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Monster House
DVD disk
10.24.2006 By: Quigles
Monster House order
Director:
Gil Kenan

Actors:
Mitchel Musso
Sam Lerner
Steve Buscemi

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A small group of tweens attempt to destroy an evil house that appears to be alive.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Not just the best animated movie of 2006 thus far, MONSTER HOUSE is also one of the best movies of the year period. It's slick, lively, entertaining, incredibly well made, and has plenty enough humor to appeal to both kids and adults alike. It's the perfect family film, presented in the form of a horror film for younguns. It's not exactly frightening for anyone over ten, but it's a lot of fun, and that's all I ask for with a movie like this.

It's pretty much become normal to expect the best out of the CGI in animated films recently, yet this flick still manages to beat out those expectations. Beautiful cannot even describe how good this movie looks. The CGI actually appears real, almost like a mix of breathtaking computer graphics and claymation. But of course, good animation would mean nothing without a solid script. Luckily, MONSTER HOUSE has a great one. The actual story may sound a little stupid, but it's handled perfectly. The execution of the camera shots, character development, etc. - it actually makes the film feel like a live-action production (only better, because of the technological advantages).

I especially liked the characters, who despite being a little obvious in form, help raise the movie's entertainment factor immensely. You've got the goofy best friend, the prim-and-proper pretty girl, the rock-and-roll babysitter (voiced by Maggie Gyllenhaal), the babysitter's asshole boyfriend (voiced by Jason Lee), the crotchety old spinster (voiced by Steve Buscemi), and plenty more (*ahem* Fred Willard, Jon Heder, Nick Cannon, Kevin James, Catherine O'Hara, Kathleen Turner, etc.). Now, that's a lot of characters, and, despite many of them not getting a whole lot of screen time, they each bring something unique and memorable to their roles (big thanks to the motion capture process for that one!).

So, whether you're a kid or an adult, MONSTER HOUSE is easily worth your time. It ain't your standard kiddy fair.
THE EXTRAS
The special features here are some of the most entertaining I've seen, even though they don't add up to a whole lot.

Filmmaker Commentary (with director Gil Kenan and other crew): While I did enjoy this commentary (which is fairly in-depth and goes over some interesting points), I wish it wasn't so rigid. Kenan kicks things off to start with, and then just random people tend to begin speaking after the previous person has finished - they don't even introduce themselves. I think I would've liked a solo track with only Kenan better, although this was fine as well.

Inside Monster House (24:25): There are seven featurettes available here, each dealing with a specific part of the production. Individually, they aren't that long, but they are still very interesting and fun to watch. I think I enjoyed these making-of segments more than almost any others I've had to sit through. The first couple simply go over the project's beginning, casting the actors, etc. Later on, we get to the motion capture stuff, which is just a breathtakingly cool procedure. The more I watched, the more my love for the film grew. It's cool knowing that the actors actually had to perform for the film, and not just provide voices - similar to how it's cool knowing when actors do their own stunts, or when practical effects are used over CG ones. If you enjoyed the movie, definitely watch these featurettes. While they might not have been as in-depth as I would've liked, at least they weren't just worthless promo pieces.

Evolution of a Scene (2:55): Part of this extra is a simple featurette (which basically goes step by step through the process of animating, with commentary by director Gil Kenan), and the second actually lets you watch the scene with the multi-angle feature. Normally, this wouldn't interest me (after watching 100 some odd CGI films, you start not to care), but seeing as how this movie features the motion capture technology, I found it very interesting. There are 5 stages in total (storyboard, animatic, performance capture, basic rendering, finished scene), as well as a final one that shows each stage side-by-side.

The Art of Monster House: This is separated into three sections - "Conceptual Art", "People", and "Places and Things". Cool paintings, drawings, models, etc. - worth a look.

There are also 6 Previews (one of which is for SPIDER-MAN 3 - yay!).
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Loaded to the brim with fun characters, a non-stop assortment of amusing gags, a cleverly written story, and one badass looking house, this flick is destined to become a Halloween classic. So come that time of year in October, I'll be glad I have this on my DVD shelves, eager to watch it right alongside THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and the rest of my Halloween favorites (...of course, the latter usually consist of gratuitous female nudity and people's limbs being sliced off).
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