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I just saw this movie at the Seattle International Film Festival. I
didn't know what to expect, but I must say I found it quite enjoyable.
There was a lot of talk before the movie. People were saying that it
will be too scary for the little kids, but not adult enough to capture
older kids attention.
I can see it being quite frightening at times for the little ones, but of the kids in the theater its not like I heard any of them screaming mommy. I don't know how well the movie will do with kids, but from an adult's perspective, its definitely worth a viewing.
The best part of the movie definitely has to be the characters. Each were extremely well thought out and put together. They did a fantastic job of matching right voices with the right characters. Characters facial expressions were amazing. You'll find yourself laughing at things they say and do quite a lot.
The animation looks great. They certainly aren't ground breaking. But they fit the movie well. However, I will say that some scenes looked quite amazing.
If you are looking for a fun, clean movie with plenty of laughs and chuckles, this is definitely one you don't want to miss!
Monster House was a perfect combination of kid-friendliness, horror, action and adventure. When I first walked into the theater I thought it would be "kiddy" because I went to see it with my younger cousin. You know how most animated movies are somewhat funny and about teamwork and working together or teaches life lessons or morals but I actually came to find that this movie was more scary than comical or ethical. I actually got into it. I actually ended up liking it more than my cousin. Some of the content is for older kids but it's non-stop action and the momentum of the story line never stops. And the characters seem so real. 2 thumbs up. I definitely recommend it.
Well, I think if I saw this movie when I was ten years old, I would have been totally scared and could not sleep for weeks. Now it seems time has changed: ten-year-old children are playing horror-video games so probably what was too scary for them in the eighties is just right and fun now. Actually this is just what you could expect from a movie about a monster house: funny, spectacular, sometimes frightening. Quite a well-developed story - even if it is full of clichés, or should I say homage? - with the usual "two boys, one girl" trio as seen in Star Wars or Harry Potter. The animation is strange at first: they seem like rubber dummies, but thanks to the motion capture, their movement and expressions are first rate. While they look like having plastic hair, there is a great development since Polar Express in one field: their eyes are constantly moving - full of life. And the whole movie is just a typical and fun Spielberg-Zemeckis production with elements of Hitchcock. Besides the extraordinarily dark scenes it just feels like those very entertaining Spielberg productions of the eighties.
Looking out his window, DJ (Mitchel Musso) sees a creepy-looking house
(Kathleen Turner). It's owned by Mr Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), who
really doesn't people on his lawn. Toys that end up there disappear,
taken by Nebbercracker to discourage trespassing. DJ catalogues the
lost items, but his parents (Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard) aren't
interested in his observations of the house. Just before Halloween, his
parents leave him home, in the care of babysitter Elizabeth (Maggie
Gyllenhaal), who prefers the nickname "Z". His friend "Chowder" (Sam
Lerner) visits, and joins his observation of the house. They spot Jenny
(Spencer Locke, who is a girl whose parents stuck her with a boy's
name) about to try to sell Halloween candy to Nebbercracker, and hurry
to talk her out of approaching the house. Before long, they discover
that Nebbercracker isn't the only thing that's creepy about the house.
The house, it seems, has a life of its own.
This movie started as a script that sat unproduced for years, for want of technology and the right people to make it. The technology that went into it turned out to be the same sort of animation as _The Polar Express_, digital animation based on motion capture. Like _Polar_, it has a stylized look rather than attempting photorealism, but instead of taking the look of paintings in a book, it took the look of extremely detailed dolls and doll accessories. But with motion capture driving the movements of the characters, they end up with a lot of personality, which overrides their stylized look. The animation is least effective in the climax scene at the end, where it exaggerates the action just a bit too far for my tastes, but even there it's pretty good. Most of the time the animation is excellent, with just the right degree of exaggeration to fit the stylized look. The sets are very good, particularly a construction site near the house. I'd rate the animation very good.
More important than the technology is the story. What really makes the images on the screen interesting is the way they serve the story. Comparing with _The Polar Express_ again highlights the point -- this movie had a solid story, compared with _Polar_, which expanded a very thin children's book into a feature-length story. This movie's story isn't in a class with the best of Pixar, but the film-makers are clearly aware of the fact that the strength of the story is very important. I'd rate the story very good.
The voice and motion capture performances, shot in only 34 days, are almost all excellent. My favorite was Maggie Gyllenhaal, who was wonderful in her supporting part as babysitter "Z". The least satisfying, I thought, was Jon Heder (as video-game master "Skull"), and he was good, just not great. Even Kathleen Turner, as the house, performed in the motion capture space, moving around in a neighborhood constructed of foam. I really hope that the director wasn't joking when he said he might include her motion capture video as a DVD extra. Nick Cannon, as a rookie police officer, was probably the funniest character, relative to his screen time.
