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Review: Monsters, Inc. 296

Yes ladies and gentleman Pixar is back with its latest full length computer animated film, Monsters, Inc. And I braved crappiest theater in all of holland to see it opening night. My review follows, and although I've tried hard not to give any spoilers, I'll give away a few things that hopefully won't hurt anything for you. But the short review is that I liked it, but if you've read enough of my reviews, you know that I love eye candy kids movies, so be warned.

Before I get to the review, I want to mention that I saw this at the crappy theater in holland. The sound system is super assy, and the screen is kinda small. I've seen many movies here, but the Holland 7 always kinda taints a movie for me just because the theater is dirty and the sights and sounds aren't to par with a state of the art theater. Also our showing was led off by the Star Wars Episode II trailer (which wasn't really very interesting) and a Pixar short. I love shorts before films. I wish that this was standard practice. All movies. At least, all comedies anyway, should start off with a short. And this one was hilarious.

Since this is a computer animated film, I'm gonna start by talking a little about the CG. I don't feel like Monsters Inc has hugely advanced the state of the art for computer animated graphics with this film. There are however exceptions: especially in James, John Goodman's character. They hair system they used on the gigantic blue-with-purple-spots monster is simply stunning. There are some scenes where I simply couldn't take my eye off of it. Also the finale which takes place in a gigantic room with a roller coaster like system of children's closet doors whizzing through the air is absolutely a site to behold.

There are other exceptins too, but really what Monsters, Inc. has done is taken the state of the art CG that pixar has perfected, and used it to tell a story. And I think that it might be awhile before a movie comes a long and is able to up the ante as much as Toy Story and Toy Story 2 did. I think this is much more akin to a Bug's Life, where they broke less new ground in the rendering techniques, and instead tried to do more with the characters.

The look of the film is simply stunning. The warm tones of past pixar movies have been chucked out the door for blues and purples and neon green. But when monsters pass into the human's world, you feel as if you might be back in Toy Story... but why would you want to when this world is so interesting? The centerpiece is the Monsters, Inc factory which has a look that is sorta like a factory with a bit of airport stirred in. But then all skewed. Thats where this movie has really taken off: previous Pixar efforts have all taken place in a relatively believable world (assuming that you believe bugs or toys can talk). They take place in a subset of our world. But MI takes place in what might be thought of as a parallel world with gateways (read:childrens closet doors) back to ours. So the artists were given a chance to truly create something unique.

Now I'm going to try to give you a brief summary of the plot without spoiling anything. The main characters are the blue and purple hairy James (John Goodman) and the little green one eyed Mike (Billy Crystal). The main enemy is a chameleon monster named Randall (Steve Buscemi). Other notable smaller parts are voiced by Frank Oz and John Ratzenberger.

Anyway, James and Mike work at Monsters, Inc. The factory is a power plant... but in Monstropolis, they don't use coal or natural gas. Rather they use the power generated by the screams of children. Using a complex system where doors open into Children's Closets, the monsters run in, get their scream, and the juice is collected. It's dangerous work because children are lethal to monsters. One touch, and a monster is dead! James is the best scarer of all time... until his rivalry with Randall goes wrong, and a little girl (nicknamed 'Boo') accidentally comes back to Monstropolis.

The bulk of the show then revolves around Mike and James dealing with this tiny (and adorable) "Monster" that they have accidentally been stuck with. While trying to get her home, protect her from the Bad Guys, and unraveling the secret plot, good times are had by all.

The voice acting is all fairly solid. And I'm not particularly fond of Billy Crystal any more. I was really worried that his baggage was going to carry over into the character and his lame humor would drag everything down. But they /almost/ never let that happen. And Goodman just has great charisma as a voice. What a lucky man. I'd kill to get to be a voice in a Disney or Pixar film, and he's already got a chance to do both! (To say nothing of practically having a guaranteed part in every Coen bros. movie. What a sweet gig!). But as you would expect, all the voice acting was top notch.

The score was excellent for the film. I'm not going to comment on the sound effects because (as I said above) I saw this film in a crappy theater so its just not fair for me to mention that the audio clipped a bit in places and the surround sound effects weren't very good. I purely blame my theater.

Worth noting is that this is the first Pixar film not directed by John Lasseter, and I think it shows. The pixar trademark of being family friendly, but just skewed enough to make it fun for adults is definitely strong here, but MI is a little edgier then its predecessors.

Pixar's deal with the devil (read:disney :) is almost at an end, and I'm really interested to see what they're going to do after they have free reign to create films on their own. But as long as they are producing films as solid is this one, I'll continue to show up to the theater on opening night. The eye candy. The humor. It's just a class act in an age where most movies have none. I still think TS2 is a better film, but you're not going to see many better all-ages movies this year. Unless of course Harry Potter is everything it could be...

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Review: Monsters, Inc.

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  • can be found at landoverbaptist.com.
  • WTF? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And I braved crappiest theater in all of holland to see it opening night.

    It thought english was the main language in Slashdot...

    • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Funny)

      by ShaggyZet ( 74769 )
      Holland, Michigan. Of course, it's almost Dutch. Tulips, windmills, large "van der" section in the phone book...

      You ain't much if you ain't Dutch.
      • >large "van der" section in the phone book...

        which makes it quite undutch, since "van der" is not used in the last name itself. a typical entry would be "Ven, van der". Also note the lack of capitalization (in the name, not the post). Now to get to the point.. I have none.

        //rdj
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 03, 2001 @02:39PM (#2516577)
    Shouldnt john katz be reviewing monsters inc and telling us how the monsters represent the post-colombine geekiness and solidarity against the microsoft behemoth?
  • But with the hair movement in this film, along with the works of final fantasy and others, they are getting pretty close to making this kind of thing... look like real life.

    Haven't seen it, how was the star wars trailer anyone?
    • The Star Wars trailer was really lacking. It didn't make me want to see it at all. Of course, i still will, but not because of the trailer. I hope upcoming trailers improve.

