The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount/DreamWorks - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 94 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: The vocal talents of : Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogan, Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, John Krasinski, Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert
Directed by: Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon
Music by: Henry Jackman
Written by: Maya Forbes, Rob Letterman & Wally Wolodarsky
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 29, 2009
"Alien problem? Monster solution"
The world's most unlikely heroes are on a mission to save Earth in DreamWorks Animation's Monsters Vs. Aliens. Ginormica, Dr. Cockroach Ph.D., The Missing Link, Insectosaurous and B.O.B. join forces to fight back when aliens attack.
I am a fan of animated films like Monsters vs. Aliens and always look forward to the chance to review one that I haven’t seen. I missed this during its theatrical run but had seen the trailer on another DreamWorks Blu-ray disc I had in for review. This film definitely has its roots based in the sci-fi genre and as a matter of fact borrows from some classic sci-fi films from bygone eras. To be specific it throws back to movies such as Attack of the 50 foot woman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Blob, and the Fly, to name a few. The story begins with Susan, voiced with plenty of personality by Reese Witherspoon, who is a gushing bride to be that is accidentally struck on her wedding day by a meteor. Unfortunately for Susan she immediately begins growing (during the ceremony!) and finds herself as tall as a building, with bleached white hair. The U.S Military were monitoring the meteor and suddenly appear and capture Susan. She awakens to find herself incarcerated in what appears to be a large, secure, military run facility. She soon learns that she is not the only one being held there. She is led into a huge common area where she meets Dr. Cockroach, (Laurie) a scientist who inadvertently turned himself into a man sized cockroach, B.O.B (Rogan) a bluish colored Blob created by accident in a civilian lab, the Missing Link (Arnett) of unknown origin, and Insectosaurus, a huge, non-speaking, furry insect that looms significantly larger than even Susan. Susan is visited by General W.R. Monger (Sutherland) who advises her that she is now in military custody and can no longer return to her old life. He also explains who the other “Monsters” are and background is later provided on how they came to be there. Meanwhile in a galaxy not too far away an alien by the name of Galaxhar (Rainn Wilson) has his computer scanning the galaxy for a substance called Quantonium which he needs to power his world conquering machine. As it turns out Quantonium was being carried by the meteor that recently landed on earth and on top of Susan, who the military has now codenamed Ginormica. Galaxhar’s computer discovers the presence of Quantonium on earth and he dispatches a giant robot drone to earth in order to retrieve it. Upon the drone’s arrival on earth and of course in all places, the United States, it is peacefully greeted by the U.S. President (Stephen Colbert) and military. The drone reacts violently and when all military efforts to stop it fail, Gen. Monger comes up with a plan to use earth’s monsters to quell the threat.
Of course there is more to the story as Susan and her new comrades learn to work together and form a mutual bond that leads to friendship. This comes in handy when the evil Galaxhar comes to earth in order to personally retrieve the Quantonium and enslave any humans that survive the onslaught. Susan’s character (my favorite) is probably fleshed out the best while B.O.B’s flighty yet lovable demeanor helps keep things light. This is a cute, family oriented film that has enough substance to keep interest high for adults while providing a good balance of action and humor that everyone should find enjoyable. Its characters aren’t black hole deep but each is likeable along with their all star voiced counterparts as they contribute their share of value to the storyline and film as a whole. The script and direction covers the bases necessary to make for a well rounded and entertaining animated film that you can sit and enjoy with your kids.
The rating is for sci-fi action, some crude humor, and mild language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Monsters vs. Aliens comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount/DreamWorks featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.7 mbps.
This is a reference quality audio/video presentation that looks and sounds superb. Images are painted with a near infinite level of depth and dimensional perspective that at times is visually arresting. Intricate details such as the supple flow and separation of individual strands of hair or the interwoven texture of Susan’s sneakers and jumpsuit are incredibly lifelike. I was able to fully appreciate the attention to detail that went into the look of each of the animated characters. This included things like the subtle but discernible shades in Dr. Cockroach’s hazel colored eyes or the varying shapes and sizes of the tiny air bubbles inside of B.O.B.’s translucent body. Colors are tonally rich with a beautiful and diverse palette that looks succulent in high definition. Contrast and brightness are stable and strike a wonderful balance that highlighted the multi-layered grays and delineated whites within the video. The wide angle shots of the daytime sky look impeccable as the varying gradational structure of the light and dark segments within the clouds and blue shading of the sky are realistically depicted. The fight sequence that takes place on the bridge makes excellent use of contrast to delineate the skyline against the chromatic elements within the frame as Susan battles the giant robot drone. The shots of the dark interior of Galaxhar’s ship and the cavernous complex where the monsters are housed has superb depth of field and resolvable shadow delineation. Blacks have excellent depth and dynamic range but don’t quite achieve the ink like levels of the best discs available in high definition. This is a minor quibble from an otherwise superlative presentation that simply looked stunning.
The lossless Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is just as strong as the video and is a real treat. This is an engaging mix that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is excellent as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated so that sound effects seem to traverse the room. Surround activity is frequent and immersive as both directional and spatial information mixed to the rear channels weaves an enveloping pattern of sound. Dynamics are energetic and forceful which lends weight to the plethora of impact felt moments during the movie. This is a fairly aggressive mix that makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its already powerful dynamic range. The result is impressive low frequency effects that have authoritative depth and response that occasionally contains infrasonic bass that is downright room shaking. Dialogue is rendered with aplomb and sonic details are refined and clearly articulated regardless of their position with the soundfield. This is an active and sophisticated surround mix that made for a fun, involving and demonstration level home theater experience.
- Filmmaker’s commentary with Rob Letterman, Lisa Stewart & Conrad Vernon
- Animator’s corner – PiP interactive BonusView featuring commentary/behind the scenes footage
- Trivia Track – Interactive pop-up feature
- Monstrous 3D and more (four pairs of 3D glasses are included) – B.O.B.s Big Break 3D game & 3D Paddleball
- Out of this world 2D fun – B.O.B.’s Big Break Game & (HD) Karaoke music party
- (HD) 3 deleted scenes
- (HD) Modern monster movie-making featurette – 17 minutes
- (HD) Tech of Monsters vs. aliens – featurette – 6 minutes
- (HD) DreamWorks animation video jukebox
Monsters vs. aliens makes for great animated entertainment as it harkens back to bygone era monster based sci-fi classics while cleverly integrating a few modern themes, likeable characters, and plenty of fun for the whole family. Paramount/DreamWorks has done a magnificent job with its high definition presentation on Blu-ray Disc. Its audio/video presentation is of reference quality and is sure to please those who like to show off their home theater systems. The bonus material contains interactive games, Blu-ray friendly features, audio commentary tracks and several bland featurettes that examine the production from the perspective of the filmmakers. I suspect that younger audience members will appreciate the extra features more so than adults but perhaps that was the intention. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed Monsters vs. aliens and its exemplary high def presentation only made it better. I recommend you take it for a spin.
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Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
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