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Wednesday November 22, 2006 8:43 pm

Monster House DVD Review

Monster House

Monster House is the computer animated tale of an awkward young boy, DJ, and his friends Chowder and Jenny, as they investigate the spooky house across the street and the evil old man (Mr. Nebbercracker) residing within.  When Nebbercracker is suddenly injured and hospitalized, the three decide to take a closer look, discovering, to their horror, that the house itself is actually alive, its intentions quite malicious.  With Halloween soon approaching, the children must destroy the horrible home before unsuspecting trick-or-treaters are caught in its insatiable grasp.  While it may be a bit scary for your preschooler, Monster House is a unique film full of slow, concentrated intensity in a genre often geared toward fidgety children and their fleeting attention spans. 

Monster House has come about at just the right time: CG is at the forefront of filmmaking technology and has become standard in all animation.  Using this knowledge, Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis have executive produced a film that incorporates the eye-catching technology, but follows a more traditional storyline and film style.  This means that, while you’re watching an computer animated film, everything about it feels much more organic; a scary movie is, of course, the perfect vehicle for this idea.  Consequently, this film would’ve worked just as well in live action, but the supernatural story is improved upon by CG because the world created allows a possessed house to seem more real.

The story itself is full of humor for kids and adults alike and is perfect for anyone who enjoys comedy and thrills wrapped in a package all ages can enjoy.  The talented cast includes Jason Lee, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, Jon Heder, Fred Willard, and Kathleen Turner as the house.  DJ and his two friends, voiced by Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, and Spencer Locke, are also very well cast and carry the film with great comedic timing and dramatic intensity.

The DVD special features are a real treat for anybody who appreciates innovative filmmaking.  The director (Gil Kenan) goes to great lengths in making this film with a basis in the real world and the DVD is filled with featurettes showcasing his ideas; nearly every scene was created with organic sound, movement, and direction, and the process from beginning to end is conveyed well.  There is also a fun storyboard feature where the opening scene can be viewed in its four different stages: animated storyboard, live action motion capture, basic three dimensions, and final product.  These can be watched individually or simultaneously.

Monster House is a fun film that will be loved by all members of your family.  It may frighten your youngest a bit, but it’s the good kind of fright: no nightmares, just a few jumps and gasps.  Go out and rent this unique computer animated gem today. 

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