Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios (November 2 2001), Walt Disney Home Entertainment (February 19 2013), Blu-ray 3D and two Blu-ray Discs plus DVD and Digital Copy, 92 minutes plus supplements, 1080p high-definition 1.85:1, Dolby True-HD 7.1, Rated G, Retail: $49.99
James P Sullivan (John Goodman) is Monstropolis’ number one scarer at Monsters, Inc. – the company that takes the screams from sleeping kids and recycles them into energy – his only close rival being the devious Randall (a simply slimy Steve Buscemi). The monsters have an endless collection of bedroom doors through which they are able to travel between their world and ours that allows monsters like Sulley and Randall to sneak in, scare the kids and make a quick exit. Things look good for Randall when Sulley accidentally lets a little girl from the real world into Monstropolis, causing panic within the community, as legend has it that a touch from a human child is fatal to any monsters!
Sulley finds the kid too adorable to dispose of, and tries with his friend Mike (Billy Crystal) to return her to the real world. However, Randall has discovered the kid, and the longer she stays in their world, the better his chances remain that Sulley will be found out and fired. Soon Mike and Sulley find themselves hiding little Boo, as they name her, from an array of dangers in Monstropolis, not least a band of crazy exterminators and some surprising and unexpected twists and turns! All this leads to the amazing attempt to get Boo back through her own door – a door that resides in the absolutely huge warehouse storage of Monsters, Inc…
The Sweatbox Review:
I’m not sure what Disney’s thinking is, but Monsters, Inc.’s rather less than stellar three-dimensional reissue in theaters at the tail end of last year could have pretty much been predicted, especially since the movie was being advertised as coming back to Blu-ray almost within the same breath. The marketing trick had worked for The Lion King, a small phenomenon all over again when it got a surprisingly successful 3D makeover a couple of years ago ahead of its latest home video release, but the reasons for that popularity were clear: this was a film – a huge hit back in 1994 – that kids who saw it then wanted to take their own children to see on the big screen, 3D or not.
It also had the fortune of not having been available on DVD for a good few years (old Platinum discs still knocking around notwithstanding) as well as, if we’re being honest, the good old-fashioned charm of being a traditionally animated hand-drawn picture. In short, seeing The Lion King back where it belonged, on the big screen, was an event all over again. Disney nearly fell over themselves to announce an ambitious slate of 3D updates for a variety of their library, including – bafflingly – a theatrical reissue for Beauty And The Beast a mere few months after the Blu-ray 3D disc had been released, as well as The Little Mermaid and Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc., all of which were also announced for home video release shortly afterwards.
With Beauty already available for the home in HD and 3D formats, and the promise of Nemo’s release already confirmed, these theatrical reissues were easily spotted by the general public as the quick-buck generators and, basically, home video promotional efforts that they inevitably were…and audiences largely stayed away, content to wait for the discs they could watch and keep at home. In Monsters’ case, it didn’t help that the film had come to HD as recently as late 2009, and I have the feeling that this was one re-release too far. With this and Nemo sinking at the 3D box-office, Disney has quietly cancelled The Little Mermaid’s theatrical reissue, switching its newly dimensionalized version to the film’s planned Diamond Edition later this year (a mistake, I think, when the unavailability of the film could have racketed up near-Lion King numbers again…but, like I said, I’m just not sure what Disney’s thinking is!).
It’s a shame the Studio tried to rush and pack too many releases together, and especially that Monsters, Inc. itself tanked, because if ever there was a film almost “pre-designed” to get an extra screen dimension added to it, then it was this one, a winner since its original release in 2001. Although DreamWorks’ Shrek eventually stole the prize for the inaugural Best Animated Feature award at the Oscars that year, it is really director Pete Docter’s competing film that has stood the test of time more solidly, unhampered – until this summer (or by Disney’s Circle 7 Animation’s sequel plans) – by the diminishing returns of the sequels upon sequels that the not-so-jolly green ogre eventually had to endure, although by all accounts that Circle 7 concept actually held great promise.
