Monsters, Inc., Blu-ray 4-disc Combo Pack (2001/2009)

by | Nov 15, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Monsters, Inc., Blu-ray 4-disc Combo Pack (2001/2009)

Director: Pete Docter
Voices: John Goodman, Billy Crystal

Studio: Pixar/Disney 058268 [Release date: 11/10/09]

Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 color 1080p HD on 2 Blu-rays (plus 1 16:9 DVD + DisneyFile Digital Copy disc)

Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & 2.0; French & Spanish DD 5.1 (DD 5.1 Surround EX on DVD)

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Extras: Filmmakers’ Round Table, Building Monstropolis in Japan, Commentary track,  “For the Birds” (winner of 2001 Best Animated Short Film), “Mike’s New Car” (winner 2002 Best Animated Short Film), Pixar Fun Factory Tour, Banished concepts, Roz’s 100-Door Challenge Game, more…
Length: 91 minutes

Rating: *****

Another Pixar winner animated feature for the whole family! It’s a kick from start to finish, and unless you have kids around watching this every so often on DVD, you may have forgotten over eight years many fine plot details and scenes, as I did. Furthermore it’s crammed with all sorts of added bonus features, though I don’t understand why it takes four separate discs when one of the big advantages of Blu-rays is their 50GB storage capacity. (I guess there’s no room on the standard DVD disc for the data-reduced computer digital file of the movie.)

The clever plot revolves around a city of monsters whose industries send monsters into our world to scare little kids and then harvest their screams, which provide the energy to run their city of Monsteropolis. Sully, a big purple and blue fuzzy monster voiced by John Goodman, and his sidekick Mike, a little ball with two legs and one eye voiced by Billy Crystal, are the main characters. One of the extras shows footage of the voice recording session with the two actors, who had great fun working off one another.  Things become urgent when a cute little girl Sulley names Boo wanders into the monster world and isn’t scared by the variety of creatures. The monsters have been warned never to touch the human children when they come out of the closet doors to scare them, and one child’s sock left accidently behind on the other side of the door causes a whole contamination corps to go into violent action. Mike and Sulley struggle to get Boo back to her home without alerting the others. Their main opponents are Randall, a devious chameleon, and the spider-like owner-boss of the corporation.

Every scene is a witty and fast-paced addition to the story, sparkling with brilliant animation and plenty of intelligent bits to keep adults interested while beguiling the little ones.  The scene with Sully and Mike hanging on to doors chasing Randall on another door in the immense storage area for the closet doors to all the children’s bedrooms is quite an experience.  The wrap up of the whole plot is very positive and life-affirming without being the least bit corny.

The Blu-ray transfer is of course perfect, as most animated films are, and the DTS lossless surround track makes great use of the sound effects, music and Randy Newman’s tunes. It’s very worthwhile to have the bonus features in hi-res now on some of these recent discs.  The bonus feature concerning the local references in the film interested me since I used to live in the Bay Area where Pixar is. The film even has the monsters visiting a restaurant of the same name and design as one in Oakland, CA that the filmmakers often go to. The bit on Banished Concepts was interesting too; I wasn’t aware that sometimes whole scenes got laboriously animated and then still ended up on the cutting room floor because they didn’t fit in well with the finished film – just as with a live action film.  Others only got as far as storyboards or animatic sketches. It was also a departure that the filmmakers used an actual two-year-old child for the voice of Boo, just as they later were to use children for the voices of both Russell and Ellie as a child in Up (instead of using adult actors who specialize in children’s voices, as normally done). They had to follow the little girl around with a mike picking up her various excited sounds since she wouldn’t stay still.

— John Sunier

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