Film Length: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
and full-frame (1.33:1) transfers.
We scare because we care!
Did you ever wonder as a kid about the monsters
that lay waiting in your closet at night, and what
they did with themselves during the day? If you
are to believe Monsters, Inc., they live
in Monstropolis, a thriving metropolis populated
with bizarre creatures whose world is powered by
the screams of children in our world. Closet doors
are the portals to Monstropolis, where Monsters,
Inc., serves as a kind of Con Edison energy company
where the power of children's screams are stored.
One of the things we quickly learn is that while
the monsters are allowed to scare the kids, they
can't touch them because any contact would be fatal
to the monsters.
The top scarer of Monsters, Inc. is James P.
Sullivan/Sulley (John Goodman), a huge, good-natured
monster with purple fur. Together with his assistant,
Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), a one-eyed green
basketball with arms and legs, he aims to win the
company award as top collector of children's screams.
Jealousy runs high at the company, however, as we
find chameleon Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi), trying
to undermine Sullivan's success by dwelling in sneaky
One disastrous night, Sulley accidentally lets out
a toddler, whom he nicknames Boo (Mary Gibbs). She
goes through the portal from her room to the
monster's world. Sulley views Boo as something
akin to a biological hazard and the rest of the
movie involves his and Wazowski's attempts to return
Boo to her own world before Boggs can get to her first.
I never originally liked Monsters, Inc. when
I saw it theatrically last year. While I found the
film to be highly inventive, I didn't think it had
any of the charm of Pixar's Toy Story or
A Bug's Life. The film lacked adult satire,
being reduced to more of a kiddie-movie level --
especially since the star of the film was a little
girl. Though the sophisticated 3D animation is
flawless, the jokes are a little sparse. Still,
with each subsequent viewing, I find myself enjoying
this movie a little more.
How is the transfer?
Words alone cannot convey how remarkable this
transfer is. This is a direct transfer from
the digital source without any film being used
as the middle-man. The result is crystal clear
picture quality that is flawless. In fact, I
have yet to see anything that looks this close
Imagine a picture so velvety smooth with total
absence of film grain. From this palette rises
a rush of colors that paint your television with
blues, purples, reds and yellows that come across
with incredible vividness, yet never nearing
What is most impressive about watching the transfer
of this film on DVD is the picture's incredible
attention to detail. Sulley's soft feathery fur
looks breathtakingly real. Everything has a sort
of 3-D effect as if it were ready to leap off the
The 5.1 Dolby Digital EX mix creates a sensational
sound environment with each of the channels receiving
distinct information that puts you in the middle
of a monstrous environment. Dialogue rests squarely
in the center channel. The film's main thrust comes
across robustly through the front two channels with
clean and distinct stereo separation. The rears do
an admirable job of constantly supplying supportive
effects such as the hums of the machines inside
Monsters Inc., or greetings from its workers that
emanate from every channel as if the monsters were
surrounding the listener. Perhaps the best demo
of how well all these channels interact together is
during the conveyer belt door chase at the end of
the film with the whooshing sounds from the rears
just making themselves known above the deep rumbles
of the LFE channel.
Speaking of the LFE channel, this is where the
5.1 mix really excels. Be prepared. This channel
provides earth-shattering bass that must be felt
to be believed. You'll hear it as Sully and
Wazowski greet a huge co-worker on the streets.
You'll hear it again as a sock is placed under a
protective dome and exploded. You'll feel it as
doors race along a conveyer belt in a high-speed
chase. The heart-stopping bass will almost make
you think your system is about to explode!
I have really grown to love the about face attitude
that Disney Home Video has shown to the DVD market
over the past two years. Leave it to the folks at
Disney Home Video to put together a sensational
Special Edition -- the way such editions ought to
be done. Take for instance the fact that they put
both a WIDESCREEN and FULLSCREEN version on a
single disc, complimented with a second disc that
is chock-full of supplemental material.
Once you pop the DVD in, you have the option of
viewing trailers for the upcoming DVD releases
of Beauty & The Beast, Lilo & Stitch and
Inspector Gadget 2 as well as trailers for
upcoming theatrical releases, Treasure Planet
and Pixar's Finding Nemo.
Once you make your way to the MAIN MENU, you
will be pleasantly surprised by a new animated
sequence with clawed monsters coming out of doors
leading up to the final menu of selections.
The entire film resides on Disc One. The
option of WIDESCREEN or FULLSCREEN can be selected
from the SETUP menu.