Instead, we’re about to be “treated” to a Pixar-approved prequel, Monsters University, featuring the early friendship of Mike and Sulley, and I have to say that I haven’t been too excited by the sneak peeks so far. Pixar has been on something of a sliding slope since its acquisition by Disney, and the reliance on franchises has been a little less easy to swallow than some of its more outlandish ideas for its original features. The Toy Story films lend themselves to continuing and evolving adventures, this is true, but Cars 2 left a sour taste for many and it has seemed, with Andrew Stanton’s unfortunate bombing with John Carter, that director Docter is the company’s one true bright spot now that Brad Bird has also apparently become more focused on his live-action exploits.
Also on the cards is Stanton’s Nemo sequel – rumored to be a guarantee for him to land another live-action feature gig – but I’m hoping that Monsters University, which Docter produces only, is not just his way of securing support for his secrecy-shrouded movie that “takes place inside the mind”. The mere fact that the Monsters sequel is a prequel should perhaps offer up hope that the Studio has found an angle worth exploring, since the original movie concludes with the most satisfying final shot that also suggests multiple avenues a legitimate follow-up could elaborate upon. Whichever way the cards fall, this original movie, the fourth collaboration between Disney and Pixar, will remain a true one-off, containing a real sense of awe and wonder, and what it takes to become a classic: heart.
On DVD, Monsters, Inc. was well served by Disney on disc, and now, with the movie revisited again in this new Blu-ray Disc edition, the questions are more about what this latest package can bring to the table (the answer, in short, is that the BDs here are not quite the same as the previous release, and for once the 3D platter actually holds a surprise or three in store). For me, Monsters is the perfect example of a Pixar project, following the established pattern of starting off with a whiz-bang sequence that really gets you excited, before often shifting back into a lower gear for a good following amount of the screen time. The gags are funny, the script is sharp, the performances are spot on, the story is developed, and everything seems to plod along pleasantly with no real surprises or particularly amazing stand out moments.
And then…it all goes ballistic, as the final reel creeps in with various story strands coming together, a twist or two, and certainly a character’s self-realization, all leading to an exhilarating thrill ride of an ending. Monsters Inc., Docter’s first Pixar feature and one that really started to lay the groundwork for the more emotionally layered and confident work that the Studio would continue through Ratatouille and Docter’s own recent Up, is very much cut from this same cloth. There are some great concepts (the Harryhausen Bar!) and the whole film is brimming with fantastic bits of business and wink-wink dialogue (“no, no, don’t worry…it’s lemon!”), but when the climax kicks in, it simply blows everything that has come before – or since, with the addition of 3D – out of the water!
With Monsters Inc., Pixar excelled themselves; it doesn’t have any of the contemporary pop music tunes that date the likes of Shrek even now – something I’m particularly hoping the prequel stays away from (but fearing that it won’t) – and skews to a slightly younger audience than most family movies, but is consistently more inventive. And, unlike the forced acceptance of a world like Cars, for example, the fact that we are asked to believe that monsters really do exist in the dark shadows of night isn’t something hard to swallow, along the same lines as toys that come to life, bugs that have their own social communities on a miniature scale, or the oceanic life of fish.
If there was any doubt about what lies in the closet when the lights go out, Monsters, Inc. provides the answers, doing so with the usual, gently-humored approach that Pixar excels at. The animation is, as you would expect, top-notch, and the Goodman-voiced Sully is a masterpiece of styling, performance and character movement. Mike’s little green man approach perfectly compliments Crystal’s manic twenty-words-a-second delivery, and the whole Randall design (a very Tim Burton-Nightmare Before Christmas look here, I felt) makes your skin crawl – just as it should! The story is tight, and moves along nicely as opposed to rushing through, and the climax is one of the most exciting and involving sequences ever seen in any animated film.
