Disney-Pixar continues their ongoing program of reissuing their catalog in the popular 3D format with Monsters, Inc., which opens on December 19. Like Finding Nemo, the 3D version of the 2001 film has been completely re-rendered in higher definition, and the detail is incredible. Though not as stunning as the underwater world of Nemo, Monsters, Inc. has some effective moments; in particular, the massive door-storage warehouse sequence is pretty spectacular, and the bit where Sully gives a “scare” demonstration works well. Since Monsters, Inc. was not directed with 3D in mind, there is very little in the way of things jumping out of the screen at you; the effect primarily serves to add depth to the visuals. I like the 3D effect best when it’s not calling undue attention to itself; there are no characters playing paddleball in this one, and that’s just fine. The most effective use of the the process is a little thing, Randall’s invisibility. When Steve Buscemi’s chameleon-like character becomes visible, he seems to ooze forward out of the background in a nicely creepy way.
Back in the days before home video, cable TV and movies-on-demand, Disney had a policy of re-releasing their films on a regular basis so as to capture each generation of children; the normal cycle was every seven years, long enough for the older audience to look forward to seeing it again and younger audiences to discover it for the first time. Most of Disney’s catalog was held back from TV broadcast in order to support the re-release system, until the advent of VHS and the many Disney cable channels made the program untenable. Disney-Pixar’s new 3D initiative is something of a callback to that tradition, and perhaps the addition of 3D is enough justification to put an audience in the seats, but it could be argued that the films themselves do that. A Pixar movie on the big screen and with an audience is an event, an experience worth having, and the films definitely hold up over time. Monsters, Inc. is still an exciting, charming, funny, touching film; it doesn’t really need 3D or enough resolution to see the movement of every hair on Sully’s blue-furred hide. But if that’s what it takes to get these films back into the theaters for a while, then bring on the 3D.
The reissue of Monsters, Inc. also serves as a refresher to prepare the audience for Monsters University, which hits theaters in June, some twelve years after the original. The new movie is a prequel that shows us Mike and Sully’s college years. Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their roles, and several other characters also return.