The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/3D Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Disney - 2001
MPAA Rating: G
Feature running time: 91 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Voice talents of: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Mary Gibbs, John Ratzenberger, Bonnie Hunt, Bob Peterson
Directed by: Pete Docter
Music by: Randy Newman
Written by: Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, Ralph Eggleston
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 19, 2013
The now-classic Academy Award®-winning animated comedy adventure “Monsters, Inc.” is set in Monstropolis, a thriving company town where monsters of all shapes and sizes reside. Lovable Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) and his wisecracking best friend Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) are the top scare team at Monsters, Inc., the largest scream-processing factory. The main power source in the monster world is the collected screams of human children—and at Monsters, Inc., an elite team of scarers is responsible for gathering those precious natural resources.
Believed by monsters to be toxic, children are strictly forbidden from entering Monstropolis. But when a little girl named Boo (voiced by Mary Gibbs) accidentally follows Sulley back into his world, he finds his career in jeopardy and his life in utter chaos. Assisted by Mike, the two pals plot to rectify the mistake and return Boo to her home. When the trio encounters an unexpected series of complications, they become embroiled in a cover-up catapulting them into a mystery beyond their wildest dreams.
When Monster’s Inc. was first released on Blu-ray back in 2009 I was excited to experience it in high definition. Not only is it among my favorite Disney/Pixar films but it looked very good on DVD and I couldn’t wait to see what it would be like on Blu-ray. My expectations were met as it looked stunning and sounded just as good. Here we are 3 + plus years later and I find myself once again excited at the thought of watching Monsters Inc. on Blu-ray however this time it is because Disney is releasing it on Blu-ray with a brand new high definition 3D transfer. Of course not willing to rest on their laurels Disney is including a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack (in favor of the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track on the original release) on both the 3D and 2D versions and tossing in a couple of additional features (in 3D!).
I am going to incorporate many of the details from my original review as most are still pertinent. This review will cover all of the contents of this 5 disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition even though there will be redundant information taken from my 2009 review.
I would hope that by now most reading have seen or are at least familiar with Monsters, Inc. from Disney/Pixar. By 2001 Disney/Pixar collaborations had already won us over with Toy story, and A bug’s life so we looked forward to this one. We saw it with our children and of course loved it. I won’t go into a long breakdown of the story as there plenty of places to read about that. I have been asked which of the Disney/Pixar films I like the best. That is a tough question because they are all really great and my opinion seems to change. I think that the best way to answer that question would be to say that my personal favorite happens to be whichever one I feel like popping into my player.
With Disney releasing them on Blu-ray I have been able to experience them in a new way and it seems like whenever I finish watching one I say to myself ‘this is my favorite’. That is exactly how I felt after watching Monsters, Inc. for this review. I haven’t seen it in a number of years although we have owned it on DVD since its release. The story isn’t complex as it draws definable boundaries between good and bad while adding a blue collar/corporate plotline that keep it from seeming too elementary. It is filled with well constructed characters, clever exposition, and intelligent direction that make it fun and memorable. The cast is wonderful as each has their moment to shine and does so with enthusiasm. John Goodman as Sulley and Steve Buscemi as Randall represent two of the best character matches I have seen in an animated film. That is to take nothing away from Billy Crystal, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly or any of the other actors that lent their voices to these great characters.
Going back to the topic of favorites there is one area where I can unequivocally state that I do have one. If I was asked which of the Disney/Pixar characters out of them all elicited the highest “awwww” factor it would have to be “Boo” from Monsters, Inc. She is absolutely the cutest with her range of expressions, sounds and huge brown eyes being totally irresistible. No wonder poor Sulley fainted when he thought she went through the trash compactor. Monsters, Inc. is a funny, charming and endearing family film that gives us some of Disney/Pixar’s most beloved and memorable characters. Like most of you I was excited when Disney announced that it was finally coming to Blu-ray Disc. I am happy to report that the wait was worth it as this is a complete package that is demonstrably worthy of this film.
This film is appropriate for all ages.