Mike and Sulley’s chase through the warehouse of kids’ bedroom doors was always impressive (I likened it before to “the airport conveyer belt scene from Toy Story 2 magnified, amplified, and blown-up to extreme proportions”), but seen in 3D it becomes even more of a thrill ride, seemingly extending the depth of the factory’s imagery to a limitless horizon or, if you will, to infinity (and beyond). Already a tour de force of everything that can be done in computer animation, Pixar shows just how ahead of the curve they always were, the added extra dimension bringing one of their most finely crafted features slap bang up to date and still looking better than anything else out there even after just over ten years. A contemporary classic for sure!
Is This Thing Loaded?
For once the bells and whistles of the 3D edition combo pack might make you want to sit up and take notice! Naturally the main feature works terrifically in both regular HD, where one won’t “miss” the added depth due to the perfect picture quality, but also certainly gains something in the authenticity of the monsters’ world when the pesky dimensional glasses are put on. I’m still no big fan of 3D, but I will admit that on occasion a certain title here and there can impress, and so far it seems – especially in the home – that brighter animated CG features, such as the likes of Disney’s Tangled or the surprisingly enjoyable Gnomeo And Juliet, are the ones to do it. Does Monsters match up? Well, you’ll find more comments on the image in the regular section below, but when it comes to the Blu-ray 3D disc, there’s more reason than usual to be pleased, since we are treated to three BDs of newly authored content.
First up, and presented presumably with Monsters’ theatrical reissue, is the animated short For The Birds in 3D (3:21), looking absolutely stunning. All these years later it’s still one of my favorite of the Pixar shorts, with some fantastically funny characterizations, all of whom pop onscreen in this 3D edition. When Monsters, Inc. came to DVD, the film’s five-minute end credit sequence (not included in the film’s 3D “print” here) was offered in close-up fullscreen, then frustratingly dropped for the initial Blu-ray release – but they’ve been reinstated here as Outtakes and Company Play in 3D, also now viewable in non-3D elsewhere in this set. Finally, those expecting the latest Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex in 3D (6:31) to have turned up on the Finding Nemo set (too obviously, since it was released with that 3D update in theaters) will instead find it included here, in both 3D and “flat” editions!
It’s Partysaurus Rex’s flat version (not the sharpest Toon in the toy box so far, to be honest) that also heads up the first of the supplements on the additional two regular BDs in this five-disc set. The original Monsters, Inc. DVD was a doozy of a set and this Blu-ray edition is one of the best such updates to a catalog title, with a mixture of HD and standard definition material, including the movie on DVD and Digital Copy, so that this impressively detailed movie can be played on a screen where all that rendering of Sulley’s individual hair goes to pot. (As well as losing an Introduction from Pete Docter, making way for the Rex short on the BD is the now dated and similarly timed featurette Building Monstropolis at Tokyo Disneyland, which depicted the development of the Ride And Go Seek attraction; essentially a company promotion, it did a pretty good job of not coming across as such, even if its loss here isn’t too regrettable.)
The aforementioned Academy Award-winning short For The Birds, as well as the made for video short Mike’s New Car (3:46), are both included, also playable with their own audio commentary on each – a nice touch, especially on Mike’s New Car, where Docter hands over the task to his appreciative and very enthusiastic (and surely now very grown up!) young sons. Then there’s another feature length filmmaker’s commentary with directors Pete Docter and Lee Unkrich, exec producer John Lasseter and co-exec producer and writer Andrew Stanton for the main feature itself. Well worth checking out if you haven’t heard it already on the original DVD or BD, even if it’s slightly disappointing that any additional Cine-Explore-styled embellishments haven’t been added, this is still an often insightful track, cut together from various takes and interviews from the sounds in the background.
