voice talents that include
Steve Buscemi (Randy) and Helen Mirren (Dean Hardscrabble). Of course, what
would a Disney feature be without some hard-earned lessons for kids to learn about
teamwork over self importance.
By now, you would expect a Blu-ray like this to be flawless in picture quality. It
certainly lives up to those expectations. The transfer from the digital source is
impeccable, allowing for an exceeding amount of detail within the animation where
you really appreciate its fine textures. There are no artifacts to be found anywhere.
The film is filled with vibrant fall colors by day and soothing pink sunsets by evening.
Didn't really notice anything within the transfer that conveyed deep black levels. Still,
this is the sort of picture perfect presentation you would expect from Disney/Pixar.
The only disappointment to be found here is the 3D imagery. Once again, instead
of giving something special to the folks that pay a premium to see this technology
in the theaters and homes, Pixar is pretty much playing this one by the numbers.
There are varying amounts of depth and dimensionality throughout the film ranging
from average at best to looking a bit flat during scenes that are not well lit. Anyone
hoping for "In-Yo'-Face" pop-out is going to be sorely disappointed. The filmmakers
gave no opportunity to provide its audience with a little added fun. Instead, we have
various body parts (elbows, fingers, heads) that at times seem to cross the screen's
dividing line, but alas, pop-out is kept very much at bay here. As I watched this film
wearing eyewear, I couldn't help but think that the added dimensionality really added
nothing to the experience other than one single moment at the end of the film that
involved falling confetti. However, by the time that moment arrived, it seemed too little
The only thing that is remotely immersive about this presentation at home is the
7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack (downconverted to 5.1 on my system). It has been
quite some time since I have seen Dolby TrueHD displayed across my receiver and
its presence is truly welcomed here. The lossless mix is quite engaging thanks to
its seamless panning of effects across the entire sound field. In scenes crowded
with an array of monstrous characters, voices are effectively carried from one side
of the room to the other. In quieter moments, such as Mike reflecting by a lake, the
rears supply just the right amount of ambient sounds of nightfall. One of the most
impressive moments of the film where all the channels seem to be utilized at once
is during a challenge where characters are running to avoid stinging glow urchins
that are being hurled towards them. LFE is very prominent, particularly at the moment
we first meet Sullivan bursting into a classroom, or moments later when a scare canister
flies out of control. Even party music provides enough bass to shake 'da house.
What I still have left to mention is Randy Newman's score, recorded with a 112-piece
orchestra, whose musical variations dominate the entire sound field throughout the
full length of the film without managing to drown out the vocals. In all, I was very happy
with the consistency in volume within the soundtrack.
The Ultimate Collector's Edition of Monsters University arrives as a 4-disc set
(Blu-ray+Blu-ray 3D+DVD+Bonus Features BD). Also included is a Digital Copy
of the film. It arrives in a cardboard slipcover that oddly, is not lenticular. There is
a treasure trove of extra features -- too many to list -- but includes featurettes on
just about every aspect of the film's production and animation. There is also an
included bonus Pixar short entitled, The Blue Umbrella.
My job when providing these reviews to HTF readers is to help you make a sound
decision when considering spending the premium cost attached to these 3D releases.
At the time of this review, there is a $10 difference between the standard Blu-ray and
the 3D Blu-ray combo. I am not completely certain what extra features are ported over
to each edition, nor if that is even important to most of you at this moment. What I can
say with confidence is that I see no advantage of watching Monsters University in
3D over 2D. The animators have played it entirely safe, and as such, I found the
presentation to be at or below average.
All that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and would recommend it on its
entertainment merits alone without the added dimensionality.
Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer