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Monster House 3D
BLU-RAY disk
10.04.2010 By: Jason Adams
Monster House 3D order
Director:
Gil Keane

Actors:
Mitchell Musso
Spencer Locke
Steve Buscemi

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A young boy discovers the house across the street is alive, evil and hungry and enlists his friends to help destroy it.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Being a self-proclaimed Pixar whore, I have a spotty record with CG animated movies from other studios. I've no problem admitting when they get it right (like KUNG FU PANDA or HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON), but let's just say I didn't rush out to see MONSTER HOUSE in theaters. And maybe it was all the positive things I've heard about the movie since its 2006 release, but I wasn't completely blown away.

MONSTER HOUSE was produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis and their influences are definitely felt on the story. The plot feels timeless, the adventure and conflict straightforward, and the coming-of-age characters relatable. The script is also very solid, which should come as no surprise as it's written by Dan Harmon, the creator of the genius show "Community," and Rob Schrab, one of the creators of "The Sarah Silverman Program." I give the writers a lot of credit for not only crafting a very adult story that isn't afraid to pull a hard punch, but also for nailing the speech and mannerisms of real kids. I remember being 13 and talking just like DJ and Chowder.

Unfortunately that authenticity is essentially killed by the CG animation. I think Zemeckis' performance capture animation has slowly improved over the years, but at this point it's still jarring and stiff. It's not as creepy as THE POLAR EXPRESS but the characters definitely feel off and outdated. (It’s amazing how much a few years difference makes.) Aside from the people, everything else in the created world looks great. The house design is thrilling and the final animation is creative and well-done. Sadly, we spend most of the time with the weird looking humans.

I was entertained throughout by MONSTER HOUSE but I guess in the end I was just left with a "That's it?" feeling. It didn't move me or leave much of a lasting impression, but it was an easy way to kill two hours.
THE EXTRAS
Unfortunately I haven't picked up a 3D compatible TV yet, so I wasn't able to watch MONSTER HOUSE 3D as it was intended, but thankfully the Blu-Ray also comes with the regular 2D version for poor people like me.

Commentary by random crew: This might be a first for audio commentary…a track where I have no idea who anyone is. You can make out director Gil Keane, who has lots of enthusiasm and stories to share, but everyone else bounced around so much and weren't properly introduced that it made the commentary almost unlistenable.

Inside MONSTER HOUSE (24:40): This in-depth documentary is divided in to different sections, but can also be watched in one long sitting. The feature covers tons of stuff including character design and creation, casting, working with kids, and the trials and tribulations of performance and motion capture animating. I was surprised to see that everyone acted out pretty much every scene in the movie with the spandex and sensor balls. That's right; Kathleen Turner actually played the house and acted out the movements.

Evolution of a Scene (20:12): If you didn't get enough of it in the previous doc, this feature shows the development of one scene from motion capture to finished animation and everything in between. Fans of animation should get a kick out of this.

The Art of Monster House: Nearly 200 images, in case you feel like flipping through them all on your remote.

3D Trailers for other crappy animated movies. (OPEN SEASON 3D, really?)
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
MONSTER HOUSE has a lot going for it (the script) and a lot working against it (the mo-cap animation), but overall it was passable kids entertainment. But with the level of realism they were going for with the characters (not to mention the fact that they had to act out the entire movie anyways), I can't help but wonder if this would've worked better as a live action movie.

Extra Tidbit: This is the first time since the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies that Spielberg and Zemeckis have collaborated.
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