Monsters, Inc. is such a wonderful and aesthetically-pleasing film that Pixar could have simply released a bare-bones version of it on Blu-ray and it would have still been worth the asking price.
But, Pixar seems incapable of doing anything “bare-bones,” so it’s no real surprise that the Blu-ray release of the film comes in the form of a four-disc combo pack that includes all-new bonus content and both a DVD and digital version of the film.
In case you are unfamiliar with the film, Monsters, Inc. is the story of James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), the top scaring team at Monsters, Incorporated, the power company serving Monstropolis. The city is powered by the screams of children, so Sulley and his coworkers must sneak into kids’ rooms at night and scare them in order to keep the city running. Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, since the monsters in the film are actually just as terrified of the children as the children are terrified of the monsters.
Problems arise when Sulley inadvertently lets a little girl wander into Monstropolis. He and Mike must overcome their fear of the children to get Boo (Mary Gibbs) back to her home before any of their coworkers or anyone at the CDA (Child Detection Agency) finds out she is in the city.
It’s a cute and original premise and one that works well thanks to the fantastic performances by Goodman, Crystal and Gibbs. John Goodman and Billy Crystal have a great chemistry together and they both do an excellent job bringing life to their monster characters. And Mary Gibbs, who was only two-and-a-half when she recorded her lines for the film, makes Boo one of the most adorable toddlers to ever appear on screen. It’s impossible not to love her character and feel genuinely invested in her relationship with Sulley.
The rest of the cast is as equally endearing. Steve Buscemi is perfect as Randall Boggs, Sulley’s rival at Monsters, Incorporated, and both Jennifer Tilly and James Coburn are memorable in their supporting roles. But the real star of the supporting cast is Bob Peterson, a Pixar employee who steals every scene he is in as Roz, the no-nonsense clerk.
While the voice acting and the story are both top-notched, what is most impressive about the film is the visually-stunning world the Pixar team has created. You can tell they had a lot of fun creating a monster city. Monstropolis is filled with vibrantly-colored monsters of all shapes and sizes. Sulley looks like a giant blue and purple teddy bear. Mike is a bulbous, one-eyed green monster. His girlfriend Celia is a fuchsia Cyclops with snakes for hair.
On Blu-ray, these monsters and the city itself really shine. You are really able to appreciate all of the subtle nuances of these characters and their world. You can admire each little hair on Sulley’s body or the individual flakes of snow that fall on him at the end of the film. There are also clever visual gags that you can pick up on for the first time (like the menu at Harryhausen’s). However, the scene that really makes this Blu-ray version worth the asking price (this is
why stores are set up for credit card processing) is the climactic door scene at the end of the film. Seeing it in high-definition really allows you to appreciate all of the detail that went into making that scene and watching it play out on Blu-ray is truly breathtaking.
As mentioned above, in addition to the film itself, there are a number of new bonus features created exclusively for this Blu-ray version of the film, including two new featurettes and a new mini-game.
The first featurette, “Filmmaker’s Round Table at Hidden City Café,” reunites the four main creative forces behind the film to share stories about making Monsters, Inc. It’s a fairly straightforward, 20-minute cut-and-dry featurette, but it’s worth watching if you are interested in learning more about Pixar’s filmmaking process. It was really fascinating to find out how the story developed over time and to see how it all came together. It’s also interesting to learn that because of the complexities of pulling off the Yeti sequence, at Pixar any difficult scene is now referred to as “The Yeti’s Cave.”
The second featurette is called “Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek: Building Monstropolis in Japan.” As the name implies, it is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a brand-new ride at Tokyo Disneyland. The ride gives people a chance to ride through Monstropolis playing flashlight tag with the characters from the film. It’s definitely worth watching, but I must warn you – there is a good chance it will end up making you jealous that you don’t live in Tokyo.
The new mini-game included on this release, “Roz’s 100-Door Challenge,” involves answering 100 different questions as part of an application process for working at Monsters, Incorporated. It seems aimed at children, but even as an adult, I found myself bored with the process at around question number five.
In addition to the new content are all of the bonus features that appeared on the original DVD release of the film, including the two animated shorts For the Birds and Mike’s New Car. There is also an entertaining documentary offering you a tour of Pixar and a featurette showing off different character designs and artwork. (The artwork has actually been rescanned in high definition, which is a nice touch.)
My only knock on the bonus content is that it is occasionally tough to navigate. I went looking for the blooper reel that was included on the original DVD release to make sure it was included, since it isn’t actually advertised on the back of the Blu-ray. I did eventually track it down, but it was buried in a section called “Release,” under the “Human’s Only” grouping of bonus content. Considering how enjoyable the blooper reel is, and how much it was advertised when the original DVD came out, it seems odd that it would be unadvertised and buried on this new release.
Still, it’s a good sign when my biggest complaint about a film is that it is packed with so much bonus content that it’s tough to find certain features. Obviously, I am a huge fan of this film and this four-disc release lives up to the quality you’ve come to expect from Pixar. I highly recommend picking up the Blu-ray version of this film, even if you already own it on DVD.
Written by Joel Murphy. Monsters, Inc. is available tomorrow on Blu-ray.
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