Kathleen Turner's presence in the cast is a bit of a nod to executive producer Robert Zemeckis, who cast her as Jessica Rabbit in _Who Framed Roger Rabbit_. She was thrilled by the part, which gave her a grotesque role to mirror her glamorous role as Jessica Rabbit. Other Zemeckis references are more obvious. Most obvious one is in the opening, featuring a leaf. Another deals with a basketball -- originally an accident during production. Others may exist, but it's not packed with pop culture references like the _Shrek_ movies.
Directing an animated film is different in a lot of ways from directing live action, which makes it more complicated to rate. Directing this movie involved directing both the motion capture performances and the camera positioning. The director took the script, and made complete storyboards from it. From those, he made an animatic, which guided the way he directed the motion capture shoot. Because of the way character interactions affected the results, he said that he ended up throwing out all the storyboarding, but I'd guess he meant that figuratively. The character interaction looked really good, better than almost any animated movie I've seen. I'd rate the directing excellent, in a class with Pixar.
Overall, I'd rate the movie very good, mostly on the strength of the story. Kids are usually easy to please, and they'll probably find the movie excellent. Adults are harder to please. Where _Shrek_ emphasizes pop culture references for adult appeal, this movie targets adults' memories of childhood, effectively drawing adults into enjoying it like the kids in the audience.
Credits: There are a few additional scenes after the credits begin. Don't run out right away. Stick around at least until the fine-print credits roll.
Personal appearances: The director, Gil Kenan, and a couple of the producers (I don't know which ones, but not Spielberg or Zemeckis) were there. The director took questions from the audience, and answered very enthusiastically -- he seemed like he was thrilled to see his film in front of a real audience, and not burned out from hearing the same questions over and over. He was really nice to the kids in the audience, and behaved like he was new to the experience of being the center of attention. He signed lots of autographs (including one for me), and seemed genuinely pleased that people cared enough to ask. That's a reaction that one might expect for the director of something obscure, but uncommonly nice for the director of a big-budget summer movie.
The US rating is "PG", for some scary scenes and (supposedly) "crude humor and brief language". The crude humor is minimal, compared to typical movies aimed at kids. I can't think of any inappropriate language.
Let's be clear - Monster House is not your typical 'feel-good'
children's movie. That isn't to say, however, that there are never any
points where the viewer is allowed to feel good. In fact, I discovered,
despite my initial resistance to a movie that I thought would simply
impress me graphically, copious moments of warmth and humor within the
unembellished and utterly human actions of the characters. This is the
movie's paramount success. Not the plot, the myriad celebrity voices,
or even the decisively unique and dazzling computer animation. Where
Monster House really shines is within the dialogue and behavior of its
perfectly believable personalities. From the girl-musings and growing
pains of the pubescent DJ and Chowder to the cantankerous rantings of
their crotchety old neighbor Nebbercracker, the cast is so natural that
one would expect to run across such people within day-to-day life. It
is this element that helps Monster House transcend an entirely surreal
plot to make an idea so bizarre and twisted seem entirely real.
It is true that Monster House does contain a predominantly dark theme, with a considerable amount of eerie scenes to support it. I don't believe, however, that this should keep it from being shared with children, especially those preadolescences that will soon enough be able to relate to the emotions and actions of its protagonists. As long as younger children have the guidance of a parent or other compassionate adult, this film has the potential be viewed and adored by all ages.
I saw this film as part of a free screening I took my little sister to and was ready for an immature piece of fluff. Preparing for restless children making bathroom trips and throwing an occasional tantrum overshadowing a mediocre movie I was happily proved wrong. Too many CG-generated films ride on the spectacle of the animation technique keeping audiences in awe while forgoing story. While jaws drop at impossible camera angles and while 3-D rendered characters being stretched in a 2-D way we all play spot/ear the celebrity voice. The Dennis Leary as a ladybug joke can only be taken so far. Perhaps a bar is being set by Pixar to work from an entertaining script like "The Incredibles" that would make an good movie no matter how it was made. Drawing from the neighborhood ghost story and a dash of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shunned House" Amblin delivered an entertaining popcorn movie that ranges in age appeal. The humor could have easily fallen into stereotypical characters, the familiarity of the story, and bathroom laughs, but maintains irony and, while not naive, maintains a reverence for the innocence of the characters and no doubt much of the young audience. This is a popcorn movie, no doubt, and not every gag is spot on, but it makes for a good matinée and a pretty good introduction to horror movies for a younger crowd. As a fan of animation I walked into a second-run screening of "The Iron Giant" and loved it. For me seeing a good movie outside of hype is a lot of fun. I know my expectations were low and the movie was free but I thought it was pretty cool.
First of all, let me establish that I have never been impressed by the
3D process. The best that I had previously seen was "Ghosts of the
Abyss", but there were still too many glitches for my eye to really buy
into the process. I never had a chance to see "Polar Express" in 3D,
but wasn't really anxious too because of my previous lackluster
responses to the 3D experience. Then came "Monster House"....
I have NEVER seen anything like this before. The story itself is entertaining and very reminiscent of the type of movie that Steven Spielberg would have made in the early 80's, but the 3D element makes it an EVENT! If you have a choice to see this in a regular theater or in 3D, do not hesitate to see it 3D! From the moment the title comes on screen, I knew I was going to see a level of realism in the 3D process that I had never experienced before. In fact, seeing "Monster House" in a regular theater might be akin to seeing all of "The Wizard of Oz" in black and white. It would severely diminish the potential impact of the film. "Monster House" was obviously envisioned as a 3D experience and the technical process envelopes you in the story and the world in which it takes place in a way that is so immediate and palpable.
Lest you think that only the technique is worthy of praise, let me mention that the script, the performances, the direction, the score are all of the fun, adventurous spirit of all the best movies I remember from my youth. It has the feel of "E.T.", "The Goonies", even a little bit of "Poltergeist", just a lot more kid-friendly. The movie isn't extraordinary, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. So a giddy 8 stars for the movie, but an enthused 10 stars for the experience. PLEASE, do yourself the favor of seeing this on a 3D screen!
In almost any neighbourhood, there is always that one house, or that
unit of apartment, which has spiritual connotations attached to it. It
could be because of tragedy, or rumours, or just for the simple reason
that it's unoccupied, or has some elderly, probably unkindly, strange
looking old folk living in it, that gives the creeps to anyone under
the age of 10.
In Monster House, it uses a familiar urban legend, and plays up the nastiness associated with such a location. DJ (Mitchel Musso) stays opposite a creepy looking house, and bears witness, through his telescope, of the things that go bump in the night, and the horrible things that it does. Natually, because he's a kid, nobody believes him, save for good friend cum resident fat-kid loser Chowder (Sam Lerner).
The story's kept tight by having set a day before Halloween, and despite the children being stereotyped, Chowder actually stole the show from DJ with his at time innocent, at time crafty and sly antics, and there's a nice tango for attention between the two boys and their crush of the moment - Jenny (Spenser Locke). So while the three of them get set to unravel the mystery of the Monster House, it doesn't disappoint, with the bickering, laughs and budding romance, chemistry like that between Potter, Ron and Hermione. Hmm.. now that I mentioned, it looked more like a Harry Potter clone.
The graphics require some getting used to, given that it's deliberately not done in a cutesy manner, thereby coming across at times as quite stiff. Come to think of it, there isn't an artificially created "cute" character in the movie, as it adapts "real life" as best as it could, in an animated form. And for a horror movie, it put its real life counterparts to shame, especially in its anticipatory build up in mood and atmosphere.
Anyway, the trailer doesn't give much away except to whet your appetites, so I'll keep it at that rather than to inadvertently reveal any surprises. And if you're undecided between the two animated flicks on offering this week at the local cinemas, then my advice would be to pick Monster House over Barnyard. Here, the story is clearer superior. And that's what matters, really.
Spectacular visuals, unforgettable characters, and a fairy tale story
with a twist! Highly recommend the Real D 3-D version if available in
Movie was scary, funny, dramatic and entertaining all at once. However, some parts of the movie may be a little too scary for kids 8 and under. For grown ups that still try to catch every episode of SpongeBob, this is it!
The Real D 3-D version added to the movie going experience. I didn't experience fatigue or dizziness for the entirety of the movie -- which was more common in previous 3-D movie technology. When I saw the beginning of the end credits, the experience just leaves you begging for more -- but for now, I know that desire can be satisfied by watching this movie again in the near future.
I guess you could label this an "edgy animated film." It's certainly
wasn't made with little kids in mind. If it was, that was a mistake
because this a pretty scary film in parts - much to much for the little
The "edginess" isn't just the violence (a Halloween-type scary house and the comes alive and attacks people), it's most of the characters. They are typical Hollywood-young people meaning they have "attitudes." They aren't exactly sweet, lovable people, except for the one young boy "D.J." (voiced by Mitchel Musso). The dialog on the kids - two boys, the babysitter and her boyfriend - make this more of a film for teens and younger adults. The "attitude" means wise-remarks and general obnoxiousness and rebellious attitudes. The worst in that attitude category is D.J.'s friend "Chowder," the kind of guy who talks you into doing things that wind up getting YOU in trouble.
The best part of the film, besides the animation, is the unpredictability of the story. You kept wondering what was going to happen next. That made the 91 minutes go by pretty fast. It's a simple story but very entertaining despite the not-so-great-role models and, as most pictures do, has a good message and a few heartwarming scenes at the end.
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