“According to this, the Scary Ferry to the Monster of Liberty should be just a little bit farther.”


Lately one of the things that Monster High has done consistently and consistently well is to make sure each film has a different monster driving the story. This time around it’s Cleo’s (Salli Saffioti) turn to stand in the spotlight and Monster High’s biggest diva is a natural choice for the franchise’s first foray into the world of full-blown musicals. That’s right, Monster High: Boo York, Boo York is the first full-fledged musical produced by Mattel for the series.

When Cleo gets the call from her father Ramses (Audu Paden) and sister Nefera (Wendee Lee) to attend a once in a millennium gala in Boo York of course Cleo’s going to give the people what they want and take not one but all of her ghoulfriends. One of those friends is Catty Noir (Missi Hale), the pop star who gave up a life in the limelight for life as a student at Monster High. This leads us to another example of something else Monster High does well, and that is introduce new monsters in every movie, about four apiece. Not only do we get to know Catty better this time around we also meet the comet alien Astranova (Erin Fitzgerald), the native eastsider Mousecedes King (Rachel Staman), DJ Elle Eedee (Laura Bailey), Luna Mothews (Laura Weisman), the moth girl who dreams of starring on Bloodway, and Pharaoh (TJ Smith), one of Boo York’s most popular underground rappers.

But while Cleo thinks she’s there to witness the first public unveiling of the piece of the legendary Cosmic Comet she doesn’t understand that something more nefarious is going on. And speaking of nefarious the plot is conceived of and executed by none other than Cleo’s very own sister Nefera. Any promises made under the light of The Cosmic Comet is considered binding for all time. So naturally the two most powerful families in the Egyptian world, the Ptolemies and the DeNiles, see this as an opportunity to form the most powerful dynasty the world has ever known. The problem with that? They need to announce an engagement. And while originally the thought is Nefera would be engaged to Madame Ptolemy’s son Seth (TJ Smith), Nefera would much rather have her freedom while maintaining all of that lovely power, thanks. The solution? Get little sister Cleo to be the one who gets engaged to Seth. Of course there is the tiny problem of Deuce (Evan Smith), Cleo’s boyfriend. But that’s not really much of a problem, and indeed with only a few well-placed words and actions Deuce is out of the picture, leaving Cleo free to get engaged. Of course Cleo’s not the only ghoul involved in this engagement and it’s here we end up focusing.

This is not a film with unexpected twists and turns by any means but that’s not to say that it’s without charm. And while I may not be overly fond of the hip-hop heavy musical numbers I can still appreciate their application and success in this instance. The singers are talented and the music fuses with the story and adds a very typical musical feel, meaning that characters break into song not only to express their feelings but to move the story along as well. It’s an ambitious change in direction for the Monster High franchise but I think it works well.

Another notable addition to this movie in particular and something which may or may not become a trend is showing not just one but two parents this time around. During the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con panel one of the questions asked of the creators was would we get to see our ghouls’ parents? And it seems as though that note was taken under advisement as Madam Ptolemy and Ramses become only the second and third parents shown in a Monster High movie. Thus far we have only seen Robecca Steam’s father so it was a nice change to see more adults and how their relationships with their kids influence the stories we’re being told.

Technical specs are in keeping with what’s become expected in the most recent Blu-ray additions to the Monster High franchise. The video is a 1080p High-Definition Widescreen 1.78:1 transfer with a palette focusing on darker shades of greens, golds, and black. The animation seems to be at a plateau for now and it’s light years from where it was in the beginning of the releases but also not up to the standards of a studio which throws tons of money at their animation projects like Pixar or Disney. Still, the target audience will not find any complaints here or on the audio side of things. A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track in English with two 5.1 DTS Digital Surround tracks in French and Spanish are the options. And in a musical the audio needs to be on point and these tracks more than hold their own with a nicely rich soundscape.

Monster High: Boo York, Boo York (Blu-ray) comes with three special features. Numbers one and two are different copies of the film in the form of an Ultraviolet Code and a DVD copy as well. There is a 45 minute episode of Monster High sister show Ever After High, which deals with the sons and daughters of fairy tale characters. There is a little teaser at the end of the Monster High: Boo York, Boo York credit sequence, showing Astranova speaking with two Ever After High students, possibly hinting at a future crossover between the two series or giving a nod to the special feature.

Taking into account the bold new direction of the franchise paired with the staples of our regular stable of ghouls accompanied with the introduction of some new characters all adds up to a success for me. While it’s not clear whether or not this musical foray is a one off in terms of the Monster High legacy it still works both as a standalone movie and as an entry into this world. I think fans of the series will find plenty to enjoy and as long as newbies understand the musical element is so far contained within this one movie alone it also can serve to introduce new viewers to the Monster High ghouls. The theme of being true to yourself is consistent and something which continues to impress parents.

THE VERDICT

These ghouls definitely took a bite out of the big city.

Tech Specs
Monster High: Boo York, Boo York (Blu-ray) 2015, Universal,72 minutes, NR (2015)
VIDEO: 1.78:1, 1080p AUDIO: DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English), DTS 5.1
Surround (French), DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
SUBTITLES: English SDH, French, Spanish EXTRAS: Featurettes,  DVD/Digital Copies ACCOMPLICES: IMDb, Official Site, Facebook Page

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