Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal/ Noah Johnston [Young Mike]) is finally attending Monster’s University on his road to making his dream come true of becoming a scarer. But before he can achieve his goal he must make it through the scarer program led by legendary scarer Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren). Upon the final exam, Mike and Sully (John Goodman) – a jock who relies heavily on his name to pass through school – rivalry become too much to bear than Dean Hardscrabble decides to eject both from the program. The last resort for Mike and Sully is to win the Scare Games with the underdogs. Now Mike and Sully have to beat adversity in order to remain on the path to become true scarers.
After many years of rumors and waiting for a true sequel the ever popular Pixar film Monster’s Inc., we get a prequel instead that for the most part it covers the background of Mike and Sully. However, I must note that a continuity issue was introduced, meaning that both Sully and Mike did not know each other since the 4th grade, as previously implied in Monster’s Inc. Sure, Pixar had some answers for the fans that questioned this move, but for the most part I will say that it worked great for the prequel. This little inconvenient fact did not truly affect the film in a negative way in fact it helped the viewers see how the relationship between Mike and Sully truly started and evolved through the film.
The plot of Monster’s University focuses on the relationship between Mike and Sully. The story details the first time that Mike and Sully meet (continuity issue was previously mentioned in the last paragraph) and we get to see how the relationship between them evolve throughout the film. In between we find new characters and story arcs to help build a proper story. However, with the audience knowledge of how the pair of friends ends up in the future, there lies the biggest road bump for this prequel. We go in knowing what the future lays so whatever story arcs get developed now have to in some form mold the characters for what lies ahead. Monster’s University doesn’t suffer from over complicated plot, but it does suffer from the shadow of its predecessor. This very fact doesn’t make Monster’s University a bad film; it just simply doesn’t quite reach the same levels that Monster’s Inc. has achieved. If anything Monster’s University has its own strengths, equally compelling messages, and of course its flaws, but it’s far from being bad, in fact it is a very entertaining family film. We can argue on whether or not the technique of knowing the future before telling the back story worked for the Monster Universe, but the fact remains the same, Monster’s University is a victim of well its own universe. Technically speaking the film looks fantastic, perhaps one of Pixar’s best to date no doubt about it. Perhaps my expectations where set too high, but it’s impossible for the comparisons not to brought up. At the end the film is enjoyable and entertaining in its own right.
Monster’s University arrives on Blu-ray with a beautiful 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode. The image is clean and very pristine offering the best for this digital transfer. The film looks phenomenal from beginning to end. The wide array of colors that pass through the screen are nothing short of excellent. Pixar really knows how to balance out the color palette, considering there are many very bright colors bouncing on the screen constantly, but there’s always a good balance. Nevertheless, it’s pure eye candy. The black levels are deep and inky and do not overwhelm the picture, if anything there’s excellent scenes with great lighting in the dark at various points in the film. Detailing is fantastic! Just looking at the vast character lineup and you’ll see the different textures of each character, the fur on many look almost real specially when close ups of Sully appear on the screen where you can pick out many individual strands of hair. Likewise for the surroundings and environment in the film, the level of effort is noticeable across the picture and the details are not hard to see. The good news surrounding Monster’s University is that there are no signs of banding or any other video anomaly that would hinder the quality of the transfer. The 2D version of the film looks simply stunning.
The 3D version is just as good as the 2D version, except you have the 3D aspect that adds to the fun. The 3D effects on this release are excellent; the picture adds a great sense of depth all around. There is always a sense of space in between objects and characters. There’s no signs of ghosting. The rest of picture is identical to that of the 2D version with vibrant colors and excellent detailing. This is one of the best 3D titles out there!
Monster’s University arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio track. For the most part Pixar and Disney delivered with this audio track, it’s not the best but they certainly have delivered the goods. The dialogue is crystal clear with perfect directionality across the fronts. Dynamic range is spot on. The rears offer great support and the LFE output is accurate. There are several moments in the film where the track really puts the hardware to work. Luckily, there are no anomalies with the audio reproduction, Disney did a good job with the track and they delivered the goods!
Audio Commentary – Featuring Director Dan Scanlon, Producer Kori Rae, and Story Supervisor Kelsey Mann.
The Blue Umbrella
Welcome to MU
Color and Light
Paths to Pixar: MU Edition
Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective
Monster’s University was the long rumored sequel of sorts and it didn’t fully disappoint the masses. Sure, it didn’t reach the heights of Monster’s Inc., which in the end I feel that it placed unnecessary pressure on the filmmakers. Monster’s University is entertaining on its own and it was a firm entry to the Monster’s universe in its own right. Technically speaking, Monster’s University looks fantastic; I will dare say it has raised another bar in the visual department. The audio was great too, but I know Disney can do better, however, don’t be disappointed because I wasn’t. There are plenty of supplements available to watch specially the Blue Umbrella short film that is a must see. Again, Monster’s University is a fine animated film perfect for the whole family. Pixar fans should definitely pick up this title!