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:
3D Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Depth (Onscreen):
- Dimension (Beyond the screen):
- Color reproduction:
Monsters. Inc. 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate 6.2 Mbps.
I had high hopes for this 3D presentation and of course I wasn’t disappointed. While I don’t mind gimmicky in your face 3D effects I much prefer to view 3D that takes advantage of the depth and dimension that can bring images onscreen to life in a visually involving and natural way. This is a stellar 3D presentation that features superlative onscreen dimensional correlation. A great example can be seen in the sequence where Mike and Sully walk down the street on their way to work. The shot is seen looking down the street as they walk toward the camera. The cars, trees, “monsters”, objects (fire hydrant, store front) and structures of varying shapes/heights have excellent dimensional spacing. Another great example can be seen in the sequence where Sully and Boo rush down the darkened corridor leading to Randall’s secret chamber where he is holding Mike. Depth of field is strong as the long hallway’s objects both on the walls and floor have realistic proportion. Near field perspectives are similarly used to effectively enhance dimensional correlation.
There is a scene in the locker room where Sully loans Mike a can of “odorant”. The camera perspective momentarily switches to the interior of the small locker looking outward. The items in the locker are staggered in size and distance from the locker opening as well as the side walls. Textures abound as the richness of the digitally created objects onscreen are incredibly nuanced and lifelike regardless of their placement within the frame. Sully’s flowing fur looks about as lifelike as it comes. Detail is impeccable as the video retains a high level of clarity that is enhanced by the seemingly bolstered reproduction of color and contrast. Dare I say that this presentation has more visual pop than the 2D version? It certainly seemed that way to me and that is saying a lot as both look spectacular. This isn’t an effects laden spectacle however there are enough floating, flying and screen popping objects to keep 3D zealots happy. As for me, this is 3D entertainment at its best.
Comparing this new Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless surround mix to the DTS-HD Master Audio track on the original Blu-ray release I honestly couldn’t say with certainty that I detected a quantifiable difference. There may have been some added potential in the rear soundstage via the discrete channels although as I said any difference is subtle enough to be purely subjective. My impression of this presentation is identical to that of the original.
This is not an aggressive or action style sound mix but its ability to deliver an engaging home theater experience is not to be underestimated. This animated film uses an intricate sound design that has to maintain a delicate balance so the plethora of sound effects, music and dialogue within the soundtrack can be clearly and easily interpreted by the audience. Dialogue is distinctly perceptible and articulated so that even subtle changes in the inflection of the voices among the cast is detectable. Sound effects are accurately placed within the sound field and establish a tight correlation between the onscreen information and what is being heard within the listening environment. This creates an immersive and involving soundscape that is abundantly rich in detail. Its wide dynamic range can go from subtle, intricate control to room energizing dynamism.
The wonderful music score occasionally takes center stage as it is broadcast over the entire system with high level detail and smooth, strident free treble. Low frequency effects accentuate the music, sound effects and dynamic impact of the audio with aplomb. The effect produces bass response that is demonstrative as it reaches transient levels that rumble deep enough to give the upstairs china a shake. A great example can be felt during the sequences where Mike makes Boo laugh. An electrical arc resonates throughout the soundstage and is accompanied by an extended low frequency surge that energizes the room. A briefer example occurs early on when Mike and Sully are walking to work and they run into the giant (?). When the giant steps off of the curb and walks off his footfalls resonate deep within the room.
The scene that puts everything together quite nicely and makes for great demo material is the door conveyor chase sequence in the third act. This segment sounds incredibly nuanced, with impeccable near filed correlation and an almost infinite feeling of dimension. It features superlative surround sound and bass response that sounds terrific. All in all this is a spectacular audio/video presentation that looks and sounds great no matter how may times you have experienced it.
** It should be noted that I experienced two back to back non-repeatable audio dropouts at right around the 00:13:10 mark on the 3D disc. I was unable to reproduce it. I also had one incident where the lip synch was slightly off (didn’t note the exact time marker but it was approximately 00:45:00 or so). Pausing the audio and restarting solved the problem and I didn’t have any further issues. Spot checks performed on the 2D Dolby TrueHD Blu-ray track didn’t reveal any problems.**
2D Video Quality:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Monsters, Inc. comes to Blu-ray disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 mbps.
