Monsters (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 13-Apr-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew-Exclusive Q & A at the Melbourne Premiere
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Cast & Crew Interviews
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-B - Roll
Theatrical Trailer-Monsters
Teaser Trailer-Madman Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 93:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gareth Edwards
Studio
Distributor
Vertigo Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Whitney Able
Scoot McNairy
Fernando Lara
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Jon Hopkins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Linear PCM 48/24 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Eailer this month, I reviewed the Madman DVD edition of Monsters. So, is the Blu-ray a marked inprovement and is the selection of extras any different? The following synopsis has been taken from my DVD review.

    With his debut feature, British filmmaker, Gareth Edwards has produced one of the most impressive independent films of 2010. Monsters is proof that the production of quality science fiction is possible without massive budgets and the involvement of major Hollywood studios.

    The best way to give a synopsis of Monsters is to start by relaying the words that open the film..."Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar-system. A space probe was launched to collect samples, but broke up during re-entry over Mexico. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and half the country was quarantined as an Infected Zone. Today, the Mexican & US military still struggle to contain "the creatures".

   After establishing the basic premise, the narrative then centres on an American photo journalist, Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) and a young female tourist, Samantha (Whitney Able), who just happens to be the daughter of Kaulder's employer. Kaulder is on assignment around the Infected Zone, when he is given the task of safely escorting his boss' daughter back home to America. When their train journey is stopped because of track damage, the pair decides to continue on by foot and travel through the dangerous, Infected Zone to reach the US border.

    The film has a principal cast of just two, with additional roles played by non-actors. While all the locations are real, most of the dialogue is improvised. The small cast and crew shot countless hours of footage, which was initially edited down to four and a half hours. Further edits brought the film down to its current running time of ninety minutes.

    Gareth Edwards talents as a filmmaker are literally on display in every frame of Monsters. He has five key credits in the film including, writer, director, cinematographer, production design and the all important, visual effects. With a very small budget and limited resources, this film manages to sustain a high degree of authenticity, which often lacks in many bigger productions.

    The visual effects in Monsters were all produced in post-production, using commercially available software. Many of the locations were especially selected and filmed to accommodate these visual effects. In post, Edwards digitally transformed anything of use including, road signs and menu boards into maps and warning signs. He composed each frame with the intention of later adding, deleting or changing something in post-production. As previously mentioned, the end result is really quite an achievement. For me personally though, the only visual let down were the alien creatures themselves. I would have preferred something a little more sinister and aggressive - but that's only my opinion.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 1080i. More information can be found here.

    Monsters is presented on Blu-ray in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The Blu-ray has been encoded using MPEG-4 AVC compression and is presented in 1080p.

    Obviously the Blu-ray transfer is an improvement over the DVD, but it's certainly not a chalk and cheese comparison. For the most part, the image exhibited a nice degree of clarity and sharpness. Blacks were clean, with minimal grain and shadows held excellent detail.

    In direct comparison, the Blu-ray delivers a more vivid and vibrant colour range over the DVD. This was far more apparent.

    The Blu-ray exhibited some blocking at 45:59, which continued spasmodically for around 14 seconds. My first thought was that this was a compression artefact. But each time I back tracked, it seemed to behave slightly different. Sampling the same scene on another Blu-ray player gave different results again. At first, the second player had no problem with the scene. But then on re-sampling, I noted a couple of brief pauses. The second player however, did not exhibit any of the blocking. Aside from this issue, film-to-video artefacts were negligible and film artefacts were non-existent.

    English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available on this disc. The subtitles are in bold white and are quite accurate.

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

Audio

    There is one audio track available on the Blu-ray, English LPCM 48/24 5.1

    I had no problems with the dialogue quality and audio sync appeared to be accurate.

    The original music score by Jon Hopkins enhances the general eerie ambience of the film really well.

    The surround channels were mostly active early and then late in the film. The mix is quite sensible and isn't overstated at all. Likewise, the subwoofer was only noticed during the more dramatic scenes. The fidelity of the Blu-ray clearly out strips the DVD.

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

Extras

    

Menu

    Unfortunately, this Blu-ray edition offers nothing new in terms of extras from the DVD.

Featurette - Exclusive Q&A at the Melbourne Premiere (27:12)

    As the titles suggests, this was filmed at the Melbourne premiere of Monsters on 9th November 2010. Following the screening, Gareth Edwards discusses many aspects of the film with the audience.

Interviews - Cast & Crew

  • Gareth Edwards (Writer/Director/DOP/Visual Effects) (15:39)
  • James Richardson & Allan Nibld (Producers) (14:00)
  • Whitney Able (Actor) (9:58)
  • Scoot McNairy (Actor) (8:06)

    B-Roll - Behind-the-scenes footage (8:11)

        A brief collection of behind-the-scenes footage. Interesting, but really too short to be of much value.

    Theatrical Trailer - Monsters (1:28)

    Madman Trailers

  • Sauna 
  • Lake Mungo 

    R4 vs R1

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

        The most relevent Blu-ray comparison to this Madman release is the UK, Blu-ray edition from Momentum. This edition is way ahead in term of extras. The Momentum release features...

  • Commentary by Gareth Edwards, Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy
  • Behind the Scenes of Monsters - Documentary (55 mins, 1080i)
  • Monsters in the Edit - Featurette (24 mins, 1080i)
  • Monsters VFX - Featurette (29 mins, 1080i)
  • Factory Farmed - Short Film (5 mins)
  • Introduction to Factory Farmed by Gareth Edwards

    Summary

          
       With its small budget and limited resources, Monsters is really quite an achievement. The film sustains an eerie atmosphere throughout and for the most part, it looks amazing. Monsters proves that the production of quality science fiction is possible without massive budgets and the involvement of major Hollywood studios.

        Apart from the aforementioned blocking issue, the video and audio transfers are both excellent.

        While these extras do offer some good insight into the production, they offer nothing new from the DVD edition.

     

     

  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Wednesday, July 06, 2011
    Review Equipment
    DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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