Pixar has not quite delivered fantastic films since 2011. “Cars 2” was an abysmal and annoying film featuring Larry the Cable Guy’s character, Mater, as the main character. It got better last year with the Oscar-winning animated film “Brave,” which was a decent effort from Pixar as it took the traditional Disney formula and put it on its head. “Monster University” is a prequel to “Monsters Inc” that takes us back to the beginning of Sulley’s and Mike’s friendship.
Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) is a hard-working, small one-eyed green monster who has dreamed of becoming the world’s greatest scarer. James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) is a large furry blue beast who comes from a family of famous scarers and doesn’t think he needs to study to become a good scarer. When they meet, Mike and Sully become instant rivals as they try to outdo each other in order to prove that they are scary. After intense argument, the duo finds themselves kicked out of the scare program by the intimidating head of Monsters University, Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren). In order to find a way to get back in the scare program, they make a wager with Hardscrabble. If their fraternity of ragtag misfits of Oozma Kappa (OK) wins the Scare Games, an series of Olympic-like games, Hardscrabble will admit Mike, Sully and the Oozma’s into the Scare School. However, if they lose, Mike and Sully will be kicked out of Monsters University.
“Monsters University” is more or less a family-friendly version of “Revenge of the Nerds” with a group of misfits trying to overcome the odds. As prequels will do, the film makes a couple of callbacks to its predecessor including the reintroduction of some of the characters from “Monsters Inc.” Crystal and Goodman are still in fine form as Mike and Sully as they are great here as they were twelve years ago when they were making “Monsters Inc.” duo on the screen as Mike and Sulley. The movie also introduces moviegoers to a batch of new characters who are charming and have respectable arcs. You can tell from the movie’s visual artistry and craftsmanship how much effort the filmmakers poured into this film to fully develop the world of “Monsters University.” However, this movie does not surpass the storytelling quality and originality of “Monsters Inc.” Even though the main purpose of this film was to show the evolution of Mike’s and Sully’s friendship, the movie felt like it did not live up to its full potential compared to its predecessor.
“Monsters University” is at the head of the class in terms of delivering a stunning video presentation. Pixar always delivers when it comes releasing their films on Blu-ray. “Monsters Inc” was made twelve years ago and the film still looks great. With the advancement of technology since then, “Monsters University” is a visual improvement. The colors look vibrant and the texture is incredible, along with a great level of detail showcased via this Blu-ray’s fantastic video quality as the fur and scale on each monster is masterfully rendered.
As part of Disney’s M.O., “Monsters University” is jam-packed with a ton of bonus features spread across two Blu-rays. Disc 1 features Pixar’s latest gorgeously animated short “Blue Umbrella,” a sweet love story between two umbrellas and an audio commentary track with director Dan Scanlon, producer Kori Rae and story supervisor Kesley Mann. Disc 2 has 10 featurettes that an in-depth look on how this movie was made from creating different monsters to how the filmmakers used lighting and color to help with structure and tone. The best among them is “Campus Life,” which gives viewers a peak what goes on an average day while making the film.
While it isn’t able to rise out of its predecessor’s shadow, “Monsters University” is a funny prequel that is the step in the right direction for Pixar. There are some great gags and references that viewers might miss when they watch the movie for the first time. The Blu-ray not only has a perfect video presentation, but it also has a great set of bonus materials.