Bonus Features on Disc One include
a 5.1 Surround effects mix. I urge you to give
this mix a listen as it really shows how important
these effects are to a film. There's no music, no
dialogue, just sound effects.
A full-length audio commentary features
a variety of filmmakers that include Director
Pete Doctor, Co-Director Lee Unkrich, Executive
Producer John Lasseter and Screenwriter Andrew
Stanton. Please forgive me for not being able
to differentiate between the voices (they are
all so close to each other). These guys are
having a great time together, providing quick
and fluid commentary that describe everything
you are watching. Through the words of these
guys we learn how unique ideas are selected for
these films, taking something that is familiar
to audiences and adding an interesting twist to
it. We learn how the film's original introduction
to Sully as a growling monster was changed to one
where Mike awakens him as a radio announcer. Billy
Crystal was a natural choice for the role of
Wazowski due to the range of his comic talent. You
will be surprised to hear that Billy was the first
choice to play Buzz Lightear for Toy Story,
but turned it down only later to regret it. We go
on to hear how the other voices were selected for
the monster characters. It's interesting to hear
how these monstrous characters were developed by
taking textures and surfaces of the real animal
world and combined it with colors that represented
the figment of a child's imagination. The team
describes the film's climatic rollercoaster ride,
giving you all the dimensions of the door vault as
well as how many doors were drawn. There's absolutely
no cheating done here as the computer drew thousand
and thousand of doors. It's rather cool to watch
this film aided by an encyclopedia worth of facts
about why this piece of animation was added or
why this concept had to be changed or what initial
problems there was accomplishing the difficult
animation. Scene after scene has a story to it,
and it's so wild to hear how many personal touches
so close to the filmmakers were added to the film.
Not a dull moment here!
Now let's take a look at Disc Two, which
houses all the supplemental material...
Talk about getting in the mood! The moment you
insert Disc Two you are greeted with live
video of the filmmaking team of Monsters, Inc..
There's an approximate one minute introduction
from the team (mostly Directors) who pretty much
lay out what to expect on this supplemental disc.
The general idea is that the disc is divided into
two areas. There's the HUMAN area and (if
you dare enter) the MONSTERS area. Let's
enter one of these doors and see where it leads us...
As you enter the HUMANS area, your door
is taken on a conveyer belt where you are brought
to a group of additional doors. Every door has
its own individual subject matter.
Entering the Pixar door, we are greeted by
Director John Lasseter (Director of Toy Story 1&2)
who takes us on a tour of Pixar's brand new studio
in California. As we tour the building, we are
introduced to the many individual dressings of the
innard offices (one is made up as a Tiki Lounge).
There's a room full of toys as well as room to
play golf or karaoke. It's sort of a fun look
at the studio and the truly "animated" workers that
(length: approx. 3.5 minutes)
Entering the Story door, we find a list
of individual segments. All of these segments
are relatively short. In Story Is King
we meet co-Director David Silverman who reminds
us just how important a story is to the film. We
meet the storyboard artists who draw the initial
comic style layouts that get pitched as a final
idea for the film. In Monsters Are Real
we learn how the creative team at Pixar chose to
make their monsters more scared of themselves than
the kids were of them, aided by short interviews
from the voices (Goodman, Crystal, Coburn) themselves.
In Original Treatment we are taken through
early drawings that made some of the original ideas
of the film. In Story Pitch, we find a
story supervisor pitching his ideas for a back to
work scene, using storyboard drawings. Banished
Concepts is a set of four deleted scenes. You
may be disappointed that these are all storyboard
drawings of concepts never used (the voices are
not supplied by the stars). However, watching these
conceptual scenes is rather fun, and often funny.
Some of the dialogue in these storyboard sequences
ended up being used in the final version. Original
Sulley Intro is an alternative 1-minute clip
that shows us a slightly different manner in which
our purple hero is introduced to us. Storyboard
To Film takes one scene then divides into
three segments that takes us from storyreel to
colorization and then a split-screen comparison of
before and after.
Enter the Monster Files door. Cast of
Characters introduces us to Director Pete
Doctor and Co-Director Lee Unkrich who take us
to the recording studio as we meet the actors
behind the voices. There's some neat footage of
the actors behind the mike supplying the sound long
before the animation is done. What Makes A
Great Monster? takes us through the art
department where we meet the people who created
the original concepts behind the monsters.
Character Designs is really neat. With
an entire laundry list of animated characters to
choose from, you get to pick and see how that
individual's character was shaped and evolved from
initial drawing concepts to final form. Neat!
