Sunday 4 November 2012

Monsters, Inc. 3D Review - See it With Your Own Eye!

*This review assumes you’ve seen Monsters, Inc. – if not, it contains spoilers.*

The latest Hollywood craze is 3D re-releases. Re-releases are nothing new, Walt Disney would frequently re-release his films – largely to recoup productions costs for films in production – but as 3D has become more and more a fixture in cinemas, studios increasingly opt to re-release their expansive libraries with an extra dimension. Titanic, Star Wars and The Lion King are just some of the big-name films to undergo this redubbing, with plans to release films like Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 3D too. Fans don’t mind, not so much because they like 3D as because they love seeing these classic films back on the big screen. Of course, it’s always a benefit when the 3D is good as well.

Pixar have proven themselves all for the 3D movement, having re-released Toy Story 1 and 2, as well as Finding Nemo, and this (and having finished the 3D re-render on Ratatouille). Pixar’s stereoscopic 3D team, led by Bob Whitehill, clearly have a respect for the medium, pulling it up from its gimmicky roots – although they can often border on too subtle. Finding Nemo 3D went on to receive great acclaim for its natural and striking 3D, but it still hasn’t been released over here yet (it’s due in March). So, I was very eager to check out Monsters, Inc. 3D: to see how good the 3D was, and, more importantly, to see one of the all-time great animated films back up on the big screen.

Sufficed to say, the film doesn’t disappoint. I won’t harp on, because I can say nothing that hasn’t been said a hundred times of Monsters, Inc.: it’s wonderful, the animation is bright and full of life, the characters and story are magnificently original, and the chemistry between the voice actors is unparalleled. The crux is, then, that Pixar had a 10/10 film going in, so the onus was on them – not to put too fine a point on it – not to mess it up. But, because this is Pixar we’re talking about, there was no such problem.

With Finding Nemo, you can easily see why Pixar wanted to give it the 3D treatment; it’s one of those films that’s just perfect for 3D. However, with Monsters, Inc., I struggled a bit to see why – the realist in me said that it was a tactical move, made to get money out of cinema goers; the believer in me, though, said that if Pixar were doing this at all, then they must see a reason. And within 10 minutes of Monsters, Inc. 3D, you see one too. I’m not a huge supporter of 3D, but only because it’s so rarely used well, Avatar and The Adventures of Tintin were two examples where, for me, the 3D was actually useful to the film, fortunately, it’s used very well here.

The 3D – maybe not as inherent or natural as in Nemo 3D – accentuates the film and the story, it really does add an extra dimension. It seems to deepen the world, you see more, you take in more, you feel more. Case in point for me was the first real shot of Monstropolis, after Mike and Sulley’s first scene, where the two monsters are walking down the street: the world all of a sudden is 3D; it’s tangible, it’s real – more so than before. The streets seem to expand towards you, the buildings in the distance become more striking, and Mike and Sulley saunter through this heightened-realistic world. It’s phenomenal.

The 3D adds a real sense of danger and gravitas to the last half hour or so of the film as well; it made Mr. Waternoose seem genuinely scary. The bit where the villainous boss of Monsters, Inc. is clawing at the door, trying to rip his way through, bears more of a resemblance to the terror of Mor’du in Brave, than the slightly sinister, but comic, edge he seemed to possess originally. You can feel him clawing towards you, can see his intensity – not something I’ve ever experienced with the character before. The door scene is just as awesome as you can imagine it would be in 3D. It’s one thing watching it on Blu Ray, and feeling a little awestruck at the scale of it all, but it’s quite another to feel like you’re in that environment. It might just be me, but it felt like, the further into the scene we went, the more pronounced the 3D became, so it felt like the world was all around you. And, again, it added a real sense of danger, with Mike and Sulley jumping and dangling from door to door – enhanced by Randy Newman’s classic score – where, even if you’ve seen the film as many times as I have, you’re still on the edge of your seat. The wonderful opening credits also really popped in 3D.

Don’t get me wrong, the conversion isn’t perfect (are conversions ever?) and there were places were the 3D effects were non-existent or felt a touch too subtle, but these were outweighed by the thrill of seeing the film on the big screen, and the usually impressive, immersive and surprisingly effective 3D. It’s one of the better 3D conversions I’ve seen, miles ahead of the lacklustre stereoscopic treatment of The Phantom Menace, and even better than The Lion King 3D’s solid effects. Computer animation seems to be the perfect medium for 3D re-releases.

Also praiseworthy was the great 3D version of the film’s accompanying short, For the Birds, which precedes the film. Removed from the recent delicacy of La Luna, this is comic Pixar shorts at their best, and the 3D really heightens that. The 3D effects here, though much shorter-lived, were on par with Monsters, Inc.’s in terms of how impressive they were.

This is the perfect time for a 3D re-release of Monsters, Inc., given that the film was released (in 2D) eleven years ago this past Friday, and that the highly anticipated prequel, Monsters University, is released next summer. The film’s sure to make a killing this holiday season, with little other animated competition, and I would definitely advise you to go see it.

To say Monsters, Inc. 3D adds to Monsters, Inc. sounds axiomatic, but it adds more than just 3D effects. Those effects change your perspective subtly, you’ll notice things you never did before, you’ll marvel more at backgrounds or camera shots, and you’ll feel brand new sensations. So, for this, for seeing Pete Docter’s classic in cinemas again, and for the fantastic cinematic experience (added to by For the Birds) Monsters, Inc. 3D is every bit worthy of the original, 2D, film’s reputation.

Monsters, Inc. 3D is released in the US on 19th December and in the UK on 18th January.

Movie: 10/10
3D: 9/10


Thanks to Grace Yee at Disney UK for the invite to the screening - I could be wrong, but I think this is the first Monsters, Inc. 3D review on the Internet, which is pretty damn cool! You can order Monsters, Inc. in HD, on Blu Ray, by clicking below.


  1. Congratulations on being the first review on the internet William!
    I think you said it all in your second paragraph, I'm just thrilled to see this comedic masterpiece back in front of me on the big screen. Finding Nemo 3D has been on of my favorite 3D film experiences of all time, up there with Tin Tin ,Madagascar 3 and Up so I know i have a lot to look forward to and you answered some questions i had. Thanks.
    Also... just a heads up... watch Wreck-it-Ralph in 3D, the sets look good enough to eat!

    1. For some reason, Nemo 3D hits here after Monsters, Inc. 3D - not until March! But I can't wait to check it out. Yeah, Tintin and Avatar are the only times 3D's ever felt integral for me.

      And I will do! Thanks for the heads up, and your kind words.