The track never gets really bogged down too deeply with the technicalities of making the film, offering a nicely rounded chat that is of interest to both animation enthusiasts as well as casual viewers. Somewhat making up for the lack of Cine-Explore is the Monsters, Inc. Filmmakers’ Roundtable, a 21:35 discussion that gathers Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, producer Darla K Anderson and story supervisor Bob Peterson at the Pixar employees favorite hangout, the Hidden City Café, as they reminisce on production stories, the impact and repercussions of the 9/11 attacks, and elaborate on the inexplicable placing of a chimpanzee in the original DVD’s extras! Over to the second regular Blu-ray Disc, and Roz’s 100-Door Challenge is a placement game that will determine your Monsters, Inc. potential and find you the perfect job at the company.
Essentially one hundred questions or tests based on aspects from the movie, it’s a good time waster, though the mix of ridiculously easy and trick questions can be frustrating, especially when trying to race through for review purposes! Apparently dropping the upscaled editions of four of the DVD’s still-frame features from the previous BD (a Monsters, Inc. Employee Handbook, Guide To In-Jokes, Monster Of The Month and Scarer Cards – at least, I couldn’t find them), the bonus disc’s main menu is split into two “worlds”: that of the Humans and the Monsters. Heading into the Humans Only section opens up the door to a variety of behind the scenes clips and featurettes, broken up into individual sections, and leading the pack is the vintage Pixar Production Tour, an introduction to the filmmakers of Monsters, Inc. (3:46) featuring a younger and sprightly John Lasseter darting around the then-new Emeryville campus.
In Story, there’s a wealth of concept treatments and artwork, and after the introductory Story Is King clip (2:03), Monsters Are Real has the cast and crew jokingly referring to their experiences with monsterkind, in another short clip. The Original Treatment is also available for viewing here, and this is done very nicely as a 13:40 storytelling experience with original storyboards edited to a voice over (Lasseter/Docter?) reading out the treatment, instead of the text pages we are usually offered. A 4:39 Story Pitch for the Back To Work scene is played out by story supervisor Bob Peterson (also the voice of Roz). Banished Concepts is a series of five Deleted Scenes, presented by co-director Lee Unkrich (:32), in storyboard sequences (in HD), with the original scratch audio tracks. Some final animation that appeared differently in the film is shown in the Original Sulley Intro – not long, and not too different, but an interesting change.
A five-and-a-half minute Storyboard To Film Comparison can’t use the angle capability of DVD to allow switching between two stages of animation, so two alternate versions of the “kid-in-the-city” newsflash, with Mike and Sulley hiding from Boo in the house, are presented, as well as a third split-screen option. An extensive Art Gallery shows a wealth of various character concepts, both used and abandoned, as a series of still frame images, and it is intriguing to see the different approaches that went into the final look for each character. The Color Script will be a part of the production process familiar to Pixar fans, where an artist takes the movie script and designs painted images whose color relays the type of tone and feel the scene needs to be successful, and there’s a look at all the concept and final poster artwork created in building up the big city and promoting the film, respectively.
Designing Monstropolis is a three minute behind-the-scenes peek at the development of the world of the movie, and a Set Dressing Intro (3:22) shows how designer Sophie Vincelette creates a room or background in order for it to be passed on to the animators for placing their characters within the scene and providing for a “real” set environment. There’s a chance to wander through the sets themselves with a series of five specially rendered Location Flyarounds (7:25), which have an added air of authenticity thanks to the addition of Gary Rydstrom and Tom Myer’s atmospheric audio tracks. It’s a shame these are still SD only, but check them out, especially the “tour” of Monsters, Inc., for a couple of very funny extra gags!
In the Monster File, there’s more footage from the DVD’s Production Tour material, which covers the Cast Of Characters (5:54) and the voice actors who lend them their vocals. What Makes A Good Monster? is a 1:27 look at the characters themselves and what went into their designs. Moving on to Animation, and here is where the film begins to come to life. After the Animation Process intro (3:14) from the Studio Tour footage, there is an extensive 8-minute look at Early Tests for the film, with some very different looking main characters. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but do check these out, as they are fascinating to watch. Next up is a two-minute clip on the Opening Title Animation, taking in some original ideas (check out title director Geefwee Boedoe’s chin hair!) and the reason for starting the movie in this way.