      The good news is, no sign of everyone's favorite character.
    • The scenes sitting outside of the cave with the wind howling had some seriously believable hair movement. I enjoyed the short before it too. Best time time i've had at the movies in quite a while.
    • Re:But with (Score:3, Interesting)

      by malducin ( 114457 )

      There have been many previous examples of CG hair in film and commercials, for photorealistic hair. Probably the best example was the remake of Mighty Joe Young, done by Dream Quest Images and ILM. Actually the guy that wrote the hair renderer for DQI, Rev Lebaredian, later made a product based on it called JIG, which has been used for many hair rendering related projects:

      JIG [steamboat-software.com]
      JIG hair gallery [steamboat-software.com]
      JIG credits [steamboat-software.com]

      Many other FX studios have created their own propietary solutions or used the something like the Curve primitive in Photorealistic RenderMan. Many early project include a commercial with bees by PDI, the Island of Dr. Moreau by Digital Domain, Jumanji by ILM and many others. Other ones include Episode 1 which have many examples of hairy creatures. There has even been CG hair applied to real persons, like in What Lies Beneath.

      Early CG hair (1995) [pennnet.com]
      FX for Jumanji (1996) [pennnet.com]
      Articles on Might Joe Young [vfxpro.com]
      Hair in Mighty Joe Young [pennnet.com]

      Though of course Pixar did an amazing job with Sulley's hair for this film. They actually made a presentation this past SIGGRAPH at the FX R&D course. You could probably also get some onfo by looking through archives of the RenderMan newsgroup.

  • Really nice. Thank you Pixar :)

    Why is everybody saying Pixar=Steve Jobs ?
    Pixar is John Lasseter, that's all.
    He's an artist, and I love all that he has done,
    from the very beginning.

    I think one of the first 3D computer rendered image that Pixar made and got used in a movie was in "Young Sherlock Holmes", but I am not sure about this...

    By the way, if you like short animation movies you can also
    go to Aardman [aardman.com], and enjoy some movies from the makers of Chicken Run !


  • I wonder if Taco got to see it. I went to the Revere Showcase Cinemas in Revere, Mass, and they DIDN'T PLAY IT!!

    I was quite angry, because as well as going to see Monsters Inc, I was looking forward to the 45 seconds of joy at the beginning of the film. I talked to the most horrible and bitchy manager at the end of the show, who gave me a spiel about how it "didn't arrive yet"... which is BS, because (correct me if I'm wrong) the trailer was attached to the Monsters Inc prints, and theaters were instructed that if they cut it out they would be heavilly fined and possibly not allowed to show Episode II.

    Can anyone add to this with similar experiences, or ways to report this theater, or if I am totally wrong and just bitter, and there was some horrible mishap that actually removed the teaser from the print?

    Thanks,
    Luke (Yeah, that's my real name... any jokes that I haven't heard in my lifetime are welcome)
    • That's okay, the trailer sucked anyway. It was 45 seconds of Darth-vader like breathing with brief, meaningless 2-second clips; no dialogue, no music, nothing. The clips were generic, and didn't really excite me.
    • Hmmm... yea I was at Cleveland Circle (Brookline or Brighton) last night chilling with my friends... I'm pretty sure Monsters, Inc. wasn't playing. Ofcourse I'm not a big fan of cartoons late at night so I wasn't looking for it.


      I saw them selling Shrek on VHS at CVS though!
    • You don't generally get previews attached to a print. They arrive as separate reels and can be mixed and matched as desired. If previews were actually part of the movie, it would be difficult for projectionists to insert the theater chain's traditional "turn off your cell phone/enjoy our concessions stand" spiel right before the movie itself.

      Since the movie came from Disney's distributors and the teaser came from Fox, I think it's feasible that one came but the other didn't, especially if Lucas was still touching it up at deadline.
      • Re:Star Wars Teaser? (Score:4, Informative)

        by acl993 ( 466340 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:15PM (#2516656)
        You don't generally get previews attached to a print. They arrive as separate reels and can be mixed and matched as desired. If previews were actually part of the movie, it would be difficult for projectionists to insert the theater chain's traditional "turn off your cell phone/enjoy our concessions stand" spiel right before the movie itself.

        You are right that trailers usually come separate from the film itself, but I believe that in this case Lucas decided that he really liked MI and Pixar, and created the special teaser trailer just for the film. I haven't actully seen MI reel, but I believe the Star Wars trailer actually came on the MI reel 1.

        If a theater wanted to put their instructional trailer in, they could splice it in. It's really not much extra work, since a film comes in several reels (probably 5 for MI) and most theaters splice the whole thing together into one long piece of film to show it. In doing so they have to take the header and footer off of each reel and then splice the end of one reel to the beginning of the next.

        I don't remember if the theater I saw MI in usually adds instructional trailers, but there wasn't one for MI last night, and they did show the Star Wars trailer.
    • I could see how it was attached to the print. The typical bad theater animation couldn't be played with this film, because it went directly from SW: Attack of the Clones trailer to the Pixar short, then the film. (It is normally played after the previews just before the film.) The manager was feeding you a line.
    • In Colorado we had at least twenty minutues of previews- probably of fantasy films to appear in the next months. They began with the UA "America, the Beautiful" video, then showed Harry Potter, Ice Age, a long Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. And a humorous Pixar short about mean birdies who get their due.
  • ... when are games going to look this good? What year do I set on the time machine to pick up a Geforce 9 TiMXSe 69000 Pro Ultra Crazy?

    Even better, think of the applications for user-controlled pr0n =)
  • Taco says... (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by ras_b ( 193300 )
    "I love eye candy kids"

    okay, so he said "kids movies". Talk about taking a quote out of context.
  • Notice how each child (well, their door at least) had a national ID card?

    What is disney trying to say now to their audience?

    Yeah, I'm paranoid, who told you?

