Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett
Extras: Commentary track, Trivia Track, Video Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Games, Music Videos, Sing-alongs

The latest film to come out of Dreamworks' animation studios is "Monsters Vs. Aliens, " a wonderful romp that not only has a lot of potential, but also makes a great candidate for a stellar high definition presentation. Clearly, we had to check out this film in its Blu-Ray Disc incarnation.

On her wedding day, Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is struck down by a meteorite. With everyone in shock over the horrible disaster, she somehow survived the incident, but within moments it becomes clear that she has changed. Before everyone's eyes, Susan grows to a height of 50 feet. Unable to properly control her new oversized proportions, she lays waste and destroys everything around her and immediately the government seizes her and whisks her away to a secret research facility.

There, given the new name "Ginormica," Susan learns that she is not the only creature at the facility with some kind of problem. She meets B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a spineless, gelatinous creature with little more on its mind than eating. There is Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), a genius of a scientist whose experiment went haywire and turned him into an insect. The Missing Link (Will Arnett) is another inhabitant of the facility, an amphibious creature, as is Insectosaurous, a giant space larva.

While the government studies these "monsters" under the care of General Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), suddenly an alien attack shakes the world. Soon it becomes evident that there is only one way to stop the alien invasion of Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) and his clones – unleash the "Monsters" upon them, and soon the social misfits become the headliners and stars of a new campaign to save the Earth.

Borrowing from some of the most charming horror and science fiction classics, such as "The Blob," "The Creature From the Black Lagoon," "Godzilla," "The Fly," The Invisible Man" and "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" to name just a few, the movie is immediately weaving its way into viewers' hearts with its delectable references. While that may have worn off fairly quickly, the filmmakers made sure to keep the audience engaged by throwing in a lot humor – and I mean boatloads of it. "Monsters vs. Aliens" is probably one of the funniest films I have seen in a long time and I found myself laughing out loud and chuckling almost constantly. Clearly, the filmmakers understood how to blur the lines between spoof, parody and comedy, by making this film effortlessly play one thing at one time and switch to another within a single scene. Fresh, funny, fast and high spirited, "Monsters vs Aliens" is really a true family film that caters to all age groups.

Arriving in a pristine 1080p high definition transfer, it is hard not to fall in love with the movie. The amazingly rich colors leap off the screen in every frame, making it an otherworldly pleasure to watch, while the level of detail and the quality of the animation produces an image that is razor sharp and filled with visual eye candy throughout. "Monsters vs Aliens" is a showcase disc, inside out, that will wow everyone coming to your home and seeing this for the first time.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD audio track is included in the release, making sure the audio presentation is every bit as impressive. Reproducing the original uncompressed master track from the film, get ready for some bombastic sound effects and a wide sound stage that will throw you in another world. Spiced up with the great voice acting and wonderful music, the audio will take you to a different place.

While the feature film itself is not presented in 3D – though it was in theaters – the new short film "B.O.B.'s Big Break" that is included on the release, is. Using the traditional color-filter method, I found the effect less than enjoyable, though, mostly because of the horrid discoloration of the image that results from the use of these red/green glasses.

The disc is jammed with bonus materials, including a Commentary Track by the directors and a Trivia Track full of little tidbits. A picture-in-picture video commentary track is also included called "The Animators' Corner" which gives you a close look at the processes that an animated film like this goes through. You will see storyboard, animatics, pre-renderings, models, wireframes and all the other stuff that is required to bring a film like this to life.

Three deleted scenes are also on the disc, as well as a making-of featurette called "Modern Monster Making." Another featurette on the disc is "Tech of MVA" showing also the tools of the trade for modern day digital animators and the challenges they face.

A Video Jukebox gives you access to music videos from other Dreamworks Animations movies, and the "Karaoke Music Party" contains three sing-along tracks for your enjoyment.

A Paddle Ball Game rounds out the disc.

"Monsters vs. Aliens" was much, much better than I had expected. In fact, I had a great time with the film and I have to admit that I begin to like Dreamworks' recent animated films — not a big fan of the Shrek movies, though – ever since they seem to have gotten over their constant Disney-slamming. This release offers a very cool, high definition presentation that is flawless, as well as a balanced set of extras. More importantly, this film is very funny and enjoyable, so make sure to check it out!