I'm a sucker for CG animated films, and with the products that Pixar, DreamWorks, and Disney put out each year, it's difficult to compare other animated efforts from other countries. Some of the Pixar films are in my top movies of all time, so I always have very high hopes. 'A Monster In Paris' comes from France and has all the characteristics of something from Pixar, but loses its edge and charm slightly due mainly in part to its voice casting. That being said, the storyline and characters all have something to offer, making this twisted tale engaging for not just children, but for adults too.
The film tells the story of love, friendship, and music as we meet Emile, a shy and clumsy film projectionist who spends most of his days daydreaming of Maud, the pretty co-worker. While daydreaming, Emile messes something up with his film setup and has to purchase a new belt, so he calls up his best friend Raoul, a delivery man who moonlights as an inventor of sorts, and carts them away in a ridiculous car to purchase a belt and a camera. Their friendship is true and endearing, and as the story goes on, we meet Lucille, a childhood friend of Raoul's who happens to be the singing sensation at a local nightclub.
Lucille is unhappy, because her mother is forcing her into an arranged marriage with the local police officer, Maynott. Sure, Maynott seems to have a lot of pride and integrity in what he does, but there is an underlying evil to him, like most villains in these animated features seem to have, which of course rears its ugly head in full force. Meanwhile, Raoul has taken Emile on another delivery, this time to the Botanical Garden's science lab, where it seems the professor is not in, but his assistant is. That assistant is an actual monkey named Charles.
Raoul takes this rare opportunity to experiment with some of the secret formulas and mixtures, which causes Charles the monkey to develop a perfect singing voice, and for one of the sunflowers in the lab to grow 20 times it size. However, due to it's size, the sunflower topples over and causes a huge explosion. Here is where the flick reminded me of 'Super 8', where we see some sort of giant monster emerge and escape, which was all caught on film. Come to find out, Lucille is looking for a co-star in her act, and while she has said no to people including an employee of the night club, she comes across this monster, and while terrified at first, she realizes it has a gentle heart and an amazing singing voice.
I don't want to give anything away, although the trailer for the film spoils quite a bit, I think you will enjoy this movie more if you know nothing more about it. Don't forget to stay tuned through the credits.
The american voice cast includes Jay Harrington, Madeline Zima, Adam Goldberg, Vanessa Paradis, Bob Balaban, Sean Lennon, Catherine O'Hara, and Danny Huston, which are all decent actors, but it seems they really phoned in their voice work. And I truly believe that the voice work of an animated film is one of the vital keys to its success. I've seen sub-par animated story lines and characters, but the voice work was incredible, giving it a better overall experience. However, with 'A Monster in Paris', it didn't seem to have any excitement or passion, therefore it came across as if the actor's were just reading off a script instead of really becoming the characters, and therefor we really can't relate to them as much as we would like.
The story itself is grand and a lot of fun. It's a fun adventure with rich characters and is always light and kind. Director Bibo Bergeron who is known for directing 'The Road to El Dorado' and 'Shark Tale' puts a lot of his talent to use here with some decent sequences that really captivates. Well worth a look overall
'A Monster in Paris' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer with a 3D option presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The animation style of this French feature is amazing. The colors are wonderful, leaning more towards the brighter colors such as more pastels and colors that are on the paler side of the spectrum. By doing this, I think it gives the film a tiny bit of a filmic look in that it doesn't have loud bright colors that pop off screen all the time, like we saw with 'Wreck It Ralph'.
The detail is amazing as everything seems to be crystal clear, with the textures easily distinguishable throughout the film. The 3D is decent enough and provides a bit of depth, however I noticed the 3D was better when there was less on screen than in wider shots. Objects on screen seemed to have good depth and you could tell they were on different planes, however it didn't have that extra push to make it a truly phenomenal and unforgettable 3D experience. I think this film would have been perfectly fine without the 3D option, which is also an option on this disc. I did not notice any problems as far as artifacting, halos, banding or image blur of any sort. This is a very good video presentation, but it's not one you will showcase to anyone who are looking for a demo.
This release comes with an impressive lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds great. The dialogue is crystal clear and very easy to understand, even over the score and sound effects. There was no evidence of any hissing or cracks throughout the film. The bigger action scenes made the speaker system receive a great workout as cars were chasing each other, the ambience in the night club, and the experiments at the science lab were going awry. The ambient noises of the city and patrons of the various establishments were amazing and came across nicely through the rears and surrounds. The directionality of the voices and cars were also superb here too. The score, which was very good, never drowned out any of the loud sound effects, dialogue or environmental sounds. This was a solid audio presentation.
It's going to be very difficult to compete with the likes of Pixar and the other American animation studios. I think we have a top notch operation here, however that doesn't mean that great and solid work doesn't come out from other countries. 'A Monster in Paris' has a lot going for it in the way of its story, the characters, and music. However, even though the voice talent are all quality actors, it seems like their performances were phoned in. The video and audio presentations are top notch, but aren't quite demo worthy and the 3D felt a little bit underwhelming. Not to mention that this multi-disc set has only one extra, which is a trailer is completely annoying and uncalled for. However, that being said, this is movie is worth a look overall.