    • What I noticed is that the Primary Key for the door was only a 6 digit number. Then later you see millions of doors. Umm... Something ain't right there. I'm seeing a max limit of 999,999 doors, as there were no Alpha-Numeric door codes...

      • Six digits would give you a max of 1,000,000 combinations (don't forget 000,000)
      • by pryan ( 169593 )
        Wait, wait, wait. So, let me get this straight... You're criticizing the key-card scheme, but ignoring magic doors where you can step through alternate dimensions simply by having a wooden door?

        Of course, the movie doesn't explain how they got the doors in the first place, or whether there are doors that go to other parts of the monster world. Please, it's just a movie, and a movie for kids at that.
        • I disagree. We're perfectly right to criticize the keycard scheme. In speculative fiction, there is a crucial difference between things that make sense but are outside current technology (e.g. warp drive, magic doors) and things that are blatantly self-contradictory. The former is necessary to any fantasy; the latter shatters the suspension of disbelief and is a narrative fallacy.

          For example, the keycard scheme, and the magical alien-killing virus in Independence Day were self-contradictory. Even with all the magic in the world it's mathematically illogical to have millions of numbers with 6 digits. And the virus in Independence Day contradicted a basic premise of the film: that it took place in our 1990s Earth, with our computers. Our computers are clearly incapable of communicating with alien systems, let alone infecting them, so that part of a film resulted in a logical contradiction. Which is why everyone found it so painful.

          However, the magic doors are perfectly reasonable and make sense, if you accept as a basic premise of the film that

          • It's not taking place in our universe, so the rules can be different
          • In the film's universe, one of the basic rules is the existence of magic doors leading to other dimensions
          Temporarily accepting these new laws of nature is what is known as suspension of disbelief. So the magic doors are only bothersome to the overly literal-minded, who are unable to step out into another universe for a moment; these are the people that hate all SF, accusing it of being "unrealistic". But the keycard numbers are annoying to everyone, because any universe conceivable by humans must follow the laws of logic; they are a premise that cannot be eliminated.
          • Even with all the magic in the world it's mathematically illogical to have millions of numbers with 6 digits.


            Silly slashbots, you are assuming monsters (who have varying number of fingers on their hands, or in some cases no hands at all) would use a base 10 number system.

  • you're not going to see many better all-ages movies this year. Unless of course Harry Potter is everything it could be...

    ummm...LOTR?
  • Some funny, some CG, a little music... fairly middle of the road if you ask me. Yet this film will make a heap of money, not because it is brilliant (which it, unfortunatly, is not) but because it fits the needs of the demographic it is intended for: Parents who like to watch cartoons.

    Disney knows who it's paying demographic is and this film (more than most in the past) seems to show that if you are a boomer or an early X'er with a family your money is safe with MickeySoft. I mean, I kind of noticed this before (Toy Story 2) but it was never this glaringly apparent before, and it scares me.

    Granted, most films are not "high art" (or even close to it, usually) but is the easily found "lowest common denominator" fuel going to power the Pixar machine forever?
    • I saw the movie and really enjoyed it. I think Disney may feel they really can't afford to take too many really big chances with Pixar movies; they are REALLY expensive to produce, and take an awfully long time to perfect.

      I saw a preview for some cheezy Fox CG movie coming out soon (can't remember the name) and it reminded me just of how much of a risk Disney & Pixar *do* take compared to their competitors. The CG wasn't even in the same league of the CG in MI. Kids may not notice this; Parents will.

      ....

      I thought MI was a really topical film; did anyone else notice the Rolling Blackouts headline on the newspaper (obviously a recent addition to the film), or the parallels with Anthrax investigations (when "decontaminating" clothes & buildings from children)? I derived a really useful moral from the story--things are never really as scary or as bad as they might seem. Yeah, this sounds simplistic but it's a nice dose of comfort these days. :)

      • That film is Ice Age, and it being done by Blue Sky Studios which Fox bought a few years ago along with VIFX (which they later sold to Rhythm and Hues). Blues Sky Studios have even won an Oscar for best animated short, "Bunny", just like Pixar did and they are CG veterans, founded in 1987 (one year after Pixar), though many of the principals are veterans from other facilities. They also are a mostly propietary software house just like Pixar and PDI. Besides doing commercials and animated shorts they have also done tons of FX for movies including Joe's Apartment, the CG aliens in Alien Resurrection and the penguin in Fight Club. They are in the same league as Pixar and PDI and I wouldn't discount them. Tghey seems to be going for a more classic cartoony feeling, like the old Warner Bros or tex Avery cartoons. personally I can't wait to see it. At SIGGRAPH Blue Sky had the short first teaser during the Electronic Theatre and I can tell you it was a success.

        Blue Sky Studios [blueskystudios.com]
        Bunny site [blueskystudios.com]
      • .. what can be attributed to stupidity. (OK, so sue me if I paraphrase).

        I thought MI was a really topical film; did anyone else notice the Rolling Blackouts headline on the newspaper (obviously a recent addition to the film), or the parallels with Anthrax investigations (when "decontaminating" clothes & buildings from children)?


        I think you're reading far too much into things here. Keeping in mind that most of the entire plot would make no sense if it WASN'T for the Monsters' energy crisis, and their insane fear of 'our' world... well, these 2 items that you mentioned were pretty obviously included from the start. They may have embellished a bit due to recent events, but keep in mind that these types of movies can take years to make. You certainly don't re-write major plot points only a month before release.

    • by Jerf ( 17166 )
      Granted, most films are not "high art" (or even close to it, usually) but is the easily found "lowest common denominator" fuel going to power the Pixar machine forever?

      IMHO, this is not a valid complaint. If the "lowerst common denominator" fuel is so "easy" to find, then how come Monsters, Inc. is the first film in a long time to pull it off without me, a rather sensitive person, ever feeling insulted, cheated, or ripped off?

      The movie deserves more credit then to be dismissed as "lowest common denominator". I mean, come on! "Scary Movie", now that's LCD. This ain't no "Scary Movie", it's a lot better.