Hard Parts (5:00, still labeling Tom Schumacher as president of Disney Feature Animation) has the animators, directors and producers reminiscing about the tougher problems they had to face during production, such as Sulley’s amazingly life-like fur, and seemingly simple things like Boo’s T-shirt. The Shots Department clip (2:15) takes things one step further and highlights other parts of production on which the creators felt they did their best work and, finishing up the Animation section, a Production Demo loses the angle feature from the DVD – making Unkrich’s “grab your DVD remote” intro redundant (why did they keep this again?) – and instead offers the four Storyreel, Layout, Animation and Final Color scenes as alternate selections, this time featuring the “23-19 situation” sequence.
We’re slowly coming towards a finished movie with the production process, so our next stop is Music And Sound. Here you’ll find a three-minute clip on the Monsters, Inc. Oscar-nominated score and Oscar-winning Best Song, If I Didn’t Have You by Randy Newman. Nominated 14 times for Academy Award recognition, it was fantastic to see Newman finally win for his contribution to Monsters, Inc., and although this clip still makes no mention of his Oscar, it does pay appropriate tribute to the songwriter and song. In Sound Design (4:16), Gary Rydstrom and Tom Myers let us into Skywalker Ranch to learn about some of the sources they used to create a selection of sounds in the final film: this four-minute clip used to make a nice introductory piece to the movie’s previously included isolated sound effects track, but that has been dropped here.
We finally reach the closing stages of Monsters, Inc.’s journey to the screen with the Release. Post-production has been completed, the effects have been rendered and the audio mixed; it’s time for The Premiere, a one-minute clip that runs like a promo for the premiere itself, a zippy, slick and over-far-too-soon look at the event at Disney’s El Capitan theater. In Trailers And TV Spots, in addition to four brief TV promos, you’ll find the theatrical trailer and the “Charades” promo, which took a gentle swipe at the then-current Harry Potter craze. The film’s initial “door” teaser is still missing, but International Inserts (1:08) is a fascinating look at the various changes that logos, signs and text goes through in order for Pixar to tailor their films for release in various foreign countries, a tradition that has its beginnings way back in Walt Disney’s original 1937 release of Snow White.
A Multi-Language Clip Reel (3:45, in HD) further explains the extent to which these films go to fit the vocals to the country of release, while keeping in style with the original voice actors’ intentions. In listening to the multitude of voices on offer, I noticed that there doesn’t seem to be a translation for “Harryhausen”, thus proving what a wide reach the animation effects genius has! A further Toys clip (1:30) is a blatant attempt to shift a few more Monsters, Inc. stuffed dolls, although it is fun to see the creators trying to come up with a non-commercial reason why they chose to market toys from the film (though there’s no escaping the fact that the billion dollar merchandising industry probably did have something to do with it – and the reason the characters are set to return to screens).
New to this Ultimate Edition is a chance – in addition to the dimensional version on the 3D disc – to see the movie’s Outtakes, including Mike’s Company Play: Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me!, that were added to the end credits during the original theatrical run. Pixar have cooled off on credit additions more recently (they’re not included in the credits here), which makes them even more fun to see again, although the DVD’s still image “reproduction” of Mike’s theater program for the Play is again a no-show. A Wrap Up winds up the Pixar Animation Tour, but again Unkrich’s parting comments are outdated to the authoring of this new BD edition. However, we’re far from done: instead of the Easter Eggs found on the DVD, a “hidden door” leads the way to several tests and gag reels, as well as more Pixar Tour footage including the crew atrium air show.
