Monster House (2006)

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Released 15-Jan-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Gil Kenan (Director) et al.
Featurette-Making Of-(7)
DVD-ROM Extras-Weblinks
Gallery-(3)
Trailer-Click; Open Season; RV; Zathura; Final Fantasy 7
Trailer-The Benchwarmers
Featurette-Making Of-Evolution of A Scene: Eliza Vs. Nebbercracker
Multiple Angles-Eliza Vs. Nebbercracker Scene
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 85:54 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Gil Kenan
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Mitchel Musso
Sam Lerner
Spencer Locke
Steve Buscemi
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Jason Lee
Case ?
RPI $32.95 Music Douglas Pipes
Steven Severin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Portuguese
Hindi
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Spanish for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, soft drinks.
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It's almost Halloween, and young DJ (Mitchel Musso) has other things on his mind. Sure, for a kid of DJ's age it should be girls or Nintendo, but this is something serious. For days he has been watching the house across the street, owned by the ghastly local cranky-man, Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi). DJ has kept a log of the activities there; verbal abuse at passing children, toys and bicycles confiscated, all for coming within a few steps of the dilapidated house. His parents don't take his concerns seriously, and are more concerned about their night away, enlisting a careless teenage babysitter, Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal), to keep order while they are gone. Things take a turn for the bizarre when Nebbercracker is carted away in an ambulance, presumed dead, and the house takes on a life of it's own. With the help of his friends Chowder (Sam Lerner) and Jenny (Spencer Locke), DJ must stop the Monster House's (Kathleen Turner) rampage before hundreds of trick-or-treating children are lured to it's door.

    Monster House is one of several new animated features to utilise motion capture (or performance capture) for the majority of the performances; others include such films as Polar Express. While the CG imagery is sharp and stylish, what makes this tale so amazing is the quality of the performances. The facial expressions and body language of the characters are especially realistic.

    Director Gil Kenan fell into the industry straight out of film school, having won an award for his student film, The Lark. Producer Robert Zemeckis (Back to The Future) was impressed with Kenan's conceptual art for Monster House and hired him to direct the feature.

    This is fantastic entertainment for the whole family, highly recommended. However, it may be a little too scary for the little ones. My four-year-old spent many scenes crouching behind my back in the fetal position, which isn't a good sign. Still, she asked to see it again straight away, so she can't have been that traumatised.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer has been sourced from a digital master, not film. This is about as good a transfer as we can expect from standard definition DVD, so there are virtually no issues to report. A 3-D version played in some digital theaters. We won't be likely to find this 3D version on disc anytime soon, as the polarising effect utilises new technology and cannot be replicated on home theater equipment.

    The film has been transferred to DVD in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This is relatively close to the film's original 2.35:1 presentation.

    The image is very sharp and looks particularly impressive on a big screen. Although many scenes are set in the evening, there is plenty of detail visible at all times and the image never becomes obscured by darkness. Colour rendering is bold and consistent, without a hint of bleeding or oversaturation. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    MPEG compression artefacting is nowhere to be seen. Film artefacts are not an issue, obviously.

    An English subtitle stream is available, among a cross section of other languages. The white text follows the pace of the dialogue closely and is easy to read.

    The disc is DVD9 formatted, with the layer transition placed during the feature at 56:40. The pause is placed at a relatively still moment mid-scene and may be mildly distracting to some.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are six soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, three of which are alternate dubbed languages. The default soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 5.1, encoded at 384Kb/s. An English (UK) Descriptive Audio soundtrack is a welcome addition, and an audio commentary featuring the director is accessible via the extras menu only.

    The English dialogue was captured at the motion capture stage, along with the actor's movement. The dialogue quality is excellent, and is never overpowered by effects or score. Audio sync appears to be perfect.

    This is a fantastic surround experience! The rear channels are used for everything, from subtle atmospherics to dedicated panning of effects and vocal performances. It's certainly one of the most immersive and involving soundtracks I've experienced in a while. My only gripe is, of course, the bit rate. 448Kb/s would serve the depth of the effects much better in my opinion.

    The score by Douglas Pipes suits the tension of the film very well. The score flows with the film's emotional highs and lows and doesn't draw too much attention to itself.

    The subwoofer (LFE channel) is used often to build tension, augment thundering effects and add solid bottom end to the score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu pages are animated and include audio from the feature. The main menu is preceded by studio logos and anti-piracy propaganda. All of the extra material is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary- Gil Kenan (Director) et al.

    There are quite a few voices that appear here, however, Gil is the only one who bothers to introduce himself. They sound like they were recorded individually, as there is absolutely no interaction between them. Gil explains how he came to accept the directing job and offers some of his thoughts on the artistic aspect of the production, as well as his working relationship with the composer of the score. Deleted scenes are also discussed, but many never passed the storyboarding stage. This interesting listening, and gives good insight into the production.

Featurettes- Behind The Scenes- Inside Monster House (7)

    There are seven small featurettes, delving into many aspects of the production, from casting to complicated motion capture jargon. These are playable individually or via a handy play all function.

Featurette- Evolution of A Scene: Eliza Vs. Nebbercracker (2:50)

    The film's opening scene is dissected, showing each stage of the production process, from storyboarding to motion capture, then basic animation and finally the finished, rendered product.

Multi-Angle Featurette- Eliza Vs. Nebbercracker (2:42)

    The entire scene is shown here, with six alternate viewing angles.

  1. Story Reel Animatic
  2. Performance Capture
  3. Layout Stage
  4. Animation
  5. Final Film
  6. A composite of all five angles.

Gallery- Conceptual Art (59)

    There are fifty-nine fantastic conceptual paintings, many of which are from scenes that were later deleted.

Gallery- People (67)

    More conceptual drawings of the various characters and photos of their corresponding clay models.

Gallery- Places and Things (38)

    Assorted artwork of the various backgrounds that were used, as well as photographs of the strange wire props.

Trailers

    Trailers are included for the films Click, RV, Zathura, Open Season, Final Fantasy 7 and The Benchwarmers.

DVD-Rom Features

    A simple weblink to the site www.visitmonsterhouse.com and other studio promotional propaganda. The links promise 'exciting games, downloads & activities'.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc omits many of the audio options in favor of English and French only. The extra features are the same, so our local product would make a good purchase.

    A Blu-ray version of this film exists in Region B (Australia & UK).

Summary

    Monster House is fantastic family entertainment, and a superb DVD.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is brilliant.

    The extras are short, but worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, January 19, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Not bad demo material but not another Nemo/Shrek etc... -
no 3d version - REPLY POSTED
Aussie blu ray also exists -