      Exactly what did you expect, in a movie meant to at least be accessible by children? Angst? Dark imagery? Excessive ambiguity you interpret at subtlety, and pat yourself on the back for finding? Validation/challenging of your world view?

      I've seen a lot of LCD crap. Monsters, Inc. is not it.

      (By far the worst statements of this kind I've seen come from this Salon review [salon.com], where the reviewer spends two page bitching about the movie he would rather have made, and the changes he would have made, which would have utterly destroyed the movie (and left it something else entirely), rather then actually reviewing the movie.)

      • The "LCD" is neither easy to pinpoint, nor particularly easy to cater to; it takes lots of science. But it takes no art. The basic thesis of the Salon reviewer is that the basic concept of MI is a dark one, and he complains that it's potential for dark humor is not fulfilled.

        I think that's a valid complaint. All the Pixar/Disney collabs hit the same sunshiney note incessantly.

        Humorous nightmares can be rendered for children successfully, IMO; the Salon reviewer cites Nightmare Before Christmas; I would strongly recommend the Cartoon Network's Invader Zim to anyone who wants to see some truly ill, and hilarious, kid tv.

        I can't picture Pixar/Disney doing a Zim or a Nightmare. Seeing as Disney distributed the Burton film, I don't suppose it's entirely Disney. Tin Toy, a Pixar short, also examined the "child as monster" theme, and it came off as a bit more dark than MI seems to be, but it's still pretty "bright." I wonder whether it may just be a limitation in John Lasseter's directorial style, but the work coming out of Pixar, from the first short to the present feature, seems to be pretty monotone.

  • by Runin ( 203341 )
    I saw this last night in our town's newest theatre, and they were showing it on the biggest screen with the best sound system. The audio for this film is just plain awesome! Everything was crisp and clear, and the entire theatre shook whenever Goodman roared. If you can manage it its definitely worth seeing in a theatre with a good sound system.
    --
    phill
  • Billy Crystal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 1of9 ( 107254 )
    Whats wrong with BC? Is it something I missed? Which is very possible since I don't pay much attention to hollywood stuff. But I have always like billy. just my $0.00002
  • Looking Inside Pixar (Score:4, Informative)

    by Angry Black Man ( 533969 ) <vverysmartman@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:00PM (#2516627) Homepage
    Pixar's style is a lot different than what we've seen in other full-CG movies including Final Fantasy: TSW and even Shrek. So how do they do? What kind of process to these guys follow? At Pixar, there are four key stages to making a movie. They start with development, move on to creating the storyline (they don't just make the graphics). First, a text treatment (short document summarizing the main idea of the story) is written. Then the storyboards are drawn the old fashion way. Pixar begins to scout for voice actors and then get them into the studio to get some recording done. The editorial staff then begins making reels. If you aren't familiar with reels they are basically videotapes with cleaned up storyboard sequences on them. Finally, the art process begins. The art department at Pixar begins illustrating the world and the characters. They also design sets, props, and visual looks for surfaces and colors. These are reviewed and then the 3D process begins. The models are sculpted and articulated (not sure if this is done on SGI OCTANE workstations, but I do know that the actual rendering and animation is done on them). After the models are adequately designed, the sets are also built in 3d. Now they can begin adding models into the backgrounds and setting the stage according to storyboards. The shots are then animated and shaded and lighting is added. This is where Pixar's RENDERFARM is put to work. For a Bug's Life, 150 dual-processor Silicon Graphics OCTANE[tm] workstations and an Onyx2[tm] visual system were employed. [If anybody knows if the same were used in this, please respond.] After everything is rendered, sound and other final touches are added. Boom! There is your movie.
    • Update to that, I researched their rendering methods a bit more and found that Pixar uses their own 3D interface (created for the sole purpose of photorealistic rendering) called RenderMan. You might find it interesting that even though the styles seen in Final Fantasy and Pixar's movies are much different, they both used RenderMan for a majority of the rendering.
      • by malducin ( 114457 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @10:15PM (#2517679) Homepage

        This is a common confusion. RenderMan is a rendering interface a spec. Usually it's compared as the Postscript of 3D. You can implement a renderer that follows the RenderMan spec. Pixar's implementation is called Photorealistic RenderMan or PRMan for short. It uses the REYES (which stands for Renders Everything You Ever Saw)architecture for rendering (in gross termsZ buffer scanline renderer). Many people when they say RenderMan they actually mean PRMan. PRMan is sold by Pixar along with the RenderMan Artist Tools or RAT. But there exists many other implementations of the RenderMan spec, including BMRT, Entropy, RenderDotC, AQSIS, and AIR among others.

        But when Pixar got started there was barely any adequate off the shelf software, so like many others back then (like PDI, Blue Sky Studios, Abel and Associates, triple I, etc), they had to create their own tools. Actually you can see mention of it at the end of the movie: Marionette is their animation environment, previously referred to as menv.

        RenderMan Interface [pixar.com]
        Exluna (makers of BMRT and Entropy) [exluna.com]
        AQSIS [aqsis.com]
        RenderDotC [dotcsw.com]
        3DLight [3delight.com]
        AIR [sitexgraphics.com]
        RenderMan Repository [renderman.org]
    • Wired News: Monsters, Inc. Used Monster Tools [wired.com].

      Great article (although a little short) on the tools used to create the movie. Modelling is done on SGI workstations, but the final rendering is done on Sun hardware. If you watch the end credits of any Pixar movie, they tell you so.

      Boom! There is your movie.

      If you don't mind me asking, where do you get your information? You sure make it sound easy to make a full-length CG movie.

    • That info is from How We Do It" [pixar.com] on the Pixar web site.

      Pixar has this thing for procedural shaders, which is what RenderMan is all about. Most non-Pixar high end CG work is done by going out and photographing textures, then mapping them onto models which are then rendered by ray-tracing or radiosity. Pixar does most, if not all, of their textures procedurally. Textures are programmed in a C-like language.

