In 2001, the proposition of Monsters, Inc. must have been a scary one for Disney / Pixar.
Coming fresh off the success of Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and the original Toy Story (all directed by Pixar King John Lasseter)Pixar put an unproven director in the driver’s seat for Monsters, Inc. – Pete Docter.
Of course, time would prove that Docter’s madcap vision of a world inhabited by monsters who collect the screams of human children to power their communities proved to be a smash hit. But it’s interesting to learn about the behind-the-scenes hand wringing that occurred at Pixar before the release of the film.
One of the bonus features of the movie is a film makers round table with Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, producer Darla Anderson, and script supervisor Bob Peterson (who also lent his voice to the surly clerical worker Roz in the movie). In their round table, they discuss not only their uncertainty over the somewhat complex idea of a world powered by screams, but also the real-life intrusions that threatened the success of the film.
For example, I had completely forgotten how Monsters, Inc. had come out one short month after the terrible events of 9/11. An even that lead Pixar to wonder if they should push the film back. Ultimately, according to the feedback they received, the film became a refuge for families looking to steer themselves away from the unending and horrible coverage of that day. The insight that the round table provides certainly adds a layer of enjoyment to hard-core fans of the film.
Eight years after its theatrical release Monsters, Inc. holds up incredibly well and the Blu-ray transfer gives the film a candy-coated shot in the arm. Colors are richer, details are more pronounced. Even the hair on Sully’s arms looks more refined. A more perfect version of the film I can’t imagine unless you were sitting in Pixar’s offices, watching it over the shoulder of one of the animators.
In terms of extras, the Blu-ray doesn’t bring much that’s new to the table. A short documentary about a Monsters, Inc. ride at Disneyland Toyko made me want to hop a flight to Japan immediately and an interactive game featuring over 100 doors intimidates more than it inspires gameplay.
Additional features include those already packaged on the Collector’s Edition that was released in 2002. The animated shorts “Mike’s New Car” and “For the Birds”, storyboards, a database of monsters featured in the film, and multiple gag reels.
However, the Blu-ray package gives you a bevy of formats including a digital copy of the film as well as a DVD copy of the film, which are nice bonuses.
As a Pixar fan, I have no problem replacing all of my DVD copies with Blu-ray editions of the film. I believe they are the most authentic reproductions of the movies possible and a visual treat. However, it would have been nice to see a few more extras with the film and I probably wouldn’t have minded waiting another 2 years for a 10th anniversary edition if it meant getting additional content.