Enter the Design door to find an array
of subject matter. In Monstropolis, a
team of artists take us through the creation of
a monster world, with all the little details added
that you may not catch the first time around.
Setting The Scene takes us through the
process of taking a computer image of an empty room
and a Set Dressing Supervisor adding the extra
dressings to the scene. An actual step-through
uses your remote as you advance frame by frame on
an empty Monstropolis street as all the extra
dressings are added. Color Scripts contain
a gallery of photos that you can browse through that
give you an idea of how color was conceptualized
for each scene. In Master Lighting you
have the opportunity to browse through the gallery
of pictures that let you switch back and forth
between the conceptual art and the final art,
giving you an idea of how lighting was used in the
drawings. Location Flyarounds is kind of
cool, giving you your own private tour of downtown,
the apartment, Monsters Inc., the simulator and
Boo's room. Obviously used as a computer simulation
to map out an environment, this is really fun to
watch! Monstropolis Art is a collection of
conceptual drawings that you can browse through in
gallery form giving you an idea of some of the
earliest conceptualizations. Finally, a Guide
to "In" Jokes is a fun look at the usual Pixar
personal touches that are added to their films.
Enter the Music and Sound door and select
Monster Song to watch the recording the film's
final credits song, written by Randy Newman. There
are interviews here from Goodman, Crystal and even
Randy Newman. Sound Designer takes us to
Skywalker Ranch (ooh, I'll be there soon) where
bits and pieces of sound were put together to make
a believable film. We watch the sound designers
talk about how they pieced this sound together
as we watch foley artists watch the film and
record sounds for it. Many of the sounds in
this film were recorded individually, transferred
to a keyboard, and then had the pitch levels
changed so different sounds could be created. In
Binaural Recording we learn how a recording
is made to utilize spacial imaging and depth cues.
There are two really cool audio and video
demonstrations (featuring Crystal and Goodman) that
truly show off imaging and depth as they move
around the camera, and subsequently, around your
listening area. An audio comparison shows us the
difference between a stereo film mix to a binaural
stage recording to a 5.1 surround mix.
Open the Animation door and click on
Animation Process as it takes us through
the complete animation process from storyreels
to layout to video referencing and character
refinements. Early Test give us a very
primitive look at the early test models used
to illustrate what could be done with the film.
Opening Title Animation gives us a general
idea of how this whimsical opening sequence set
the scene for the entire film. We are taken
through paper models that were used to properly
create the animation, and the decisions made as
how to draw these animations. Hard Parts
takes a look at pushing the envelope and trying
to do something new and creative, topping what
animators have done the last time around. One
of the biggest challenges was animating hair to
the character of Sullivan. An animator would
not be able to properly animate it, but the folks
at Pixar figured out a way to do it -- and do it
in such a way that hairs moved randomly according
to character movement. Shots Department
concerns the technical issues having to do with
simulation. The effects department created an
infrastructure and the talented people at Pixar
were able to add the effects -- believably. A
Production Demo allows you to use your
remote to take a scene through several of its
stages from original storyreel through layout
and animation, ending it with final coloring.
This is really cool as you can use your remote
to quickly switch from the different angle
perspectives without interrupting the action.
Open the Release door and take a promotional
journey. Premiere takes us to a Hollywood
premier party where the actors and costumed characters
parade outside a theater. Toys shows us
the merchandising of the film with all its dolls,
board games and stuffed animals. Posters
takes us through an interactive gallery of dozens
upon dozens of poster designs created for the
film. Outtakes, from what it looks like,
is the hilarious reel that was added to theatrical
prints shortly after initial release. With Randy
Newman's theme playing in the background, we see
flubbed lines, microphones in the picture, and
even an appearance by Rex the Dinosaur from Toy
Story. Very funny stuff! Three Trailers and
four TV Spots are included here as well as
a look at how International Inserts are done
for audiences in different countries. A multi-
language clip reel is an interesting look at
how a scene from the film sounded in some of its
30 languages created for audiences around the world.
Phew! Well that's that! Now let's move on to
the MONSTERS portion of the DVD. As we enter
the door we come to a letter board that lets us
select several options.
New Monsters Adventures is a sort of fun,
exploration era for adults and kids. It begins
with an all-new Pixar short called Mike's New
Car. In this 3-minute short we are reunited
with our favorite characters Sully and Mike
Wazowski (original voices). Mike has just gotten
a beautiful new car, and he takes his friend Sully
on a tour of the inside. The car, however, doesn't
turn out to be everything it should. You can play
this with or without accompanying commentary.