      With texture maps, if you get too close, the texture has to be blown up over multiple pixels and blurred, an ugly effect very familar to gamers. Since Pixar's procedural shaders can be computed at arbitrarily close intervals, Pixar's materials remain clear in extreme close-ups. That's what gives Pixar work that hyper-clear look.

      It's tough to match procedural textures to the real world (although everbody now does water procedurally), which is why RenderMan isn't used much in work that has to match live action.

  • James and Mike? (Score:3, Informative)

    by PRickard ( 16563 ) <<pr> <at> <ms-bc.com>> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:00PM (#2516628) Homepage
    I haven't seen the movie yet (leaving to catch it in literally half an hour) but from what I've read I could have sworn the John Godman character's name was Sully, not James. Did I misread, or did Taco mishear the name repeatedly?

    Glad to see a movie review posted by someone other than JonKatz. Nothing wrong with Katz IMO, just when he posts you have to fight hundreds of anti-Katz submissions under it. Bleh.

  • Hands down a great overall movie. I'm a sucker for Animated Disney movies, I'll admit. Something to appreciate about the movie is that there really is something for every age in that movie.

    So Disney may be eating up the bucks on it, but you can't deny the quality here. The CG - I stopped noticing after about five minutes - in that it was done that well. The plot was pretty sharp, and built up well.

    And just like Toy Story, the humor is there, too (I personally thought Monsters was a crack up).

    That's my 2 cents.

    ALSO: TechTV is running a bit on the making of Monsters, Inc. I caught the second 1/2 hour last night, but check there website for more times - looked very cool.
  • lots of people see this and say the kids should look like real people.. this is annimation. why should they.. did the loony toons have people who looked real? what about the simpsons. yellow skin and blue hair.

    Final Fantasy was beautifully done, and looked real, but monsters inc. is meant to have a cartoony feel to it, and real looking people i think would just be out of place..
  • I've been spoiled by the past Pixar projects. I was really disappointed that there was no outtake reel at the end of the film.

    It was an excellent movie, not as funny as Shrek, but definatly a worth see. The animation was all there, especially the snow rendered on Sully's hair in Nepal. I was drooling on my lap.

    The little bird short at the beginning was f'ing HILARIOUS.

    Star Wars trailer, disappointing....
    • Re:No Outtakes (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clifyt ( 11768 )
      I didn't think they did the outtake reel until the movies been out for a few weeks and then want to draw the grownups back again...or at least thats what I understood from the last few.

      I never catch the big movies for the first two or three weeks anyways as I'm trying to catch the little indies that are going to be gone before the ink in the newspaper is dry :-(

      clif
  • The centerpiece is the Monsters, Inc factory which has a look that is sorta like a factory with a bit of airport stirred in. But then all skewed.


    Very descriptive, Taco. Sort of like an airport or a factory but all skewed, eh. Right. That really works to drive the image home. Yet once again have you applied your steady hand and unwavering eye commandingly to the razorsharp scythe that is your pen, burning with great precision this image unto my inner eye!



    Your writing is so lame, Taco. Also the dept's you use, always the same tired "gee-that's-nice", "well-isn't-that-special" claptrap.



    Just some criticism.

  • My thoughts... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by singularity ( 2031 ) <nowalmart AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:11PM (#2516649) Homepage Journal
    I waited until the 9:15 showing last night so as to avoid as many smaller kids in the theatre as possible.

    First off, the Episode II trailer was more of a "teaser." I liked having the only sound be Darth's breathing, but the clips seemed so short (5 seconds or less each?) that it was difficult to get any senese of the movie. In addition, I am not sure I am glad to see that Lucas decided to put the teaser before Monsters, Inc. I think it definitely says something about E.2.'s intended audience.

    Also, has anyone else noticed that we are getting more and more in front of movies these days? I went and saw K-Pax last weekend. 23 minutes of commercials and previews. Monsters was not as bad, but was still up over 17 minutes of previews. By the time the movie starts, I frequently have forgetten what I came to see.

    To the movie at hand: The bedrooms seemed almost straight out of Toy Story. A great scene is when you see the "scarers" (as opposed to the paperwork monsters) coming out of the light in slow-motion. It has been done in so many fighter-pilot movies, and worked really well here.

    The two janitors were highly annoying. They reminded me of characters from another movie/show that I cannot think of right now. They should have been dropped.

    The CGI was great. I am glad to see that Pixar is getting better and better at human beings (by far one of the more difficult things to realistically render). Boo looked halfway decent.

    For the sound: I am still waiting to see a movie that uses theatre digital surround to its full advantage well. What was interesting last night was that one of Goodman's roars was so loud that it shook the ceiling of the threatre, causing a vibration on top of the speakers.

    In all, it was a good movie. Toy Story and Shrek were still better, but I think that most kids and most CGI fans should see this one in the threatre. I would give it 2.5 stars out of 5.

    If only I could have talked my friend into seeing "The One" instead...

    • i saw both. i saw 'the one' at 7 and 'monsters inc' at 9.. the one was the biggest highlander ripoff i've ever seen. 'each time one of you is killed, his power is divided amongst the rest'. i tried to let it go, but at the end there was a 'there can be only one' line almost verbatim, and it was sad and disappointing.

      • i did the opposite yesterday in boston. i had time on early friday afternoon so i saw "monsters inc." and then immediately "the one." i believe i was the only one that laughed when i heard the line "there WILL be only one" near the end of the movie as if exchanging "will" for "can" will make it not a highlander ripoff. but, regardless, anyone can tell it's a highlander ripoff by the trailers and previews.
    • The two janitors were highly annoying. They reminded me of characters from another movie/show that I cannot think of right now. They should have been dropped.

      The two janitors were highly annoying. They reminded me of my cow-orkers from my last job. They (my cow-orkers) should have been dropped; the characters were perfect.

      And I believe I have seen the impossible...this review appears to have been written by Cmdr. Taco, but I didn't see a single spelling mistake. Who's the ghostwriter?

