The house across the road from DJ (Musso) has always been
a no go area. Grumpy old Mr. Nebbercracker (Buscemi) frightens the life
out of anyone who even steps on his precious lawn but when DJ finally confronts
him to get his best friend Chowder's (Lerner) basketball back, the old man
drops dead right in front of him from the shock. Feeling extremely guilty,
DJ notices that there is still someone in the house but when Chowder and
him investigate they discover that there isn't someone in the house but
the house itself is alive and out for revenge!
With every major studio producing computer generated animated
features can a story about a possessed house take a big bite out of the
When Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis join forces to produce
an animated movie you are bound to take notice and 'Monster House' is a
movie that you will want to watch. Using the same motion capture technology
that Zemeckis' team pioneered in 'The Polar Express', the animators create
a realistic environment for the human characters to inhabit. In fact having
mostly human characters makes a refreshing change from the usual talking
animals, cars or ants.
Outstanding animation is nothing without great characters
and a good story and 'Monster House' has both of them in spades. The premise
of a haunted house is nothing new to Hollywood movies but actually making
the house itself the evil protagonist. This house is alive and very angry
after the death of the person who built it and it wants revenge on the boy
who it thinks caused it. Evoking the spirit of the classic 'Goonies', DJ,
Chowder and Jenny are the only ones who can stop the House from hurting
anyone else. It is their camaraderie that will remind older fans of the
classic 1985 movie and the fact that Chowder is the new millennium's answer
to Chunk. It fact there are loads of 1980s references scattered throughout
The plot is like a scary story that you would tell around
the campfire, with all the scares and frights that go with it. In fact at
times the movie is a little too frightening for some younger viewers, as
the House provides many a jumpy moment that will have even the most hardened
horror fan jumping with fright. It is the sense of childhood adventure that
rings true however meaning that the film will appeal to all the family and
because of the combination of comedy and scares the adults will enjoy the
film just as much as the kids that watch it with them.
The vocal casting is also good. Like Pixar, the movie concentrates
more on performance than it does making sure which celebrity is providing
the voice. Here we have classic character actors providing the voices, with
most of them barely recognisable from their usual speaking voice. This is
a good thing as it gives the actors the chance to create a character and
not just read the lines in their own voice. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee
and Steve Buscemi are only slightly recognisable as Zee, Bones and Mr. Nebbercracker.
It is the vocal performances of Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke
as DJ, Chowder and Jenny that make the film however. These are believable
child characters that are easy to root for, funny and never annoying.
'Monster House' is one of the best non-Pixar animated movies
to come along in a very long time. By making the lead characters human and
not the usual talking animals or anything else, this allows the audience
to connect with them more easily. The combination of frights and comedy
also works and the addition of some brilliant computer animation, this is
a family movie that you would be too scared to miss.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
movie is presented brilliantly, as you'd expect from a computer-animated
Director Gil Kenan provides a decent and informative single person commentary.
He reveals how the project came about and how he got involved, the story
and the casting of the characters. He also talks extensively about the
pioneering animation techniques used to bring the story to the silver
screen and how the performance capture system allowed the voice actors
to actually play their own parts.
Inside Monster House
Director Gil Kenan, producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke, visual effects
supervisor Jay Redd, sound designer Randy Thom, executive producer Robert
Zemeckis and vocal stars Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve
Buscemi, Jon Heder and Kathleen Turner take you behind the scenes of the
making of 'Monster House'. Split into six sections entitled 'Imaginary
Heroes', 'Beginner's Luck', 'The best of friends', 'Lots of Dots', 'Black
Box Theatre', 'Making it real' and 'Did you hear that', the featurettes
look at the design of the characters, casting, motion capture and the
methods and software used to make 'Monster House' look so impressive.
Evolution of a Scene: Eliza vs. Nebbercracker (2.49 mins)
Director Gil Kenan introduces a multi-angle feature that will allow you
to view the story reel animatic, performance capture, layout stage, animation,
composite and final film, all through the push of a button.
The Art of Monster House
View conceptual art and people, places and things images from Monster
Previews of 'Click', 'Open Season', 'RV', 'Zathura', 'Final Fantasy: Advent
Children', 'The Benchwarmers', 'The Pursuit of Happiness' and 'Stranger
With some good featurettes and a decent commentary, this is the kind
of package you would expect from a Sony release. Fans of the film should
be very pleased with this DVD package.
© 2006 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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