With such beloved films as Toy Story, The Incredibles and Up, Pixar has built a reputation for remarkable animation, sensational storytelling, and above all quality. Where DreamWorks, their biggest competitor, has regularly been churning out sequels of any of their popular pictures—from Shrek to Madagascar—Pixar has largely opted to take on new original ventures. Of course, that's been shifting. Next summer will see the debut of Monsters University the second in a string of sequels from the lauded animation studio. To lay the path for a prequel that shows beasty buds Mikey and Sully's college years, Pixar has first rereleased their celebrated Monsters Inc. with post-converted 3D.
Upon Monsters Inc.'s initial release in 2001, the movie was a huge hit with critics and audiences, earning more than $525 million worldwide. Whether you're looking to revisit the movie you loved as a child, or are planning to introduce its these kooky creatures to kids of your own, Monsters Inc. is certain to please. But is it worth the extra money for the 3D ticket? We'll break it down below.
Does It Fit? In a word: absolutely! A major aspect to this adventure movie is the massive scale and detail of Monstropolis and the Monsters, Inc. factory, both of which take beautifully to the added dimension. The other is of course the action, from pratfalls to elaborate chase scenes, all of which generally thrives in 3D, bumping up the spectacle and drama.
Fit Score: 5/5
Planning & Effort Obviously the original film's shot choices weren't made with 3D in mind. But because it was initially made in three-dimensional computer animation, the challenge of picking out elements to isolate layers and add dimension is considerably easier than it would be for a live-action film. The post-conversion team clearly was meticulous in their efforts, and not a scene goes by that doesn't manage to incorporate the device in a noticeable way. They had a great base to build from since the movie is made up largely of wide, long and medium shots where there are elements beyond just a characters face in the frame, allowing for a more developed sense of dimension. Of course, watching it strictly to judge the 3D, it wasn't difficult to pick out places where the shot angle would definitely have been altered to better take advantage of the device if that was the filmmakers' original intent. So, I'm docking one point.
Planning & Effort Score: 4/5
Before the Window This category is for the 3D effect that makes you feel like the movie is coming off the screen and out into the theater. As I mentioned above, the original Monsters Inc. wasn't made with this intent in mind, and frankly to force it onto the feature now would be jarring. So, no, there's no sense that the monsters or the snow in the exile sequence are coming out at you. Still, the post-conversion team does manage to pop elements from the screen a bit, most noticeably in closer shots where the characters' noses protrude. Or in the case of the pre-movie short "For the Birds" which is also in 3D, the feathery flock's beaks are noticeably extending out before the screen.
Before the Window Score: 3/5
Beyond the Window This is where Monsters Inc. 3D is at its best! With many shots offering several planes of action, the halls of the towering Monsters Inc. factory show an incredible depth of field that makes it seem like you could walk right into it. The scene in the Abominable Snowman's cave offers a deepened emotional gravity as the walls and the frozen mountains around them give a greater sense of isolation with the added dimension. But most impressive of all, the post-conversion team has added depth to the texture of the monsters' skin and fur, making it pop more than ever. From the stippled texture of Mikey's green skin to the fantastic layers of Sully's swaying blue fur to the cavernous halls of Monsters, Inc., the 3D is beautifully executed to add new depth but also a stronger sense of drama, especially on the final door chasing sequence.
Beyond the Window Score: 5/5
Brightness Pixar knew not to fall victim to this pitfall of post-conversion. For one, their original movie is filled with vivid colors that help avoid this issue. But they also they seem to have jacked the brightness up, as the movie's a bit too bright if you take off your glasses.
Brightness Score: 5/5
The Glasses Off Test This test is pretty self-explanatory. To see how much 3D you're getting in a given scene, remove your glasses and see how much blur there is. The more blur, the more fields of 3D are typically being used. It shouldn't be a surprise from what I've said so far that Monsters Inc. 3D passes this test with flying colors. The only scenes where 3D is not prevalent is when a television screen in in frame (like when Mikey and Sully watch the Monsters Inc. company ad, or when Sully scares Boo in the test room). Of course, it makes sense that the 3D wouldn't transcend the TV screen, and it actually makes for its own sort of glasses off test, as the device pops more when the movie cuts back to its 3D-enhanced characters.
Glasses Off Score: 5/5
Audience Health Though we zig and zag around Monstropolis with Mikey, Sully and Boo, there's nothing dizzying or nauseating about adding 3D to the ride. Pixar's too sharp a studio not to realize the talons would be out for a rerelease that could be considered a cash grab. So, they were clearly careful not to turn out something that they couldn't be proud of.
Audience Health Score: 5/5
Final Verdict: As someone who covers movies professionally, I've seen more than my fair share of 3D features over the past few years. Still, I can count the ones I would enthusiastically recommend on one hand. Now, Monsters Inc. 3D can be counted among them. Pixar was deeply thoughtful and meticulous in adding an enhanced depth of field to the feature. While I've seen this movie probably a half dozen times, watching in 3D really was like seeing it for the first time. I was lost in the fields of Sully's fur, marveled at the apparent texture of Randal's scales, was awed by the imposing immensity of the scare floor, and freshly exhilarated by its winding chase scenes. I cannot suggest strongly enough that you see this one in 3D.