Monkeybone: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser) has created a cartoon simian named Monkeybone, who has become a massive sensation, sending him into the spotlight. He is not all that pleased with the fame however, as he is swamped with offers of merchandise and what not, which he doesn’t want to do at all. He is no fan of fame and riches, he just wants to do his work and live a normal life, but that’s now pretty hard to do indeed. At a party thrown for potential clients interested in Monkeybone, Stu plans to propose to his girlfriend Julie (Bridget Fonda), with an heirloom engagement ring from his grandmother. But before he is able to do so, a massive inflatable Monkeybone prop expands within his car, sending him into a building and as a result, into a deep coma. His body is laid up in a hospital bed, but his mind has crash landed in Downtown, which is a waiting area for the deceased, to learn whether they’re moving on to the realm of the dead, or getting a second chance at life, so to speak. Now Stu is face to face with his creation, Monkeybone and of course, he wants to cause Stu all sorts of problems, some more serious than others. Can Stu manage to throw Monkeybone off his trailer and return to his life, or will this spiral into something much more complicated?

This film was a total bomb at the box office, but I have to think it was marketing errors responsible, not the actual movie itself. The television spots made this seem like a quirky kid friendly flick, when that simply isn’t the truth. Monkeybone is an intense, offbeat visual journey, with enough crude humor & adult aimed antics to more than deserve the PG-13 rating it was given. I suppose older kids could watch this movie, but I think it is more designed for a little older audience, due to all the in jokes and potentially offensive humor involved. I loved Monkeybone and if you’re at all interested in production design & visuals, this is one you can’t afford to miss. This flick has some of the most complex, impressive visuals I’ve ever seen, from costumes to set pieces to character design, it’s all top notch in Monkeybone. I was blown away by the incredible production design elements, it is a visual masterpiece to be sure, simply stunning throughout. I know this movie had a bad run and all, but I urge anyone interested to seek out Monkeybone on DVD, as it is a great film and while very dark, it is also very humorous and offers some lush visuals, to say the least.

The man behind Monkeybone is director Henry Selick, who unites live action with stop motion, but never allows it to become the focus of the picture. The elements weave together and back apart in seamless fashion, you never really even notice, which is compliment, I assure you. I expected myself to be sewn up in watching the elements interact, but that wasn’t the case at all, as that was just a single wheel in the machine that is the film’s entire structure. I was unsure how well Selick would handle the live action aspect of the film, but he has more than proven himself and I cannot wait for his next project, that is for sure. Other films directed by Selick include The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. The cast here includes Brendan Fraser (The Mummy Returns, Bedazzled), Rose McGowan (Jawbreaker, Scream), Chris Kattan (House on Haunted Hill, A Night at the Roxbury), Bridget Fonda (Kiss of the Dragon, A Simple Plan), Dave Foley (Blast from the Past, A Bug’s Life), and of course, John Tuturro (O Brother Where Art Thou, Rounders) as the voice of Monkeybone.

Video: How does it look?

Monkeybone is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As usual with Fox releases, this image looks awesome and shows minimal problems to report. The intense visuals come off very well, which is vital in such a visually charged film, to be sure. The rainbow of colors is rich and bold, but never too much so, while flesh tones remain as intended, so not always natural in the grand scheme. The film’s dark visuals are never hindered in the least, thanks to razor sharp black levels and a strong sense of detail, quite impressive indeed. A few very minor issues do surface, but this is still a wonderful visual presentation, which is what counts.

Audio: How does it sound?

This disc sports dual 5.1 surround options in Dolby Digital and DTS, which should keep both camps pleased and since both sound excellent, no one will be let down in the least. I gave both tracks a listen and both were very impressive, I was hard pressed to pick a favorite, to be honest. But as I compared scenes, a slight edge is present for the DTS option, though not enough to really declare it the winner, just a little tighter overall, I think. The surrounds are used often and to great ends, thanks to the wicked sound effects and rockin’ soundtrack. This movie has some awesome audio potential and these tracks use every last drop, I was blown away, to be sure. The dialogue isn’t lost in all this however, as the vocals remain crisp and always easy to understand. This disc also includes 2.0 surround options in English and French, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I was thrilled to find some cool extras included here, more than enough to live up the special edition banner on the cover, to be sure. The main draw is an audio commentary track with director Henry Selick, who provides a most interesting session indeed. It was great to hear his comments, especially on the technical issues involved in the production of Monkeybone. But he never becomes dull in the least, so while it is very informative, Selick’s track is also quite humorous at times. You’ll also have access to seven animation studies, which come equipped with optional commentary as well. I found these to be most interesting and since the film is very visual, I’m pleased these unique studies were offered, especially with optional, insightful audio commentary included. You cannot enable Selick’s comments on all of these, but most you can and as such, fans should be pleased. If you wondered what segments were shortened to get the PG-13 rating, you’ll learn here, thanks to the eleven extended scenes packed into this disc, including an alternate ending. Again, some of them have optional commentary from Selick, which sheds even more light on why the scenes were trimmed in the final version. This disc also includes three television spots and a selection of still photos, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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