Monster House (Blu-ray)
B Sound: B Extras: B- Feature: B-
a sub-cycle of Horror/Comedy meant to appeal to younger audiences, seen in
books and only occasionally on film, video and TV. Robert Zemeckis’ Monster House (2006) is his second feature to be released in REAL
D's digital 3D format and in the motion capture technology already familiar to
those who have seen Zemeckis’ The Polar
Express (reviewed on HD-DVD elsewhere on this site) since its 2004
release. To repeat, it is motion capture
technology on real people and except for artists who add backgrounds and
objects later, it is like a digital version of rotoscoping where their bodies
are captured by placing digital signifiers which are then run by the computer
to get the final result you see on screen.
was scarier than the G rating would have let parents know, but this time, we
have a PG rating as three children named DJ (Mitchel Musso), Chowder (Sam
Lerner), and Jenny (Spencer Locke) find out that they live across the street
from an empty house that is alive and even eats all trespassers! Their babysitter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) does not
believe them, and we know the police are not, so that leaves them alone with
the evil truth.
course, this is meant to be fun and includes the kind of mall-safe gags we have
been getting form Zemeckis and co-producer Steven Spielberg since the 1980s,
but it is also a slight improvement over Polar
Express as a semi-animated work and general storyline. With that said, it too is still worth a look,
around Halloween or otherwise. Unfortunately,
it does not go anywhere new in its 91 minutes; the computer animation is still
limited and memory-challenged. Steve
Buscemi, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard and Kathleen
Turner also supply voices.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is still a bit on the soft side because
of the all-digital system used, but does not have the “misty Christmas” style so
off-setting from Polar Express. Color is still somewhat limited by the
digital palette and detail is still mixed.
Still, the motion sensor tracking system that puts dozens of patches on
each figure to track movement makes for a unique visual result and it will be
interesting to see the further changes that happen with this system as more
features are produced. They first two
have been moderate hits theatrically that have done well on video, so their
will be more.
16bit/48kHz 5.1 mix is better than the Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes with the usual tricky
sounds and solid sound envelopment typical of Zemeckis’ live-action work. Being a 25GB Blu-ray, there is no room for DTS
HD or Dolby True HD tracks, but this was good enough that I could imagine there
is more sound here to be heard. Douglas
Pipes score is a throwback to 1980s silly/dippy music with its exaggerated
Horror-as-humor moments. The use of bass
is pretty good too.
include an art stills gallery in three sections covering the initial designs,
feature length audio commentary by several of the filmmakers involved, seven
featurettes and an Evolution Of A Scene
focusing on a human vs. house scene made to typify what the feature delivers
best. That is not a bad set of extras
considering the limited space on this Blu-ray disc, but it does not affect the
performance in playback of the main feature.
Since it is stylized like its predecessor, the makers have some
leeway. Overall, this is a good disc.
- Nicholas Sheffo