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Goosebumps (Blu-ray Review)

GoosebumpsKids and parents will believe in monsters when GOOSEBUMPS debuts January 12 on Digital and January 26 on Blu-ray 3D™ Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD. Based on Scholastic’s worldwide best-selling book series, with over 400 million copies in print, the motion picture adventure stars Jack Black (School of Rock) as Goosebumpsauthor R.L. Stine, along with Dylan Minnette (Prisoners), Ryan Lee (Super 8) and Odeya Rush (The Giver). When Zach (Minnette) unwittingly unleashes magical monsters on the town, he must team with his new friends Champ (Lee), Hannah (Rush) and Stine (Black) to send the ghouls back where they came from before it’s too late. The film is directed by Rob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens) and produced by Deborah Forte (The Golden Compass) and Neil H. Moritz (22 Jump Street). The screenplay is by Darren Lemke (Turbo) based on a story by star screenwriting team Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (Big Eyes).

Goosebumps

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After moving to a small town, Zach Cooper finds a silver lining when he meets next-door neighbor Hannah, the daughter of best-selling Goosebumps series author R.L. Stine. Stine is very mysterious and a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and he protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their manuscripts. When the monsters are accidentally unleashed and begin to terrorize the town, it’s up to Stine, Zach and Hannah to get them back in their books where they belong!

In my youth I was an avid fan of Goosebumps.  As a matter of fact, I started reading them as they started publishing.  I was sort of getting into Fear Street at the time, which was RL Stine’s more older teen horror books, and then came Goosebumps.  And with them came some really awesome eye-grabbing cover artwork  and catchy titles that had you not caring what the book was about, but you were going to check it out anyway.  Hooked for a good long stint, I still have stacks and stacks of them from my childhood.

With a film, and in this day and age of franchising and shared universe’ing, they could have easily started just adapting book by book.  Instead, they’ve taken a Jumanji-type approach to it and made it a spiritual third piece to a trilogy with the former and Zathura.  And this winds up being the dynamite route to take with it, as you get a fun little world and a lot of monsters you remember reading about.  Plus is A JILLION BAZILLION times better than Jumanji.

There may be a lot of monsters in the film, but the primary focused ones are the infamous dummy Slappy, abominable snowman of Pasadena, werewolf of fever swamp and the lawn gnomes.  However, there are A TON of monsters here.  Much of this movie reminding me of the third act of Cabin in the Woods where I wanted to pause the screen constantly and check out all the monsters on display.  That’s where a lot of the fun in this movie can arise, where you just marvel at all these creations springing to new life in this film.  And it works out just fine and never feels forced.  Just pure monster mayhem!

The cast features a fun bunch of young actors mixing in with some terrific vets.  While he’s not used much at all here, I got a bit of a shock when I noticed “Ken Marino is in this movie?!?!?!”  Amy Ryan plays the mother, and just blasts her charm in every moment she can.  Her son, played by Dylan Minnette is pretty good here as well.  What made me super happy to see in supporting/guest turns were both Jillian Bell and Timothy Simons.  And both bring everything you love about them to the table.  Jack Black is also pretty fun as this silly cartoon version of RL Stine.  I must mention that this movie actually has a really great sense of humor about it and I found myself laughing aloud a few times.

Goosebumps is a really fun family adventure film.  If you have little ones, it will very much play like a monster mashup horror movie for them and provide some scares.  Some of the effects are a bit on the “obvious CG” end, but I think the film is good enough that its not really a bother.  Even if you’re not into this film’s story or films “for everyone”, if you’re a horror buff, you can appreciate the creature eye-candy on display.  Overall, everything comes together quite well for a very fun (and funny) time.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  As expected, this release looks marvelous on Blu-ray.  Some of the computer effect work probably gets docked a hair because of it, but its not a big deal.  Details come aplenty, especially when you get good looks at Slappy’s decay on his face.  

Depth:  This was released in 3-D, so you know this one is pretty strong in its depth of field.  Movements are smooth and everything is given terrific spacing.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich.  Most of this movie is dark and shadowy, but lit well enough that detail isn’t hidden.

Color Reproduction:  Colors come across very strong and fulfilling.  Greens are particularly strong, but that doesn’t mean the others are quite bold themselves.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are consistent throughout.  Make-up, stubble, blemishes, freckles and the like are visible from most all distances.

Noise/Artifacts: Its clean.

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Audio Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French Spanish

Dynamics:  This review is for the 7.1 TrueHD track, because I am not set for Atmos.  However, this one is no slouch.  As per usual with TrueHD, you’ll have to turn it up just a bit higher.  When you do, you’re in for quite an experience with monster’ing going on all around the room.  Action scenes are quite impactful with the quiet ones providing some good suspense.

Low Frequency Extension:  Fires roaring, crashing, books sucking monsters in, every sort of brutal moment in the film is buffered by your sub.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Not only is some terrific ambient noise filtered through your sides and rear, but they get their own majestical additions to the mix too.  The front speakers do an awesome job of tracking movements and on-screen placement of characters and action.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clear.

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

Goosebumps comes with a DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Cast Blooper Reel (HD, 3:08)

Alternate Opening (HD, 3:28)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 13:03) – Woah, they cut Kumail Nanjiani from this movie?  Man, they were on it when they were casting little cameo’esque roles!

All About Slappy (HD, 4:44) – This one also plays following the warning cards after the movie.  The film’s dummy goes over the history of his character and we also get a look at creating him for the film.  Contains interviews with cast, crew and R. L. Stine.

Beginner’s Guide To Surviving A Goosebumps Creature (HD, 5:47) – The characters of Zach and Champ go over the ins and outs to avoiding or dealing with the monsters in the film.

Strange Things Are Happening…On-Set (HD, 3:30) – Dylan Minnette, who plays protagonist Zach, talks about some strange things that occurred during the shooting of the movie.

Creaturefied! (HD, 8:56) – A cool little piece in which the make-up artists discuss their work on the film and show you how you can do it at home.

Cast Screen Test Gallery (HD, 7:28) – “Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush”, “Jack Black, Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush”, “Jack Black and Dylan Minnette 1”, “Jack Black and Dylan Minnette 2”.

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0

In terms of Jumanji-type movies, Goosebumps was my jam!  I don’t know yet if I like it better than Zathura or not, but its right up there with it.  Why are they even remaking Jumanji when they could just take some other property and do what they did with Goosebumps here?  I don’t get it.  There’s a lot of fun and I really dug the humor here.  This Blu-ray both looks and sounds terrific.  Its packed with extras that are kinda “eh” for me, but for younger people and those who don’t have to sift through extras on a day-to-day basis, they might prove to be richer content.  Definitely check out the movie and have no fear in purchasing it if you already enjoy it!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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