Monsters vs Aliens (2009)

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Released 30-Sep-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-The Tech of MVA
Deleted Scenes
Music Video-Various Dreamworks Animation Songs
Trailer
Audio Commentary-Directors and Producer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 90:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (44:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Studio
Distributor
Dreamworks
Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Reese Witherspoon
Seth Rogen
Hugh Laurie
Will Arnett
Kiefer Sutherland
Rainn Wilson
Stephen Colbert
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Henry Jackman
Joyce Arrastia
Eric Dapkewicz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English AV Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Moments before she is about to stroll down the aisle and marry the local TV weatherman (voiced by Paul Rudd), Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is struck by a meteor from outer space. Moments later, as she prepares to make her vows, she begins to grow uncontrollably to ten times her original height and many times her original strength. The US military, led by General W.R. Monger (voced by Jack Bauer, or Keifer Sutherland as he was once known), are quick to capture her and lock her away in the country's top secret prison for monsters - renaming her Gigantica in the process. Not that Susan/Gigantica has done anything wrong - that's just what you do with monsters. At least until aliens attack.

    When aliens invade the planet, looking for the very meteorite that caused Susan to grow to epic proportions, General W.R. Monger convinces the president (voiced by Stephen Colbert) to let his monsters out to defend the planet. Susan and her fellow inmates happily band together to stop the robotic alien invasion in exchange for their freedom once the invasion is over.

    Those fellow inmates include:

    Monsters Vs Aliens is a lot of fun. This family flick pays good-humoured homage to a huge number of sci-fi, horror and comedy classics, though genre knowledge is inessential to enjoy the movie. Most of the film's nods to the classics are done in such a way to keep kids amused by the vibe of the film whilst cracking a knowing grin in adults. The film has a good sense of humour about it and maintains a steady pace to its laughs. The voice cast is top notch (save for the awkward overdubbing of Sunrise cult leader anchor David Koch onto one minor character).

    Visually, the film is stunning. It features a stylish cartoon look that complements the tone of the film. Its use of colour is glorious. A few scenes feature some odd perspective effects, obviously designed for the theatrical 3D projection of the film (an option sadly lacking from this very 2D presentation), that look a bit awkward in 2D though these bits are more likely to have viewers wishing for a 3D version than complaining about how they look in 2D.

    Whilst the writing is fairly solid and the story structure works well, the story itself is painfully formulaic and inoffensive. Every one of the core characters are great, but many of the ancillary characters are anything but. The President character, in particular, misses the mark by a long shot. He tries far too hard for laughs and it undermines every scene he is featured in. As bad as these faults sound, the good vastly covers up the bad in Monsters Vs Aliens. The movie is well worth a look, even repeat viewings, so long as recent Dreamworks classics like Kung Fu Panda and Over the Hedge have not got your expectations too high.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Monsters vs Aliens looks stunning. The image is clear and sharp. The video features excellent shadow depth. The colours on display literally push the DVD format to its limit, particularly the gorgeous pans through outer space. Very mild color banding can be noticed in some of the more dazzling scenes - though you aren't likely to see better without upgrading to blu-ray. The only thing anyone is likely to lament here is the lack of 3D.

    The video is free of compression artefact and film artefacts.

    English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available for the feature. Based on the portion I sampled, they appear to be accurate and well timed.

    This is a RSDL disc with a layer change occuring seamlessly between scenes at 44:49.

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

Audio

    The film features an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio track and an English descriptive audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) track.

    The audio is clear and crisp. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, although the lip sync is a little wobbly (though the rest of the audio is in perfect sync) - particularly the awkwardly regionalised insertion of David Koch as a new anchor in the film.

    The film makes great use of the surrounds with general environmental audio as well as a lot of well-directioned foreground noise. The subwoofer gets a reasonable workout from the audio track, mainly from the many bangs and clangs in the film.

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

Extras

Modern Monster Movie Making Featurette

    A generic making-of featurette that briefly touches on just about all the facets of production. There's a good deal of time spent addressing the concerns of making a 3D movie, which will likely make a lot of viewers wish they had their hands on a 3D version of the film.

The Tech of MVA Featurette

    A rather interesting look at the technical tools and tricks employed by and developed for the movie. Even more so that the main making-of featurette, there's a big focus on the 3D tech used by the filmmakers in this featurette, which is likely to make viewers lament the lack of 3D on the DVD. This featurette is pitched in such a way as to appeal to technically minded viewers as well the less technically minded, although it certainly won't answer all the questions tech-heads are likely to have.

Audio Commentary

    Directors Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon along with Producer Lisa Stewart provide a decent commentary that strikes a good balance between the technical side of things and pithy production trivia. Well worth a listen for commentary fans.

Deleted Scenes

    Three deleted/extended scenes presented primarily as storyboards with voice over, although one contains basic animation. Amusing, but completely disposable stuff.

Dreamworks Video Jukebox Music Videos

    A selection of individual music videos for each of Dreamworks Animations properties, including Over The Hedge, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Flushed Away, Madagascar. Each runs one to two minutes and makes for a good time-waster for the kids, although I dare say some of these could drive parents mad!

Do Not Press This Button Easter Egg

    It is possible to navigate upwards on the main menu to a button marked "do not press", which offes a handful of trailers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The film's initial R4 release sees it bundled with an additional, seperately packaged DVD named B.O.B.'s Big Break, which includes a titular 3D short starring the characters of Monsters Vs Aliens as well as a handful of other extras. The Blu-ray edition includes the content of the extra disc on its single disc, as well as a PiP making-of track. The same packaging options are available in Region 1.

    The Region 1 edition of the film includes additional French and Spanish language tracks, but appears to miss out on the English descriptive audio. Otherwise the two versions appear to have the same content save for PAL/NTSC differences.

Summary

    Monsters Vs Aliens is a lot of fun, but fails to rise to the level of some of Dreamworks other recent animated fare.

    The technical presentation on the disc is excellent in both the audio and video departments, and the disc features a decent range of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Friday, November 06, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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