  • Trailers (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ted V ( 67691 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:14PM (#2516653) Homepage
    Even before my wife and I saw the movie, it was worth the price of admission. The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars trailers all looked excellent, and I'm looking forward to seeing each movie. Watching the trailers side-by-side really pointed out how different these movies are. They aren't competing with each other at all, even if they're all fantasy/sci-fi movies.

    Lord of the Rings is quite obviously (attemping to be) an epic fantasy movie. Epic is hard to pull off, but I believe Lord of the Rings will make it. Will it be as good as the books? No. Will there be times you're distracted by the special effects? Probably. But the source material of the movie is the very definition of Epic Fantasy, and if the director (Peter Jackson) has a devotion to stay true to the source, Lord of the Rings can't help but achieve its goal of successfully portraying the epic nature of Tolkien's books. The trailers quite clearly pitch it as a teenager/adult movie.

    Harry Potter is another fantasy oriented movie, but it's quite clearly just "Good Fun". This doesn't mean the movie doesn't have depth. In fact, J.K. Rowling gave each actor a complete background story for their characters (which she has in her head, but hasn't been published in any books). It tries to portray a child's wonder at and adventure in the world of magic. It's not striving for epic. It's a movie that could and will be enjoyed by the whole family.

    The Star Wars review had dark overtones, but was just shot after shot of breathtaking scenes packed with tension and action. It's a special effects, action movie. The plot might not be Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter, but it's still ten times the plot of any other action movie. The Star Wars story doesn't have much depth anymore. (Especially since George Lucas tried to rewrite Han Solo as a good character from the start, instead of learning to love things other than himself.) But Star Wars does have a *LOT* of breadth, and that comes across in the movie. Just seeing all the different cultures and planets is still very exciting.

    -Ted
    • Re:Trailers (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sidb ( 530400 )
      For the most part, the trailers on a movie are up to the discretion of some employee at the theater. Some movie prints come with one (or rarely two) trailers attached, which must be shown with that movie. Monsters came with the Star Wars teaser. Every other trailer spliced onto that movie came out of the theater's trailer cabinet and was selected on the basis of the tastes and sensibilities of whoever was in charge of assembling that movie for projection.

      Try this sometime: go to two different screens in the same theater that are showing the same movie (just stop into a second screen for the previews after seeing the movie the first time). Most likely, the trailers will differ even within the same movie theater, unless the film person is remarkably consistent.
  • So what about the Episode II trailer? Did they show it? Or was it just being released with the US version of Monsters, Inc?
  • by OblongPlatypus ( 233746 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:18PM (#2516664)
    Given the male/female ratio of the Slashdot audience, shouldn't that be "lady and gentlemen"?
  • by terp30000 ( 533997 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:22PM (#2516670)
    err, intelligent slashdotters can enjoy. Besides the animation and the obvious gags, the film touched on a number of themes, including:

    1. The absurdity of the children's mythology of monsters. The film turns this on its head by having the monsters believe (incorrectly) that a child's touch will kill them (You get this real early on; this is a very insignificant spoiler).

    2. The evils of big business, and how obvious smart solutions are both easier and usually ignored (Take THAT, MPAA).

    3. Usually, a children's movie like this has a hero who has to overcome some evil force, which the hero conquers with the help of the good guys. ...

    ****MINOR SPOILER WARNING****

    ...But in Monsters, Inc., all but the hero's closest friends, are unknowingly part of the evil force, and it is the hero's responsibility to find a moral solution to both his personal and the town's problems, and then persuade the company to stop its evil and behave morally.

    4. The possible negative effects of fame.

    I especially liked how the seemingly self-centered Mike didn't mind being obscured on TV or on the magazine; it showed his flaw was in his inferiority complex, not in his self-centeredness, and made the ending a solution to his inferiority complex.

    • I felt like this movie had a lot to do with parenting too. The most poignant moments in the film were Sulley's "parenting dilemmas": when boo was frightened of him for the first time, when he had to leave her for her own good, when he had to sacrifice his friendships and his career for her... these were key parts of the film.

      I suppose the moral question here is "am I really going to sacrifice ____ for my child?"

      -Erik
  • by dinotrac ( 18304 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:32PM (#2516689) Journal
    I gave Monster, Inc the acid test:

    Went with my wife, my 5 year old and my two year old.

    Each of us loved it, each of us found plenty to laugh at.

    What amazed me most was not the CG (though really good), the acting (though really good) or the writing (though really good).

    No, what amazed me most was watching my squirelly little two year old sitting on the edge of her seat with wide-open eyes glued to the screen.

    A personal favorite moment (that, fortunately, doesn't give anything away) was the scene showing the beginning of a scare shift at the MI factory. The "scarers" -- a very goofy looking group of monsters -- walk onto the floor in a group with the group, pausing for a second in a low-camera-angle kind of shot that makes you think of a million "here come the good guys" scenes. Almost guaranteed to make you grin.

    Good movie.
    Great fun.
    If you don't have a kid, consider borrowing one.
    • My wife and I took our kids (two boys, ages 9 and 4) to the matinee yesterday. They both enjoyed the film, though the 4yo was quite distressed when the door got shredded. He didn't see the doors as portals to the rooms, but as containing the rooms. Shred the container, and you shred the contents... Ouch! I had to spend a few minutes explaining it to him, and even then I don't think he got it until the very end. (Why aren't the preschools spending more time teaching kids about transdimensional physics?!?!)

      In general we all had a good time, though the consensus was that Toy Story 2 was more fun. We'll still end up getting MI when it hits DVD, though.

      "That not a kitty! That a monster!"

