Monday, July 8, 2013

REVIEW: Monsters University

Monsters University

Billy Crystal, John Goodman


June 21, 2013

Dan Scanlon


1 hour 50 minutes



It might be the summertime, but the school year at "Monsters University" is just beginning.  Serving as a prequel to the classic Pixar film "Monsters, Inc.," "Monsters University" depicts the rivalry turned friendship between James P, Sullivan, aka Sully, and Mike Wasowski during their freshman year at Monsters University, a college where the best scarers in the monster world learn how to be ferocious and terrifying to young human children.  As someone who wasn't the biggest fan of "Inc," but still really enjoy it, I have to say that I was looking forward to what Pixar had in store for audiences.  Sure enough, what they had was something hilarious, heartwarming, and overall a fantastic family movie.  After films like "Cars 2" and "Brave" disappointing audiences, "Monsters University" shows that Pixar still has the same magic that was able to give us "Up," "The Incredibles," and the "Toy Story" trilogy.

The fact that Pixar managed to get much of the star power from the original film, including Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buschemi, shows how much faith they put into this film.  Goodman and Crystal brought Mike and Sully back in their highest form, almost as if they haven't been away for 12 years.  Steve Buscemi's small role as Randall, or Randy in this film, is also great.  The newcomers to the film, including Nathan Fillion as a jock/fraternity leader at MU and Helen Mirren as the cold and somewhat sinister headmaster of the college, all deliver in their own way, whether it was geared towards a more evil approach or a more likable/comedic approach.  Comedic members of the newcomers to the "Monsters" series include Charlie Day, Joel Murray, and Aubrey Plaza, and they are all hilarious in their roles, whether they were small or rather large.  Either way, every voice in the film brings these vibrant and colorful characters to life in ways that even improve on the film's quality.

The animation in this film is comparable to "Toy Story 3," in which we, the audience are able to see our favorite nostalgic characters once more, only this time they look somewhat different thanks to the advances in technology over the past decade.  The characters in this film all look fantastic and engaging, and the animation in the film overall is a real feast for the eyes, especially in 3D, which I have to say looks superb.  Animated movies are usually the best films to see in 3D because of how great animation is in the third dimension, and "University" is no exception.  This may very well be the best use of 3D for Pixar since the double feature of the first two "Toy Story" movies back in 2009.  Even if you don't pay extra for the third dimension, the film as a whole is a real feast for the eyes.  A truly great animated movie must have a great story and script, however.  Luckily, 'Monsters University' has just that.

Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, and Dan Scanlon successfully manage to bring back these characters for a new generation, as well as put them in a setting that can be relatable, ala "Toy Story 3."  Other than Daniel Gerson's work on the original "Monsters, Inc," this was the first time for these writers to write an entire screenplay.  For first time screenwriters, these three men not only bring back so many nostalgic memories from the first film, but they also successfully connect both films in such a linear and smooth way that it almost feels as if these two films could be one big movie.  Director Don Scanlon also channels the directorial mind of Pete Doctor and tells such a great story that you never know when it's going to end.  And even when it does eventually end, you never want it to because of how damn good the film is.

"Monsters University" is as good, maybe even better, than its predecessor, or sequel for the matter, due to the fact that this is a prequel to "Monsters, Inc."  The movie is hilarious, heartfelt, and manages to tie in to the original film with such a linear flow.  Pixar proves that they still possess the magic to create such visceral and gorgeous worlds, as well as to tell a fantastic story that can please just about everyone.  The movie isn't original, as most films these days aren't, but that doesn't take away from just how fun this is to watch in a theater.  School might be out for the summer, but "Monsters University" is enrolling, and I think you'll really want to apply.


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