Monsters vs. Aliens appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. From start to finish, the flick looked amazing.
Sharpness seemed immaculate. Not a single slightly soft shot emerged in this tight, precise image. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I witnessed no edge haloes or artifacts. Print flaws also failed to appear.
Colors delighted. The movie mixed a variety of palette choices; from warm and sunny to chilly and desaturated, we found a good variety of tones, and the flick always made them look dynamic and full. Blacks came across as dark and dense, while shadows appeared smooth and clear. I felt totally satisfied with this terrific presentation.
Though not quite as good, the film’s Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack also worked very well. With all the movie’s action, the mix gave us many active moments and lots of impressive sequences. Flying elements zoomed around the room, and other components – like battle material – made strong use of the various channels. These all combined to form a well-integrated soundscape.
Audio quality was top-notch. Speech appeared distinctive and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music seemed robust and rich, while effects gave us clean, accurate information; bass response also appeared deep and taut. Everything here worked well to create an “A-“ soundtrack.
As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman and producer Lisa Stewart. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at animation and character design, cast and performances, deleted concepts/sequences, music and connected domains.
While the commentary provides occasional nuggets of value, much of it seems bland and forgettable. We get a fair amount of joking around but not a lot of substance. The track does improve as it goes, but it remains less than engaging overall.
In the same vein, we find The Animators’ Corner. A staple of DreamWorks Blu-rays, this mixes animatics and storyreels, concept art, behind the scenes footage, and interviews. We hear from Vernon, Letterman, Stewart, executive producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, stereoscopic supervisor Phil McNally, editor Joyce Arrastia, head of layout Damon O’Beirne, co-producer Jill Hopper Desmarchelier, production designer David James, art director Michael Isaak, and actors Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Seth Rogen, and Stephen Colbert. (The “Corner” includes other participants, but since it names none of them, I couldn’t list their identities.)
We get notes about shooting 3D, cast and crew, characters and performances, creature, set and visual design, action and animation, audio, and related areas. Past “Corners” have tended to deliver little more than “expanded” versions of the audio commentaries, and this one does occasionally revert to material from that track.
However, those instances occur infrequently, so most of the information comes from separate interviews. These add a lot of good material and help broaden our understanding of the filmmaking processes. Add in the art and behind the scenes footage and “Corner” offers a useful look at the production.
We can watch the movie with or without a trivia track. It gives us factoids about cast and crew, the production, story and characters, and background for different components. The trivia pops up often enough to keep us with it, and it offers some fun tidbits.
Under Monstrous 3D Fun, two components appear – both of which make use of the 3D glasses included in the package. A new short called BOB’s Big Break runs 13 minutes, 19 seconds and lets us see a 1968 attempt by the monsters to escape their prison.
“Break” brings back the original cast, which adds quality. The short itself proves to be pretty amusing and entertaining.
A game called Paddle Ball echoes the feature film’s most blatant 3D gag. You must use the paddle to “disrupt” transmissions that threaten the monsters. The game seems lame for the most part.
The 3D effects for both “Break” and “Paddle Ball” work pretty well, but the red/green glasses are a drag. I forgot how ugly those made visuals – and how much eye strain they caused.
Within Out-Of-This-World 2D Fun, we get two more elements. “BOB’s Big Break” reappears in more eye-pleasing 2D form, and we also find Karaoke Music Party. This gives us three separate song performances by Ginormica (2:04), BOB (1:46) and Dr. Cockroach and the Missing Link (1:42). This becomes a weird addition but it offers mild fun.
Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of five minutes, 29 seconds. We get “Monger’s Plan” (2:55), “War Room Turns on Monsters” (1:49), and “If You Don’t Know” (0:45). These can be entertaining but don’t offer anything particularly memorable.
Two featurettes follow. Modern Monster Movie-Making lasts 17 minutes, 28 seconds and includes Katzenberg, Letterman, Vernon, Stewart, McNally, O’Beirne, Witherspoon, Arnett, Laurie, Sutherland, Desmarchelier, James, Wilson, Colbert, Rogen and Isaak. “Monster” looks at 3D usage, cast, characters and performances, visual design and creating San Francisco, and animation. Some of this info came up elsewhere, but “Monster” presents a good overview.
Tech of MvA runs six minutes, 19 seconds and features Katzenberg, Vernon, Letterman, O’Beirne, Desmarchelier, Chief Technology Officer Ed Leonard, research and development FX manager Ron Henderson, FX developer Scott Cegielski, Head of Digital Operations Derek Chan, and visual effects supervisor Ken Bielenberg. “Tech” focuses on animation, 3D and computer areas. Like “Monster”, some of this becomes a bit redundant, but we still find some interesting notes – though the program features a little more product placement than I’d like.
With the DreamWorks Animation Jukebox, we see/hear songs from Shrek, Bee Movie, Flushed Away, Over the Hedge, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda. All of this feels like glorified advertising to me.
At least one Easter Egg appears here. If you press “Do Not Press”, you’ll find a bunch of ads for other DreamWorks products. Yawn!
A second disc offers a DVD copy of Aliens. It includes the commentary, the two featurettes, the deleted scenes and the “Jukebox”.
As much as I like the ideas behind Monsters vs. Aliens, the movie itself leaves me curiously cold. I think it musters passable entertainment but it lacks much charm or excitement. The Blu-ray brings us excellent visuals and audio as well as a mostly informative batch of bonus materials. The movie had potential but ended up lackluster.