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Monsters University Blu-ray Combo Pack
Monsters University offers a Revenge of the Nerds sort-of plot following Monsters Inc.’s Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) as they get through their painstaking formative years and finally make it to college, where they plan to become scare majors. Passing all of the scare tests proves a little more difficult than either young monster initially thinks.
It doesn’t help that Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) has little faith in Mike and Sulley, believing they lack what it takes to be scare majors at Monsters University. Although she makes her point clear, Mike doggedly pursues the scare school and enlists Sulley and a group of other unlikely candidates to attempt to prove their worth via the university’s annual Scare Games. Those candidates include Don (Joel Murray), Terri and Terry (Sean Hayes and Dave Foley), Squishy (Peter Sohn), and Art (Charlie Day).
Much of the joy found in Monsters University comes from its nods to its predecessor. Peppered into the new plot are plenty of characters from Pixar’s original film. Randy Boggs (Steve Buscemi) has a pretty big role in the new movie, and The Abominable Snowman (John Ratzenberger) and Roz (Bob Peterson) also make an appearance. Monsters University works as a standalone film, but its loving winks to its precursor work for fans with fond memories of the original.
Monsters University is available in a 3D combo pack, a Blu-ray combo pack, a DVD, and digital release. We took a look at the Blu-ray combo pack, which comes with a DVD and Digital copy, but you can order any of the sets over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Even if you were only a semi-big fan of Monsters University, there are still multiple reasons to purchase the set. The menu screen is gorgeous and gives you a pretty great look at the campus. Even more excitingly, the set features the accompanying short film, "The Blue Umbrella," which features a clever story as well as plenty of sight gags when a blue umbrella goes for a walk on a rainy day.
The short will probably be the biggest treat for older audiences, but there is a ton of behind-the-scenes stuff, too, located on the separate bonus disc that comes with the Blu-ray set. Most of these are great, but I particularly enjoyed the "Welcome to MU" segment, which gives viewers a look at the creation of the campus found in the film. Everything is incredibly detailed and up to Pixar standard, and it’s pretty interesting to see director Dan Scanlon explain some of the details fans may have missed.
If I have one complaint, it’s that most of these extras are geared toward an older crowd, but they should still be worth a watch for avid Pixar fans.
Other Special Features:
"Color and Light"
"Paths to Pixar: MU Edition"
R.I.P.D. Blu-ray Combo Pack
R.I.P.D begins with one of the grossest-looking monsters film has ever seen. Via voiceover, we learn that Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) has recently joined a post-death police force known as the Rest in Peace Department, following his death at the hands of his Boston Police partner. His partner in this new afterlife police department, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), is a former cowboy who now spends a lot of time chasing after "Deados," dead spirits that become hideous and bloated as they rot. It’s up to Roy and his recently deceased partner to solve a mystery and save the world in R.I. P.D..
While Bridges’ turn as a comedic cowboy is generally entertaining and Reynolds is fine in yet another action hero role, the movie as a whole is poorly scripted—although some wild demon and monster concepts are introduced—and hits more goofy notes than satisfying ones. It doesn’t help that the movie is full of outrageous characters, including Roy and department head Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who go for comedy a lot of the times, while other characters, including Nick and Boston P.D.’s bad boy Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon), play their roles much more seriously. The world in R.I.P.D. has the same attitude and setup as the part-comedy, part-action franchise, Men in Black, and though it has its moments, it never feels like a demon or buddy cop movie that’s striving for something new.
R.I.P.D. is available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD. We took a look at the Blu-ray copy, but you can order any copy you’d like over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: For a movie that didn’t do particularly well at the box office, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has still put together an incredible Blu-ray set that is chock full of bonus features. The film is based on the Dark Horse Entertainment comic book Rest In Peace Department by Peter M. Lenkov, and if you are interested in how tropes and characters from the book were brought to life onscreen, there are several bonus features devoted to that concept. The best of these is probably "Transferring R.I.P.D. - The Making Of," which explains how the idea was first pitched, became a graphic novel and then was eventually turned into a film.
Other Special Features:
Alternate Opening #1
Alternate Opening #2
R.I.P.D. Motion Comics: Bringin The Avatars To Life"
Nick’s New Avatars
"Filming The Other Side"
"Walking Among Us: Deados & Avatars"
"Anatomy of A Shootout"
Family Tree DVD
This week is fairly quiet on the release front. We’ve gotten through plenty of the fall TV releases, and while film Blu-ray and DVD releases are abounding right now, this week’s a little slow on that front. Still, along with Monsters University and R.I.P.D., HBO Home Entertainment has released the first season of Family Tree onto DVD.
The Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock-produced mockumentary series follows Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd), a 30-year-old Brit who is tracing his family lineage. His travels take him to various places in Britain, and later, send him overseas to America after he learns his lineage is split. A lot of Guest’s frequent collaborators, including Ed Begley, Jr., Bob Balaban, Fred Willard, and Michael McKean all pop up in the series and the improvising is oddball, sometimes twisted, and always amusing—if you are into that sort of thing.
Although there are only eight episodes to Family Tree in Season 1, the 2-disc set is still a fairly nice one, with an interesting menu setup, featuring bonus features, an episode guide, and a recap option for each episode. The comedy series doesn’t offer a ton of bonus features, but buyers will get bonus scenes, music from the show, and a group of short segments collectied under the heading "Keith’s Favorite 1970s Sitcoms." These are worth a watch, but keep in mind that there is no "play all" function on the disc, so you have to play each of the songs, extra scenes, or sitcom segments individually.
You can order Family Tree: The Complete First Season over at Amazon. Additionally, you can check out some of the rest of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, these are both available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Other October 29 Releases
Cars 3D: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Free Samples DVD
The Beauty of the Devil
La Notte Criterion Collection
Damages: The Complete Series