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October 26, 2009
Monsters Vs Aliens Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
2/4/200930/9/2009ParamountRob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1PGReese Witherspoon

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All the monsters together.

For Paramount and Dreamworks Monsters Vs Aliens was a massive gamble. With a budget of $US175 million it is certainly one of the most expensive animated movies of all time, and even ranks quite high of all movies. For comparison Shrek The Third cost $US160 million, Ice Age 3 cost $US90 million and Up cost the same as this movie, $US175 million. It's clear that CG movies aren't budget releases, so the returns need to be good. Fortunately for Paramount and Dreamworks the gamble paid off with Monsters Vs Aliens taking an impressive $US379 million around the globe, and much more expected to be taken via DVD/Blu-Ray rentals and purchases. So what's this movie about anyway? Is it suitable for children? Read on...

When Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is unexpectedly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall and is instantly labeled a Monster named Ginormica. The military jumps into action, and she is captured and held in a secret government compound filled with other monsters like herself. This ragtag group consists of the brilliant but insect-headed Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie); the macho half-Ape-half-fish The Missing Link (Will Arnett); the gelatinous and indestructible B.O.B. (Seth Rogen); and the 350-foot grub called Insectosaurus. Their confinement time is cut short however, when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and the motley crew of Monsters is called into action to save the world from imminent destruction.

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Susan and Derek about to get married.
While ultimately a kids movie there are also plenty of moments that older movie goers will notice and get a chuckle out of. The President trying to play a tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and then his follow-up song, the "Code Nimoy" when an alien object crashes to earth, the president giving the Vulcan salute, consequences of mentioning Area 51, and so on. That's not to say that youngsters won't enjoy this movie too. The monsters, and aliens, are no more scary then those in Monsters, Inc. and the storyline is pretty straight forward so don't expect any complicated, or confusing, plot twists.

The voice acting in Monsters Vs Aliens is impressive with actors such as Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd and Renée Zellweger all lending their voices to characters in this movie. Reese Witherspoon is brilliant as the lead character Susan/Ginormica as she brings such a charm and likability to the characters. Stealing the show though is Seth Rogen as B.O.B. - the brainless blue blob character. His dopey, drugged-out, laugh suits the character perfectly and he has plenty of one-liners to keep you amused.

We must point out that while this movie is only presented on Blu-Ray in 2D (the theatrical version could be viewed in 3D at select theatres) this is still a very entertaining movie. It's actually a little disappointing that both versions aren't included, and this is made even more so given that the Blu-Ray disc includes a 13 minute short film in 3D so the red/green glasses are already included in the bundle.

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Susan (Reece Witherspoon) as Ginormica!
All-in-all Monsters Vs Aliens is an uncomplicated CG movie with some good voice acting, and some entertaining moments. Kids will love it, and the filmmakers have done well to include some humour for older moviegoers too (we don't mean it contains sexual content, but rather that there are plenty of references to older movies).

Presented in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 Monsters Vs Aliens is an absolutely pristine, gorgeous transfer. Coming directly from a digital source the movie is free of absolutely any film artifacts, and the colouring, which is often very bright and colourful, is exactly as the filmmakers intended. On a technical level this AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer is free from compression artifacts, and runs at a very solid 25-33Mbps for the most part, but does fluctuate as the scenes require.

If you want a reference disc to sell the Blu-Ray format then there is no reason why you should go past this disc. It's simply gorgeous from start to finish.

The primary audio track on this disc is an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (24-bit/48Khz). It really is a sensational mix with plenty of use of surround sound channels which will blow you away on occasion. With plenty of action sequences there are some great effects-laden moments which sound very impressive while the music from composer Henry Jackman suits the tone of the movie quite well indeed. Of course the voiceovers are key in any animated movie, and the variety and clarity of the characters talking is no cause for concern. If I was to make one extremely small nitpick it's that I would have hoped by now that more Blu-Rays were encoded in 7.1 audio, but given that so few could benefit from that upgrade it's understandable to put the extra bits elsewhere on the disc.

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Seth Rogen steals the show voicing B.O.B .
This Blu-Ray disc is loaded with other audio tracks including English Descriptive Audio, Danish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. Subtitles are provided in all those languages and sampling the English track demonstrated good pacing, and accuracy to the dialogue on screen.

I was fairly impressed with the extras on this disc with Paramount providing a decent bunch for youngsters, and older movie goers. Most impressively all the extras are in HD.

Filmmakers Commentary: producer Lisa Stuart and directors Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon participate in this rather interesting audio commentary which covers much of the production of the movie. It's fairly fast paced and there are quite a few details about the production, although it never gets too technical.

The Animators Corner: Now this was really a highlight for me as the animators provide a commentary in a PIP window, as well as video clips from recording the voiceovers, storyboards, pre-vis sequences and early animatics are also shown. There's also discussion about making the movie in 3D and what impact that had on production. Fantastic stuff.

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Monsters Vs Aliens is very colourful.
Trivia Rack: Finally we have this pop-up trivia track. It's a little sparse, but some fun little factoids are provided.

B.O.B.'s Big Break in 3D (13:19/HD): A fun little movie in 3D (4 sets of glasses are provided in this Blu-Ray set) which see three of the monsters trying to escape the facility. Quite entertaining.

Paddle Ball (HD): In 3D, but only for the background this is a pretty lame game in our opinion and not a Breakout clone as we thought.

B.O.B.'s Big Break in 2D (13:19/HD): Yep, this is the same short movie as above but in 2D this time so you can put your glasses down.

Karaoke Party (5:32/HD): Several characters from the movie sing some songs "I Will Survive", "More Then A Woman" and "Born To Be Wild". With the words at the bottom you can sing along too!

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Saying hello to the parents.
Deleted Scenes (5:26/HD): Three deleted scenes are presented here with voiceovers and storyboard form and some rough animatic backgrounds occasionally.

Modern Monster Movie-Making (17:28/HD): A interesting featurette which looks at the making of this movie in 3D, recording the voice actors, and even acting out the part of Ginormica.

Tech of MVA (6:19/HD): A short featurette about the technology (HP and Intel) that was use for making this movie.

Dreamworks Jukebox (10:24/HD): Songs from Shrek, Flushed Away, Over The Hedge, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and Bee Movie.

Monsters Vs Aliens is a very entertaining with plenty of humour geared for both adults and children. The audio and visual transfer is superb and there are quite a few decent extras too. Another fantastic release from Paramount.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.