Monster House (Blu-ray) (2006)
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Gil Kenan (Director) et al.
Featurette-Making Of-Evolution of A Scene: Eliza Vs. Nebbercracker
Trailer-Open Season; RV; Zoom
Multiple Angles-Eliza Vs. Nebbercracker Scene
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Gil Kenan|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/24 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, soft drinks.|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
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 the first animated features to utilise motion capture (or performance capture) for the majority of the performances, others including 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.
My review of the standard definition disc can be read here.
I was pretty impressed with the SD release when I reviewed it a few months ago. This Blu-ray transfer is marginally superior, and displays some nice textures in the animation. When I attended the Blu-ray Disc launch in Sydney last month, a lot of animated titles were on display, titles such as Open Season and Cars, which looked really fantastic at the time. Monster House is a very different style of animation, softer, more textured than others. In a North American press release, Sony Pictures made a point of revealing that although the Monster House transfer is directly digital, the film makers had digitally introduced a synthetic film grain to the image, for stylistic effect. This explains the look of the transfer, and why it doesn't represent the detail of some other animated titles.
This film has been transferred in 1080p resolution, at the film's original theatrical aspect of 2.40:1.
The image shows a lot of beautiful textures and detail in the animation, such as DJ's jumper at 12:18. These details are barely visible in the SD disc I have on hand.
The daytime scenes are awash with an amber glow, forcing an autumn-like appearance in the palette. I didn't note any rendering inconsistencies or colour issues at all.
MPEG2 compression has been applied, with no issues to report. The image is completely free of any pixelization or noise. Because this is a direct to digital transfer, there are no film artefacts to be concerned about.
An English subtitle stream is available, among a cross section of other languages, including an English subtitle stream for the hard of hearing. The white text roughly follows the pace of the dialogue and is easy to read. There are some Americanisms present in the text, such as realize. The Audio Commentary is also subtitled in English.
The disc is a single layered, BD-25 format. The feature is split into 28 scenes.
There are seven soundtracks to choose from. The film's original English language is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (default) and also a very nice 48KHz PCM 5.1 option. 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 other three soundtracks are foreign language dubs that all seem to do a good job with sync and characterisation (check out the Hungarian Nebbercracker, it's a classic). I viewed the film with PCM audio and sampled the English Dolby Digital 5.1 during key scenes.
The English dialogue was captured on stage, along with the motion. The spoken word is always distinct and easy to hear despite active effects and score. Audio sync appears to be perfect.
I was rather impressed with the mix on the SD disc, but this uncompressed soundtrack blows it out of the water! Effects are crystal clear and the score is very involving. Surround channels are active consistently with dedicated effects, such as the loud flames at 10:40, or the swinging pipes 58:00. Character voices are also panned around the soundstage appropriately, for example, the scream at 21:50 and the very surprising rear-channel voices at 31:38.
The descriptive audio (stereo only) uses a British female voice, which is pretty easy to listen to. The English Dolby Digital default is a little lower in volume than the PCM, and barely compares to the depth and channel separation found in the uncompressed option. If you're capable of processing the PCM audio, it's a must.
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. This is an area where the PCM audio really shines through.
|Surround Channel Use|
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 provides interesting listening and gives good insight into the production.
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.
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.
The entire scene is shown here, with six alternate viewing angles.
There are fifty-nine fantastic conceptual paintings, many of which are from scenes that were later deleted.
More conceptual drawings of the various characters and photos of their corresponding clay models.
Assorted artwork of the various backgrounds that were used, as well as photographs of the strange wire props.
Trailers are included for the films Open Season, RV, and Zoom. All are presented in 1080p resolution.
The video transfer is excellent.
The audio transfer is brilliant.
The extras are brief, but insightful.
|DVD||Panasonic DMP BD-10, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo 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 Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|