Then it’s back to the main menu to enter the Monsters Only door, to find additional programming featuring the animated cast. Under New Monster Adventures, there’s a chance to see several Monster TV Treats, a collection of promo spots running just over a minute. Ponkickies 21 is a couple of amusing segments produced by Pixar for a Japanese children’s series similar to Sesame Street. They are a nice couple of additions and the difference in limited and full CG animated are very much apparent (but in a good way), and the ability to add optional subtitles at least allows you to understand the clips. There’s also a “music video” for If I Didn’t Have You, the duet penned by Randy Newman and sung here by Goodman and Crystal, which isn’t so much a full-length promo as it is a one minute push for the CD soundtrack.
Behind The Screams features On The Job With Mike And Sulley, a two-and-a-half minute “special report” from “Channel 13”, which quizzes our two monsters about their job at Monsters, Inc. in another slice of animation created for the home video release. In Orientation, you’ll be offered the chance to sign up for Monsters, Inc. yourself, Welcome To Monsters, Inc. playing out the entire one minute “promo” for the Monstropolis company as seen in the actual film. Your First Day is a purposely grainy looking training film (3:35), as corporate as they come, complete with cheesy background music, dated graphics and happy employees gushing with joy at working for the biggest company in the city – hey, you’ll fit right in! The History Of Monster World is another funny little clip, drawn and narrated by Boundin’s Bud Luckey, a basic story of man and monster, and just why the monsters want to scare us all the time, also in HD.
Also offered from the main menu are “hidden” upscaled editions of four still-frame features from the DVD: The Monsters, Inc. Employee Handbook, a Guide To In-Jokes (where all of the major insider gags are revealed – for instance, did you know that Boo’s real name was Mary, after Boo’s voice actress, Mary Gibbs?), Monster Of The Month and Scarer Cards, which are the Pixar/Disney DVD team having a little fun, offering a joke guide to working at Monsters, Inc., the top scarer for the past year, and some inspired “collectible” trading cards, with particularly funny readings and remarks from Smitty and Needleman. Also, you might notice that many of the secondary monsters have been named after artists working at Pixar! With pretty much all of the important material from previous releases included again this time around, it seems Monsters, Inc.’s new stereoptical transfer is the reason for the overall re-authoring of content, but it’s something of a shame that the included single-disc DVD is not the same pressing of the original two-disc set’s first platter that came bundled in the last BD package.
That disc featured a unique isolated sound effects-only track, allowing us to hear the good work that Skywalker Sound put into placing every teeny spot effect. So this is a new DVD, porting over the Audio Commentary only, and not even the Dolby EX mix the previous DVDs had. Nevertheless, fans are likely to have at least one of the older editions, and one could argue that the isolated track was only something of a curio at best to all but the hardcore fans, and at least this also means the now redundant “reformatted 4:3” version has been consigned through the door marked Room 101. In addition to the included Digital Copy disc, the usual Disney Sneak Peeks across all discs include both the teaser and a new, longer preview for Monsters University with director Dan Scanlon, plus the Blu-ray debuts for The Little Mermaid, Wreck-It Ralph, the Mulan 2-Movie Collection and…yes…Planes.
Best. 3D. Cover. Art. Ever! I love the idea of the three-dimensional lenticular cards that Disney sticks to their specifically 3D Blu-ray packages, although on occasion they can become a little overly cluttered (Finding Nemo) when simplicity is the key to making the imagery come alive. I wasn’t too blown away when the initial sleeve was revealed for Monsters, Inc. and didn’t like the way the title had been split up across the bedroom door Mike and Sulley are peeking out from. But…the result seen for real is excellent, with a true dimensionality to the door that really reveals more “behind” it.
The limitations of the lenticular process means the door can’t quite make it totally closed or open, but the depth and overall effect is amazingly well done. Underneath the slipcover, the sleeve repeats the same kind of imagery we’ve seen on previous Monsters releases, the case itself containing two disc trays to hold the five discs back-to-back and in the end slot. Inside, a Movie Rewards code awaits, plus a booklet promoting upcoming product and advising that The Lion King and Lady And The Tramp are due to disappear back into the Disney vault at the end of April.
