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MONSTERS INC.
Ultimate Collector's Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn
Director:  Pete Docter
Audio:  DTS HD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Walt Disney
Features:  See Review
Length:  93 Minutes
Release Date: 
February 19, 2013

"Monsters Inc.  We scare because we care."

Film ****

Three key ingredients to creating a successfully entertaining story?  Take a well established premise, give it fresh motivation, and throw in a surprise twist.  Monsters Inc. does all of that, and in the space of maybe ten minutes or less.  That left a lot of room for the dual studios of Disney and Pixar to flex their creative muscles, and boy, did they ever.

The premise behind this computer animated offering?  The monsters in the closets and under the beds that every little kid knows about.  The fresh motivation?  That there is in fact a thriving business on the other side of that closet door, where the monsters collect the kids' screams and use them for power.  The twist?  The monsters are in fact deathly afraid of the children.

As wild as kids' imaginations can be, it's nothing compared to the residents of Monstropolis, where they actually believe children to be toxic and deadly!  They even have an entire government department dedicated to child prevention and decontamination. 

Rustling up scares, therefore, is risky business, and there's none better at it than Sully (Goodman), a big blue furball with the personality of someone who wouldn't hurt a mouse.  He and his best friend, Mike Wazowski (Crystal), who is a big green one-eyed sphere, are the top scream producing team at Monsters Inc.

The one thing the monsters fear most is a kid accidentally making its way through that closet door and into their world, and of course, that's exactly what happens.  When the snakey Randall (Buscemi) tries to cheat his way to better numbers, he leaves a door out, and Sully accidentally (gasp!) lets the child in!

While the city erupts in panic, he and Mike try their best to contain the "danger", with the object of getting the little girl back into the human world and keeping their bottoms out of the sling as well! 

That's the premise in a nutshell, but there's so much to Monsters Inc. that keeps it rollicking with entertainment.  It's fast, funny, visually stunning (arguably Pixar's finest work apart from Finding Nemo), and ceaselessly surprising.  Just when you think you've gotten a handle of everything the movie has to offer, it comes at you with one of the most exciting action sequences in recent memory as Mike and Sully make their way through a fast moving door factory!  Then, the picture surprises again, when you find you have a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye that isn't laughter induced.

This picture was nominated for Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Sound Effects Editing, and took home a statuette for Randy Newman's song "If I Didn't Have You", but even those accolades don't come close to expressing what a marvelous, imaginative romp this movie is.  As technology has improved, computer animation has opened up doors of endless possibilities.  If you can dream it, it can be done.

I'm thankful a few creative geniuses dreamed up Monsters Inc.

Video ****

The only possible improvement over the direct digital transfer of Monsters Inc. to disc is to deliver it in a high definition transfer.  Then, if you want to go even further, deliver it in spectacular, eye-popping 3D.  This Blu-ray is now the most beautiful and spectacular looking computer animated film I've seen in the format.  Everything from the eye-popping colors to the minute details, such as every strand of Sully's fur, works together to deliver a pristine and incredible visual presentation.  I noticed more detail this time around than ever before, like some of the names on the office doors, and even what's on the menu at Harryhausen's.  The fast paced door warehouse sequence is just jaw dropping...you can see every door, and there are hundreds if not thousands of them (and this is one of the key scenes that always made me wish for a 3D version of this film).  This is a superb treat!

Audio ****

The DTS HD soundtrack is better than ever before...more dynamic and potent, with incredible and almost constant use of the surrounds for both ambience and action.  Again, when the doors are whizzing around, you'll be right in the middle of it.  The music sounds incredibly lively, and the big scenes really pack a punch with the subwoofer usage.  Absolutely perfect!

Features ****

Disney continues to lead the way with their amazing combo packs, and this one brings you FIVE discs.  The first disc is the 2D Blu-ray edition of the film, and also includes the filmmaker commentary track, the short films "Mike's New Car" and the Oscar-winning "For the Birds", both with optional commentary, a new bonus short "Partysaurus Rex", a filmmaker roundtable discussion on the memories of the making of the movie, and a look at the newest Monsters Inc. attraction being designed in Japan!  Rounding out is BD LIVE for your internet-capable players, a number of sneak peeks, including Toy Story 3 and the arrival of Dumbo in high definition!

Disc Two contains two divisions for easier exploring.  "Monster World" is something the kids will like.  You get to train for your first day on the job at Monsters Inc., peruse the employee handbook, learn the history of the monster world, play games, learn trivia, and more.  "Human World" is more for the adult fans.  You can see deleted scenes, experience 3D location fly-arounds, enjoy an extensive art gallery, a guide to gags and in-jokes, watch extensive featurettes on the production and animation, and go behind the scenes of the Oscar winning theme song.  There are plenty of trailers, promos, galleries, and even the hilarious collection of outtakes and the final version of the company play.  Lastly, "Roz's 100-Door Challenge" is new to Blu-ray; take the test and see what kind of monster you'd make!

The third disc is the DVD edition of the film, for families on the go with DVD players in their cars, or for those who haven't yet made the upgrade to Blu-ray yet, but plan to.  It contains all the original DVD features.  And the fourth disc is for you to create a digital copy of the film for your portable device.

Last but not least, the final disc is the crown jewel...the 3D Blu-ray version of the film.  This disc also includes 3D versions of "For the Birds" and "Partysaurus Rex"...how cool!

Summary:

Monsters Inc. is better than ever on this amazing Ultimate Collector's Edition combo pack from Disney.  This is THE best high definition animated release on the market...and a fun, amazing 3D experience as well.  Enjoy!

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