Written by Senora Bicho
Released in November 2001, Monsters, Inc. was the fourth feature-length feature film by Pixar Animation Studios. While it was a commercial and critical success, I didn’t think it was as entertaining for adults when compared to the previous films. I haven’t seen it since the theatrical release and was curious to see if I might enjoy it more this time around with the Blu-ray release.
The inhabitants of the city Monstropolis rely on the screams of children as its source of power. Monsters, Inc. provides the city’s energy through its scream-processing factory. James P. “Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are the top scare team at the factory. Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi) is Sully’s rival determined to take over the top position. In order to obtain the screams, the monsters enter into teleportation doors that lead into a child’s bedroom. One night after business hours, Sully stumbles upon a door that hasn’t been properly stored away. While investigating the door, he inadvertently brings a child into the monster world. Children are considered toxic to monsters so as soon as the breach is discovered the city goes on high alert. Sully and Mike soon discover that the child is not toxic after all and realize it is up to them to protect her while attempting to get her home.
Both the video and audio presentations are amazing. Presented in 1080p and an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the film is awash in brilliant, vibrant colors from the trees’ autumn colors to the entire spectrum of rainbow represented by the cast of characters. It’s very impressive the creative team went to the trouble of adding patches of purple on his bluish-turquoise hair, which is flawlessly rendered, as are all the textures in the film. From common walls to the monsters’ various skin types, they are all clear and realistic.
The jazz score under the opening credits immediately prepares the viewer for how good the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 experience will be. Each instrument (clarinet, trumpet, piano, drums) is distinct and the bass thumps out the subwoofer. The directionality well positions the characters and items as they move about the scene. The dialogue is understandable no matter how wild the action gets, and the climatic door-storage chase sequence gets very wild.
The Blu-ray release includes all-new bonus material. “Filmmakers’ Round Table” provides behind-the-scenes information and anecdotes from some of the filmmakers. “Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek: Building Monstropolis in Japan” offers a look at the new attraction at Tokyo Disneyland. “Roz 100-Door Challenge” is a triva game aimed at younger viewers who wish to try and apply for a job at Monsters, Inc. There is also an audio commentary by director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, screenwriter Andrew Stanton and executive producer John Lasseter. However, these features alone do not create a compelling reason to buy the Blu-ray combo pack.
The original bonus material contained in the first DVD release is also provided. “For the Birds” is an Academy Award-winning short. “Mike’s New Car” is an Academy Award-nominated short. “Humans Only” contains information on Pixar and highlights the process of making the film from concept to completion. “Monsters Only” focuses on the company Monsters, Inc. and its staff. The set also comes with a standard DVD that includes the film and the original bonus material while a fourth disc provides a digital copy of the film.
As it turned out I happened to watch Pixar’s newest release Up over the same weekend as watching Monsters, Inc. There was no comparison on my mind; Up is a much more sophisticated, interesting, and thoughtful film designed for the entire family to enjoy. Monsters, Inc. is intended for a younger viewer with a simpler, shallower story based more on action. There is an attempt to address the real world issue of energy but it only touches the surface. While the characters are fun to watch and the its look is as good as any other Pixar film, it leaves something to be desired when compared to the other great films the studio has produced.