Most of us as small children may have gone through the stage where we believed in monsters. We imagined the lurking in the closet, hiding under our best or waiting in the darkness of shadows in the corners of our childhood bedrooms. A nightlight and a story read before closing our eyes for sleep could banish them for the night. As adults we never give such childish matters a moment of thought, that is until 2001 when a delightful film brought childlike wonder back in our lives’ ‘Monster’s Inc.’. This movie brings back one of the most frightening aspects of a normal childhood within the context of imaginative, completely entertaining family fun. It should come as no surprise that the people behind this movie were none other than the pinnacle of family entertainment; Pixar and Walt Disney Studios. ‘Monster’s, Inc. is an animated film but do not make the mistake of confusing this with the feature length cartoon from our youth. This is as far removed from those flicks as the Wright Brother’s tiny bi-plane is from a modern jumbo jet. Pixar was at the forefront of an animation revolution bringing to bear new advances in both hardware and software making computer generated graphics into a technological format that can soar above anything before. When this leading edge graphics was combined with over sixty years of storytelling experience found in the Disney organization the result is nothing less than sheer magic. This was the fourth movie in the Pixar catalog and the true start of them dominating the universe of animation in cinema. Since then they have been producing the year’s best films; not just the best animated movies but the best period. The level of animation certainly places their work in a class of their own but that is not the only reason for the success they have achieved. For that you must consider the warmth and humanity that films like this convey. The movie has had a DVD release already but now they have come up with a new high definition Blu-ray edition that puts the previous releases to shame.
Behind the creative were a number of people led by Pete Docter and Jill Culton. Doctor would and would later go on to continue as writer and director with subsequent Pixar-Disney classics like ‘Up’ and ‘Wall-E’. For Culton this was her first script after moving from the art department for ‘A Bug's Life’; she also served in that former capacity in this movie as well. The story is concerned with a couple of question most kids have pondered in the safety of daylight; why are the monsters hiding in the closet and where go to go when morning comes. It turns out that the closets of kids become a portal to the city of Monstropolis, a place completely inhabited by monsters of every shape and size imaginable. The city is powered by the screams of little children so each night monsters go out into the human world to renew their power source by scaring the kids. The creatures aren’t really mean or dangerous; they are more like the average working class guy just trying to do his job. In this case they work for ‘Monster’s Inc.’, the power utility for Monstropolis. Like most large corporations there is a hierarchy with some behind the scenes in support and others on the floor going out to the real world to gather the screams that power their existence. One of the best at scaring children is James P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) better known to his friends simply as Sulley. For quite some time he has held the record for most scares on a shift at work. Their world has been losing energy for some time since kids just don’t get scared in the dark the way they used to. One day Sulley discovers a doorway still active and meets a little girl, Boo (Mary Gibbs) who follows home back to his world thinking he is nothing more than a big kitty. Sulley turns to his best friend, a giant eye ball named Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal), for help and advice. Meanwhile Sulley’s rival and runner up for top scarer, Randall Boggs (voiced by Steve Buscemi) has devised a machine to forcibly extract screams from children but they have to be kidnapped and brought to the monster world to work. What follows is a potential paradigm shift that will rock the world to its core.
The amazing about this film is the level of humanity it achieves. You will almost instantly forget you are watching animation, accepting the characters and their personalities just as if this was a live action film. Pixar is able to give life to these wacky creatures with an unbelievable amount of detail. The high definition format reveals more of this attention to the nuances than previously possible. Each blue hair on Sulley moves in a completely natural fashion responding to movement and even a slight breeze perfectly. Even if you have the DVD version this Blu-ray is a must have. That is until the recent release of a new version in 3D.
The added dimension was initially introduced with a somewhat brief theatrical stint. While this is a blatant marketing plot it can be forgiven thanks to the superior quality of the film and how much fans like me and my family wanted to this wonderful fantasy in 3D. The wait was well worthwhile. The Disney/Pixar team did an absolutely fantastic job of retooling the film. With any movie from this team there is an inherent three dimensional feel to the graphics as a result of cutting edge process they employ. Once that was reverted and brought back the movie takes on a new life building upon its established greatness. This is in anticipation for the upcoming prequel covering the pair’s college years. Undoubtedly this will be natively to 3D.
Each and every frame, all 8 million o0f them, was painstakingly revisited and reprocessed to bring out an unimaginable degree of realism. Everything previously noted about the high definition is not only still true but the illusion of depth magnifies the experience. With this movie you have to keep coming back to some of the groundbreaking innovations created for graphic programming used. You cannot help but take note of Sully’s blue fur. In 2D high definition you could readily discern each individual strand meticulously programmed to move the way real fur would. When this level of detail is enhanced with 3D the hairs are free to sway and blow in all directions. The breeze literally ripples across Sully’s body. The audience’s first look at Monstropolis becomes encompassing, little items or creatures added for atmosphere pop out of the background pulling you into the fantasy environment. Another effect to look out for is anytime Randal reveals himself. Not only does his coloring change but it seems that he is lifting out of the background towards you. Let’s face it, this is how a 3D film should look. The new set is a five disc spectacular providing the film in every possible fashion including DVD and digital copy. The fifth disc is dedicated to the usual Disney/Pixar assortment of extras.