This is a reference quality high definition presentation that delivers superlative imagery. When it was first released the DVD it was the go to for reference/demonstration purposes as it exhibited incredible depth, lush color and clear delineation. This presentation literally takes it to another level entirely. The quality of the images onscreen can be visually arresting. Detail and definition is impeccably rendered as images have a resplendent and sparkling clarity that is appreciably three dimensional. The attention to detail in the construction of the animated characters features and objects within each frame is fascinating. Looking at Sulley’s face I was able to discern the smaller hairs that begin around his mouth and gradually become longer as the spread out toward his chin and jaws. I couldn’t get over the depth of the beautifully rendered colors.
Colors are deeply saturated with clean, lustrous vibrancy and succulent texture that is truly beautiful to behold. Primaries are particularly vivid and exhibit visible gradational stages that bring out subtle degrees of separation. Each of the characters has distinctive physical qualities that are attributable to them not only in size and shape but color as well. Blacks are punchy with appreciable dynamic range and deep gradational highlights. The good example of this can be seen in chapter 22 as Sully and Boo go looking for Mike and enter the tunnel/pipe access way. The dark and shadowy confines of the darkened labyrinth against Sulley’s light colored fur and Boo’s lavender costume have incredible depth as the entire sequence looks remarkably dimensional. Contrast is striking without over stimulating colors or washing out white detail.
I made two minor deductions as I felt that some of the wide angle shots tended to lack definitive definition although this is probably a limitation in the original source. I also felt that black levels, while excellent overall, fell just shy of the best that I have seen. These are rather minor nits to pick in an otherwise terrific video presentation that has never seen this film looking this good on home video.
- 3D Blu-ray of Monsters, Inc.
- 3D (HD) Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex – 6 minute animated short
- 3D (HD) For the birds – 3 minute animated short
- 3D (HD) Outtakes and company play – 5 minutes
- 3D (HD) Sneak peek – Monster’s University
- 2D Feature Film Blu-ray
- (HD) Filmmaker’s roundtable – 21 minute discussion
- (HD) “For the birds” – animated short – with optional director commentary
- (HD) “Mike’s new car” – animated short with optional audio commentary
- Audio commentary with Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter
- BD-Live enabled
- Six Disney previews
- Roz’s 100 door challenge: Interactive exam feature
- Documentaries: Human only
- Pixar fun factor tour
- Story – 4 segments
- 5 Banished concepts with introduction by Lee Unkrich
- Story to film comparison – 3 segments
- Art gallery
- Designing Monstropolis
- Set dressing/Set dressing introduction
- Locations fly around
- Monster file – 2 segments
- Animation/animation process – Production demo (4 segments) with introduction
- Music, sound, sound design – “Monster song” featuring John Goodman & Billy Crystal
- Release – TV spots, Trailers, Outtakes
- Wrap up
- Monsters only
- New monster adventures – Monster TV treats, Ponkickies 21, “If I didn’t have you” music video
- Behind the screams – On the job with Mike and Sulley
- Orientation – Welcome to Monsters, Inc., Your first day, History of the monster world
- Bonus DVD of Monsters, Inc. including DVD bonus features
- Disney File Digital Copy Bonus Disc
Monsters, Inc. is a wonderful family film that has an endearing charm and entertaining story that people of all ages can appreciate. With this second Blu-ray release Disney continues to set the bar with technically proficient Blu-ray offerings that yield high quality audio/video presentations that fans and enthusiasts are sure to appreciate. This 3D rendering adds and enriching and entertaining element that builds upon an already top notch high definition package that includes a few new extras to sweeten the pot. Those that already own the first release and aren’t interested in 3D or the prospect of a 7.1 channel surround mix can probably skip this one. However if you’re a 3D fan or haven’t already purchased Monsters, Inc. on Blu-ray this Ultimate collector’s Edition should be at the top of your list and is a must have. Enjoy!
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package