  • i dragged my girlfriend to go see Monsters, Inc. opening night down at one of the two DLP projectors (digital projector, no film, no shakes or bumps, ect, ect) and i have to say, walking past the life-size Sullivan (blue and purple monster) in the theater lobby, and then seeing him there on the big screen.... i had a hard time convincing myself of the fact that this was *not* real....especially in the closeups, where you can see every single individual hair moving, quite convincingly lifelike.


    this release from pixar says that "yes, it's cg, and no, smooth charicters aren't all we can do, when it comes down to details, we can pull off the good effects", especially in sullivan' hair, the pieces of the doors as they are shredded, ect ect. quite a bit of nicely done eye candy.
  • by cheezus ( 95036 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @03:51PM (#2516729) Homepage
    Good flick. Of course, they showed it at the crappy theatre in my town (on three screens tho) instead of the big theater with the big screens and the digital sound (sigh). Maybe there is some nationwide strategy that they aren't telling us


    Anyway, my girlfriend and I took her 10 year old sister, and we showed up at 6:15 to find a fairly long line already there to get tickets for the 7pm show. I haven't seen a line like that since Phantom Menace, so I'd guess Monsters is going to win the box office game this weekend.


    Monsters, Inc, and Harry Potter are the two movies I've been most excited about seeing (old enough to drink, but still into the kiddie films... go figure). I figured that since Monsters was backed by Disney and Harry Potter by AOL/TimeWarner, I wouldn't be seeing a trailer.


    WRONG!


    The new Harry Potter trailer played! It was pretty much the same one as before, but had some addition footage of quiddich and other eye candy that probably just recently got finished.


    Then, just after the theater had played their little "hey, we're Carmike cinema's and we have a lame 3D intro thing" thing, and I was beginning to think that the rumors were false, the LucasFilm logo popped up and did its shiny thing, and I was treated to some very hastily thrown together scences from AotC set to Darth Vader breathing. Got to see portman, the new anikan, yoda, some light sabers and some ships. Nothing special, but enough to remind me that I should be getting excited about seeing it this summer.



    Then there was the Pixar short, which was probably one of the best short cartoons that I have ever seen. The CGI wasn't so much impressive as the level of emotion that the characters had. I won't give any spoilers, but I will say that I enjoyed the short more than the movie itself


    And don't get me wrong, it was a good flick. However, it did play out like a chilren's cartoon. While there was some stuff for the adults, this was certainly no Shrek. It was still enjoyable, and the munchkin liked it.


    So um, yeah. Go to it. You won't be disappointed.

    • Yup, that short film had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. The expressions on the faces were just excellent. It was just about worth the price of admission all by itself.

      I also thought that the animation of Goodman's character was excellent. The little girl was very good too, though Billy Crystal's character didn't do much for me.

      Overall, well worth it.

    • Maybe there is some nationwide strategy that they aren't telling us

      Same thing here. I live in Hampton/ Newport News Virginia and the same thing happened. We have many local theaters, but none compare to the huge 24 Screen AMC theater. The AMC theater is so nice I almost refuse to go anywhere else.

      So where does Monsters Inc. open? Regal Cinemas. Uncomfortable seating, small screens and crappy sound. I hope they don't pull this with Attack of the Clones.

  • I found the CGI and montion of everything MUCH more beleivable in this then in Shrek. Seeing it in a good theatre the audio was spectacular. Not a clip in sight.

    Pixar really comes out with some incredible stuff. Folks need to remember that EVERY one of their movies has been good, they keep on hitting stuff on the head.

    They managed to sign a terrible deal with Disney but when that's over who knows what's going to happen, if Disney isn't nice about the sequel issue I imagine they will come back and hammer them into the dust.

    And a fun movie. Take a kid to see it and you'll realize how anything "edgier" would have been a total loss. I liked it a lot, and am a jaded college kid.
  • digital projection (Score:2, Interesting)

    by greysky ( 136732 )
    I was privileged enough to get to see this film at one of the few theatres equiped with a digital projection system. All I have to say is that my jaw never came off the floor. The picture was by far the crispest, clearest picture I've ever seen. Throughout the entire movie every single strand of hair on John Goodman's character was distinct and had it's own amount of bounce. By far the most technically impressive movie I've seen. I really think that if the picture hadn't been as clear it wouldn't have been as impressive.
  • Saw it last night... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cfinegan ( 528161 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:13PM (#2516764)

    Alright, I saw this movie last night and thought it was awesome! Some people have been saying that it wasn't groundbreaking or that it wasn't up to par with Toy Story, etc. Personally, I don't really care too much about that - I went into the movie looking for a few laughs and got much more than I expected.

    1) The voice acting was great. John Goodman's character (Sully) was hilarious. He had that gentle giant quality about him, due in large part to Goodman's voice presence. This is not to take anything away from Billy Crystal's and Steve Buschemi's characters, but Goodman really carried this film as far as personality.

    2) The animation was good. From a strictly technical point of view, the fur/hair systems were excellent, and the rest of the CG was right up to par with what I was expecting from Pixar. While it didn't really break new ground, I don't know that it really needed to. The graphics were good enough that I really didn't notice them after the first few minutes of the movie.

    3) There is some great cinematography in the movie. The door-riding roller coaster scene was absa-frickin-lutely crazy. I was actually tense watching them hang on and jump from door to door. Various other scenes in the movie make very effective, though less noticable, use of camera angles and colors and composition to give a great sense of feel to the scene.

    4) As was noted in another post, the movie touched on some ethical/moral issues in a very light-hearted, kid-accessible kind of way. That was nice to see.

    5) The animated short, 'For the Birds', at the beginning of the movie had me and my friends rolling. Pixar has a snippet of it up on their web site, but you really should see the whole thing. If you go see this movie, definitely get there in time for the previews. I would pay a couple bucks out of my ticket price just to see that short again. BTW, the snippet is here [pixar.com] on the Pixar site.

    Okay, this is getting rather lengthy, so let me stop while I'm ahead. Long story short, I would recommend this movie to anyone with a sense of humor, especially those with kids.