Ink And Paint:
In my take on Monsters, Inc.’s original Blu-ray upgrade, I labelled the image quality as being the “best Blu-ray picture, ever”. Even just over two years on, the transfer here still beats most of what has come since, save for possibly Pixar’s own super-richly-detailed Brave, blowing all else I have seen on the format out of the water. The original DVD was reference demo quality back in the day, but in HD the effects are stunning. The restoration of classic live-action and animation cinema has, for me, mostly been the highlight of the Blu-ray format, and just as seeing a film like Snow White free of all the print and cel debris can bring a whole new level of enjoyment, the processing here brings new depth to Monsters, Inc. – but depth that looks intentional rather than falsely engineered.
On the new Blu-ray 3D disc it goes even further, as I have hinted at throughout the review above. Tangled perhaps remains the benchmark for computer animated 3D imagery, but Monsters runs it close and perhaps even easily ties. My one caveat? That old gripe about brightness again, which is an inherent issue with the 3D glasses’ process than anything down to this transfer. But ghosting is mostly minimal to non-existent, even on the fast moving sequences, although it is (just about) there if you’re looking. I’m not sure if this is a post-conversion or natively re-rendered from original files, but I didn’t really notice any of the layering that can be a tell-tale of a retro-3D-fit, either, and the overall effect is that the film often plays as if it had been created with 3D in mind (a credit, more suitably, for the production designers more than anything else).
It really is a sight to behold, to be able to reach out and almost be able to stroke Sulley’s hair, so individual and lifelike it’s hard to grasp he is a computer generated character. If the scene where Mike and Sulley jump aboard the first of many doors in the Monsters, Inc. warehouse doesn’t make your jaw drop, then you need to get your eyes looked at, because the detailing on each individual door (and we’re talking thousands of ’em here) is just simply incredible and, as mentioned above, lifts the 3D processing up above simply being a gimmick – for this one movie only! – and more than assists the production design’s aims of creating such a huge and expansive space for the action to take place in, just as it should do. Exhilarating!
Replacing the previous Blu-ray’s DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is a new Dolby True-HD mix in the format that Pixar has seemed to prefer for their past few releases now. This time a full-featured 7.1 mix, I must admit that just as I can’t really tell a discernable different between DTS and a good Dolby track, I didn’t spot anything especially more involving between the 5.1 and 7.1 mixes. That original 5.1 track was stunning, so what we get here, technically, is even more “stunning-er”, with the surrounds now picking up a little more pace and spreading the sound around with wild abandon. Even the quieter moments have a distinct aural quality, thanks to the impeccable work done by the team at Skywalker Sound. Almost as excellent French and Spanish subs and dubs, in Dolby 5.1, are also included.
I recently wrote that Up could be Pixar’s most perfect picture, but coming back to Nemo at the tail end of last year and now to Monsters, Inc. really reminds how great the Studio has always been. With a terrific concept, the crew really pulled out all the stops in terms of production, animation and sound design; as good a reason as any as to why the film holds up (and warranted a sadly fumbled theatrical reissue). Remaining a timeless and now contemporary classic, this 3D remaster truly provides an immersive visual experience, for once, that rivals Tangled.
The new sound and image transfer also bests the film’s own already exceptional animation reference benchmark for Blu-ray: the film’s final door chase scene is as good a demo as any you’ll find in the medium, even if the discs’ extras authoring isn’t as smooth a ride as the original DVD set and hasn’t been “fixed” for this update. However, a plus is the extra content on the 3D disc and, although it doesn’t quite contain everything from previous issues, this Monsters, Inc. is one Ultimate Collector’s Edition that earns its name brilliantly.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?