The first time I saw 'Monsters, Inc.' I was living in England. An acquaintance had given (and I stress given) us a pirated VHS copy of the film. Someone had video recorded the movie in the theater on a home camera and made tapes of it. I tell this story, because even with the loud screeching sound that was being emitted by the tape, the overall blurriness of the picture, the child crying loudly in the background, and the abnormally tall silhouette head that was covering the lower right of the movie screen I still LOVED this movie.
Once we got a chance to find a proper cinema to go to, we went and saw 'Monsters, Inc.' in all its big screen glory. I found it to be, and still think of it as, the most inventive and creative film done by Pixar thus far. Is it my favorite? I wouldn't say so, but I think that the creativity expressed has yet to be rivaled throughout Pixar's glorious reign as CGI animation king.
Monsters live in a parallel world to humans. Their only passage into that world is through the closet doors of small children. It just so happens that the screams emitted by children after seeing a monster emerge from their closet are the power that lights the cities of Monstropolis.
Sulley (voiced by John Goodman), a giant blue monster is thick fur and ridges on his back like a dragon, is at the top of his scaring game. He's about to break the all-time scare record. His assistant, Mike, is made up of a single eyeball and a dry Billy Crystal wit. Hot on Sulley's tail (literally) is Randall, a chameleon-like monster who is vying for the leader board position for most scares.
With little exposition, Pixar creates a world in which we know exactly what is happening without them telling us anything. Doors run along a conveyor belt, and lock into place. Once switched on these doors are magically transformed into portals of fear, sending monsters straight into the rooms of children all around the world. It's such a simple concept, but the creativity that it took to execute this is out of this world. In the simplest of ways, like a child's sock getting stuck on the back of a furry monster, and the subsequent freak out from the surrounding monsters we realize that monsters are just as afraid of kids as kids are of monsters. What a perfect storyline.
Goodman and Crystal are perfectly matched here. The best one-two punch in Pixar animation up until Ed Asner and Jordan Nagai in 'Up.' The animation at the time of its release was like nothing that had ever been seen before. How the hair on Sulley moved and appeared to be alive with every step he took was a monumental achievement in CGI animation.
'Monsters, Inc.' was an instant classic as soon as it hit theaters, and has only gotten better with age. The creativity involved with the film is astounding, the writing is clever, the story is perfect and the characters are loveable. Children and adults alike can sit down and enjoy this film again and again for years to come.
'Monsters Inc.'s 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is presented in pure Pixar style, near perfection. The colors have never been more vibrant than they are now. Detail is maxed out. The darker splotches on Mike have never been clearer. Each and every scale on Randall's body is perfectly visible and defined. Blacks are deep and rich, while contrast is perfect. Edges are clearly defined, and the film is free from digital artifacts like banding, crushing, or blocking.
'Monsters Inc.' is about as good as it gets on Blu-ray. For the most part it's perfect demo material. I really wanted to give this five stars for its video transfer, but one technical quibble holds this transfer back from absolute perfection. The fine fringe hairs on Sulley's body are a hotbed for aliasing. At times, during close ups, the aliasing becomes distracting and very noticeable. Having just watched and reviewed 'Ice Age 3' where most of the main characters have fine fringe hairs without any aliasing problems, I couldn't let something like that pass by without letting readers know about it. Be it known though, that the aliasing problem is the one and only annoyance in this otherwise beautiful high definition transfer of one of Pixar's greatest films.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 attached to this release is nothing short of magnificent. I'm glad to say that, unlike the video presentation, the audio track harbors not one single imperfection. Disney and Pixar have created an engrossing soundtrack that sucks you into the film and never lets go. Surround channels are alive for the entirety of the movie. As Mike, Sulley, and Boo fly through the door room being chased by Randall, doors whoosh by you on every side, making you feel like you're hanging on with the heroes. The LFE output is another point of perfection. Some of the deep bass will literally shake your room. The bass is deep and clear without being overpowering. Panning effects, like a helicopter flying in from out of scene, are completely immersive. The front and center channels handle the dialogue and front-centric effects with precision. This is a completely enveloping audio presentation from beginning to end.
After reviewing 'Snow White,' and wading through all of the special features housed there, I think that there can actually be too many special features. This version of 'Monsters, Inc.' is absolutely loaded with special material, but at times it can feel a bit like overload. Disney saw fit to include all the special features from the latest collector's edition of 'Monsters, Inc.' on DVD, but didn't give them the HD treatment. Overall, this is a stellar special features package, everything that you want to know about the making of the film is contain herein, but be warned that getting through each and every feature will take quite a while.
'Monsters, Inc.' is a classic, plain and simple. It will be a movie that, like the classic animated films of Disney, will stand the test of time. It has and will be beloved by children and adults for years to come. It has found a perfect home on Blu-ray with a near perfect video presentation and a superbly crafted, demo worthy, audio presentation. This is simply a must own for any Blu-ray collection.