Monsters, Inc. on DVD
Pixar, makers of the Toy Story movies and A Bug's Life, have
unleashed another terrific computer-animated feature in Monsters, Inc.
The story is arguably slightly inferior to those other releases, but
only slightly (and it still brims over with imagination!), and in the
meantime Pixar has once again moved the CG goal posts with an outstanding
example of technology used in pursuit of art.
The concept is a little bit like that of Tim Burton's The
Nightmare Before Christmas, but only a little as, like the
denizens of Halloween Town, these scary monsters aren't really frightening on
their own, but are merely doing their jobs jobs that require them to be
In this case, the monsters are kind of like miners: they must
scare children in order to gather their screams and take them back
home again to help power their world. It's kind of a parallel universe
situation, where the monsters and the humans live on different planes of
existence, and the monsters enter the human word by way of portals that just
happen to look like (and, in fact, are) the closet doors of the little ankle
biters who are about to be frightened.
Nifty concept, and it's well done especially the scenes of
Monsters, Inc.'s facility, a huge place that's marvelously rendered.
Anyway, James P. Sulley Sullivan (voiced by John
Goodman) is a big, blue, hairy creature who's also the reigning champion
frightener. His assistant and buddy is Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal),
and this team is going for the record scream gathering when things
go seriously awry.
What happens is that a little girl slips through the portal into
Monstropolis, and since human children are supposedly toxic to monsters, she
threatens to bring destruction down on the city and its residents. Can Sully
and Mike get little Boo back home safely before their civilization
The plot is actually quite a bit more complex than this quick
outline indicates, and that's fine: watch the DVD to get all the delicious
nuances of this film.
Meanwhile, we end up with another winning feature from
Disney/Pixar, one with laughs and heart-tugging emotions and plenty of
eye-popping action and settings. The writers/producers/directors have really
outdone themselves this time, and the 2 disc Collector's Edition DVD is a
mighty nifty package that will not only provide plenty of fun hours in the home
theater, but will also provide an excellent showcase for your home theater
The movie is offered in a THX-certified, direct digital-to-digital
transfer that's nothing short of outstanding. And, as with A Bug's
Life's special edition, Disney offers the feature in both anamorphic
widescreen formats (16x9 TV compatible), and a specially reframed 4x3 version
for those who haven't yet embraced the world of widescreen TV. This is the way
it should be done if you must include a "full screen" version, rather than the
unfortunate current trend toward offering separate versions in separate
packages which rips off old style TV owners by forcing them to
either live with a stretch/zoomed image or buy a new widescreen DVD when they
inevitably buy a new TV.
So far as the picture quality is concerned, one couldn't ask for
much better. The image is razor sharp and bright and colorful, with no
discernible artifacts, and looks absolutely magnificent. Audio is Dolby Digital
Surround EX and it is up to the high standards of the video side of the
equation: your audio system, including your subwoofer, will love it (though
your neighbors may not!)
There's also a Dolby Digital EX sound effects-only track, which is
pretty cool once.
And talk about extras! While some appear to be cases of gilding
the lily, we're hard pressed to complain about added value.
First up is an audio commentary from filmmakers Pete Docter, Lee
Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter, as well as a selection of the CG
outtakes to which we've become accustomed. We think Pixar may have
begun to exhaust the humor and wonder in the outtakes, but we still enjoyed
You also get two short features, an all new one called
Mike's New Car, which is another pretty good computer-animated
feature, though overall it's more than a tad lame and/or irrelevant. Better is
the Oscar-winning short For the Birds, which is a wonderful little
feature that reminds us of the hilarious old Pixar short Knick
There's also a sneak peek of Pixar's next digital extravaganza,
Finding Nemo, and it'll undoubtedly make you want to see it (which
is undoubtedly Disney's intention!), and we get to see the Monsters, Inc.
company play hinted at during the film.
Naturally, there's plenty more, too, including two separate
worlds (Monster World and Human World) to explore on Disc Two. This
stuff will undoubtedly be particularly interesting to kids, though not
exclusively, and includes the opportunity to become an employee at
the Monsters, Inc. factory. Human World gives you a fascinating tour of Pixar,
including some quality time spent with the filmmakers. This
includes deleted scenes, flyarounds of some of the film's
locations and a guide to some of the film's in
You also get Boo's Door Game, a Music Video, abandoned
concepts, and a lot more.
It's one heck of a package, befitting one heck of an imaginative
and innovative piece of family entertainment.
Monsters, Inc. from Walt Disney Home Video
93 min, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, 4x3 full screen
Starring the voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James
Coburn, Jennifer Tilly
Produced by Darla K. Anderson
Written by Andrew Stanton, Daniel
Gerson, directed by Peter Docter, Lee Unkrich, David Silverman
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