  • Ray Harryhausen (Score:3, Informative)

    by vanyel ( 28049 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @04:14PM (#2516767) Journal
    Fans of animation already know this, but Ray Harryhausen was one of the greats of animation. He brought stop motion animation to an entirely new level with movies like Jason and the Argonauts and 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

    Apparently only a couple of us in the theater last night got the reference that appears briefly in the movie, so I thought I'd mention it for those who haven't heard of him.
  • Animation Oscar (Score:2, Informative)

    by peter303 ( 12292 )
    Going to be pretty tough this year with Shrek and Monsters, and two decent entries Final Fantasy and Atlantis. In an average year I'd be happy to just have one of these.

    I'd give it to Shrek by a sliver. It had a little more interesting story, humor and computer graphics techniques. I also have a soft spot for musical numbers, a few which were in Shrek.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @07:02PM (#2517206)
    I could swear some things flashed by quickly
    during the initial factory walk-through scene
    and the street store-front scene that were jokes,
    or quick reference to Lucas or Disney works.
    I caught the produce names, but some of the wall
    posters went by so fast, that I'd have to wait for DVD stop motion.
  • Subtle bits (Score:3, Informative)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @07:28PM (#2517288) Homepage Journal
    I rather enjoyed watching for the subtle stuff that the animators included like the book titles, posters on the wall in the background and the Powerbook? ad on the back of a magazine cover. Its really quick so you miss it if you are not careful, but any more obvious and it would have been tacky.
  • Good Movie. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GISboy ( 533907 ) on Saturday November 03, 2001 @07:53PM (#2517362) Homepage
    "For the Birds" was funny...I liked the part with the larger "stork" bird hanging upside down by his toes as the 2 "instigators" were pecking at the stork's toes. The looks on the faces of 1 or 2 of the little birds that "see it coming" when/if the stork lets go of the wire.
    Heh, I've seen that look before...like when Flic knocks over the offering...the eyes get real big and the "OooHhhh, Noooo" escapes.
    (I found it funny because a recovery disk I used one time did its job *too* well...fdisked 2 drives in a heart beat....I said "ooohh, nooo" just like Flic did. Art imitates life, eh?)

    Monsters, Inc. was a very watchable movie and I do recommend it, but it was not as funny as I thought it was going to be.
    It was more of a "smirk and chuckle" than a "laugh hysterically" film.

    Billy Crystal's voice was a decent choice, but a less grating voice would have been better.
    Nathan Lane springs to mind (Timone, from the Lion King). BC and NL have the same vocal qualities, but Lane comes off smoother than Crystal, I think.

    The rendering of the characters was excellent and I kept looking for a "beauty shot" like in Shrek (The lady dragon scenes and when Shrek is yelling at the donkey and you see the air moving over the donkey's fur... that kind of detail)
    I'm fairly shure those kinds of details are there and maybe I missed them....Oh, wait, the close op of Sully on the closet door trolley (the kind like those found in a dry cleaner?) as he moves through the air. Dang, maybe I'll see it again.

    Personally, I wonder what are some of the best voice and screen actors out there.
    Goodman is one, Anthony Hopkins is another who should be added to some of these films as well. Hopkins voice on the tapes in "Hannibal" (and in the movie, too) carries such a presence of *evil* much in the same way Goodman's voice carries a feeling of conviviality/joviality and friendlieness.

    And Frank Oz's talents did not go unnoticed...if only I could place the voices he applied to which characters. That is a tough one.
    Any ideas?

    Overall a good movie. I did wish there was more "scenes" like in the trailers and teasers.
    A little more for the adult audience due to the "chemistry" that Goodman and Crystal have.
    Watch the trailer, then the movie and the "outer Magnolia?, that's outer Mongolia...." bit.

    I guess "Who's on First?" spoiled me, sight, sound and voice gags where even if you miss one or two of the pieces it is still funny, reguardless.
    • They are there, they're just subtle. When Sulley landed in the snow just outside of the town, you saw the snowflakes in his fur as it blew in the wind. In general, at any given moment, you can look at Sulley's fur and see something breathtaking.

      -Erik
  • by Naikrovek ( 667 ) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @09:26PM (#2517552)
    RiCurves();

    Curves (as specified in the RenderMan Interface Specification) are curves with no thickness in 3d space. "Attached" to the curves are square faces with normals that always face the camera. Since there is no cross section of the hair, fur or whatever you're rendering (remember this is a line, not a tube or cylinder) rendering time is grealy improved.

    You can literally put tens of thousands of these on a head, or in the case of John Goodman's charachter, its probably in the millions.

    Curves are very simply described, and they render fast, MUCH faster than curved cylinders, which is what most people think they are. You can write shaders to make them look like they shine as hair would, or what have you.

    Judging by the trailer (I haven't seen the film yet) it would look as they're not just hanging hairs either. when he moves, the hairs react. And just from the tiny amount of screen space and screen time that this hair has on the trailer, i can tell you that pixar wrote software to make the reactions believeable. they act as very clean straight hair would - it looks like it anyway - i've never seen a 7 foot tall hairy monster.
    • A new software package, dubbed "Fizt" (or something similar, I can't find the news article I read Friday) , was created by Pixar for this movie. It generated the fur on Sully, as well as the t-shirt on Boo, as a product of the wind, lighting, and motion in the animated environment automatically. This allowed the animators to concentrate on the animations of the characters themselves, and let the software automatically save them literally weeks at a shot.

      "Fizt" actually appears on one of the buttons used to control the closet doors in the factory. Cute touch.
  • by ellem ( 147712 ) <ellem52@gmTOKYOail.com minus city> on Saturday November 03, 2001 @10:35PM (#2517720) Homepage Journal
    He's 2 this was his review:

    "I liked it but it was sad at the end, the girl was crying. More funny than Toy Story. Can I have juice?"
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Sunday November 04, 2001 @02:54AM (#2518076) Homepage
    Sully is handing toys from the girl's room to her: A ball from Tin Toy, a Jesse doll from Toy Story 2, and others.

    The guy behind me stage-whispers to his date: "Look, he's giving her props!"

    I couldn't tell if the pun was intentional, or even realized, but it was beautiful either way.

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