|Wonderful Film -- Incredible Package
|I wouldn't think it's necessary to say much about the story of this film -- to avoid boring people who have seen it, and to avoid possible spoilers for people who haven't (few as there may be). Of course it's a five-star film.
And what could i say that hasn't been said already by someone, anyway? I could say this film is wonderful. That it's genuinely heart- warming, and that it legitimately earns every single tear it jerks... and that the last shot is one of the most wonderful moments i've ever seen in this sort of film. That the characterisations are spot on -- John Goodman's Sully and Billy Crystal's Mike are absolutely believable as roommate/ buddies. The computer animation is, as usual with Pixar, state-of-the-art (and, by this time, i think we can safely say that the technique is *not* just a passing fad).
The script is excellent, and the basic concept, that little childrens' screams, captured by appropriate machinery, power Monsteropolis, making scream collection of paramount importance (at least, until one big-hearted monster actually comes to *know* a child), is a very nice conceit on which to hang the story.
And that last shot...
But the DVD set -- ah, THERE is something to talk about... and that earns another five star rating.
I have had this set in my hands for a bit over a week, and i still haven't exhausted all of its possibilities. (I have found one easter egg, by the way; i'm sure there are more.)
Trailers, of course, for older films coming out on video/DVD, newer direct-to-video releases, and upcoming theatrical releases, at least one of which looks Impressive.
The movie, available in either widescreen or standard TV format. The nice part here is that, unlike conventional films, shot widescreen, it was not necessary to cut off parts of the screen image to make the film fill the screen. Instead, it was quite simple to merely have the computer make two versions of each image, the same width but to show *extra* space at the top and bottom of the frame to fill up the full height of the TV screen without having to cut anything from the width of the image. I'd still watch it in widescreen, since that is the way the shots were actually planned, and the extra at top and bottom might alter the composition. (I found it a bit annoying tohave to select widescreen or full;screen format every time i played the film.)
Sound is impeccable (there is a THX Optimiser on the disc), and, in addition to the regular track and the commentary track, there is a third track of nothjing but sound effects. (I would have liked another track or two -- say, one with commentary by Goodman and Crystal and other voice actors, and another with nothing but the music cues, maybe, but what there is is excellent.)
The commentary, by director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich and executive producers John Lassiter and Andrew Stanton covers a lot of odds and ends, including explaining places in the film where they had originally planned to something differently and why they changed it, explaining some of the tricky bits of the animation and some of the problems they encountered and had to solve during production -- standard enough stuff for such a commentary, but interesting.
Here's the good stuff.
More than i can describe, actually, though certainly i have to mention the two short films -- "Mike's New Car", created especially for this release, and "For the Birds", an absolutely hilarious short wich won the "Animated Short Film" Oscar for 2001, and richly deserved it. One has the impression that its makers had carefully watched and absorbed every single Roadrunner cartoon.
There are "Outtakes", which are hilarious, even funnier than the outtakes at the end of a Jackie Chan film, which lead into the Monsters Inc employee play.
The main part of the disc is divided between "Humans Only" and "Monsters Only" segments:
Under "Humans Only", there are multiple sections:
One about Pixar, itself.
"Story", about how the film's story developed, compared to the form it finally took, with storyboards and "Banished Concepts".
A "Monster File" with cast, concepts and a piece on "What Makes a Great Monster?".
A "Design" section (which includes a "Guide to 'In' Jokes")
An "Animation" section, which walks us through the entire animation process, as well as showing "Early Tests" and "Hard Parts" and finishes with a "Production Demonstration", in which the viewer can switch on the fly between several views of the production process from storyboards to finished scene (using the "Angle" button on their remote).
There is a "Music & Sound" section, which includes commentary on the sound design process and a demonstration of bunaural recording (have headphones handy). I could have wished for a segment here on Randy Newman, his music for the film, and how he works with the Pixar people to produce such perfect music... well, maybe next time.
And, finally, a section on the film's original release, including a visit to thepremiere, trailers and TV spots, and samples of things that had to be changed for other-language versions (there is, for instance, one sequence which had to be completely changed, because it involved a bit of pantomime which visually punned on an English-only word sound) and then gives us a really neet clip in which the action plays smoothly along with the soundtrack switching languages every few seconds.
The "Monsters Only" menu gives us a few things:
"New Monster Adventures", which includes "Mike's New Car" , a music video and material featuring "Monsters Inc" characters created for a Japanese TV program (I haven't watched this section yet, i believe it's an interactive game), and two interactive games created for this disc.
"Behind the Screams" is a section representing primarily the "Outtakes" and the "Company Play", also found on Disc One.
And, finally, "Orientation" is your welcome as a new employee of Monsters Inc.
I understand that this disc has some enhanced features for use in a computer DVD ROM drive, but i haven't experimented with that yet.
All in all, this is a Very Classy Package; well worth the price just for the film, and containing simply an incredible array of Good Stuff as well.
You Should Buy It.