Monster TV Treats is a group of promotional
shorts that feature our characters in seasonal
shots including those for Thanksgiving and Christmas
as well as football and baseball spots. Ponkickies 21
features new animation exclusively for this
Japanese TV show. Kids can play along with these
game shorts that star Sully, Mike and Boo. Boo's
Door Game is really neat! Here is how it works..
Boo's door has been shredded. Wazowski pleads with
you to help find all the missing pieces by entering
a total of 6 rooms where all the pieces are hidden.
Using your remote, you click on a room, and further
click on various objects inside. With each click on
an object you find a little surprise -- sometimes
a piece of the door, and other times just some
sarcastic encouragement from Wazowski. Kids will
absolutely love this feature! Disney Storytime:
Welcome to Monstropolis lets kids read along
to a storybook of the film, or have a narrator
read the story to them. This is yet another feature
I think young kids will get a lot of wholesome
enjoyment out of. Finally, there's a music video
for Randy Newman's If I didn't have You that
features the entire monster cast.
DVD-ROM content includes a game and weblinks.
Behind The Screams begins with another
assortment of outtakes that also look to
have been the ones added to the theatrical versions
shortly after their initial release. I am not quite
sure what this is, but Company Play Program
seems to be a cast biography satirized in the form
of a play complete with playbook advertisements,
photos and letters of congratulations. On The
Job With Mike and Sully is an all-new animated
interview piece that takes us to Monster's, Inc.
via a news cast. A reporter interviews the top
scare teak of Sully and Mike as they describe the
rigorous duties of their daily job.
Orientation brings us through the halls
of Monster's, Inc. where we get a hands-on look
at daily operations. Welcome to Monster's,
Inc. is an employee orientation film that
gives us an overview of the purpose of scaring
kids and how monsters are working for a better
tomorrow..today. This was the television commercial
shown at the beginning of the film where the "M"
logo covers Wazowski's face. Your First Day
is yet another promotional employee film that
gives an overview of the company. It's a
guidebook for new employees. You even learn
first-hand how to operate the doors. What's kind
of neat that is that grain was intentionally added
to this short to give it an authentic look. History
of Monster World gives us more information than
I ever thought we needed, taking us back to a sort
of prehistoric time when MANS and MONS first met,
and how monsters and "monsterizing" was born out
of this primitive culture. Now this is neat! An
Employee Handbook (structured like a binder
notebook) lets you browse through ID photos of your
fellow employees, company safety regulations,
a door station operation overview and even what is
on today's lunch menu. For some real laughs, check
out the advertising area of the notebook. Really
cool! Monster Of The Month gives us pin-up
photos of the Monster who contributed the most
scares in a single month. It's sort of interesting
to see that there isn't much variety in the winners.
Scarer Cards are sort of fun. They are just
like baseball cards but they feature all the monsters
from the films, including their vital statistics.
If that wasn't enough, an overzealous fan offers
The original film short For The Birds, that
introduced the film theatrically, is also included.
I am exhausted! When I started this review hours
ago, I never knew what I was getting myself into.
These discs took forever to go through -- and that
says something very positive about the value of
this 2-disc DVD set. I am sure there are little
things I probably missed in my review, including
Easter Eggs (which I never look for).
I have said this elsewhere in my review, but
it bears repeating....in the past two years Disney
Home Video has done an about face with their
Home Video department. The two most stellar Special
Edition releases I have seen this year both came
from that studio. The first was Pearl Harbor.
The second is this very DVD, Monster's, Inc.
Thus far, Monster's, Inc. takes the lead
spot for DVD OF THE YEAR. The reason this
DVD takes the lead spot is quite simple: never
before have I seen such thought and personality
put into a DVD package. From the superb menu
animations to new animations created specifically
for this DVD to the live action videos from the
guys at Pixar, you can tell that DVD was on the
mind of everyone since the film went into production.
Nothing but nothing has been left to the imagination
I also must rave about the fact that Disney truly
made this a DVD that appeals to both adults and
kids. For adults there are very informative
supplements that take us through the entire film
production. For kids, there are some genuinely
fun games to play as well as enough remote control
interaction that will them glued to the screen for
You have heard many reviewers, including myself,
talking about the ultimate Special Edition. Well,
Disney has just raised that bar by making this
Special Edition the one to beat!
Release Date: September 17, 2002