Friday, June 21, 2013

Media Screening Review: Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella!

Hi all! I just came back from a media screening of Monsters University at The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood! As a huge Monsters, Inc. fan I had high expectations for this prequel and I was not disappointed!

But before I get into my review for Monsters University, let's review the short in front of the movie, The Blue Umbrella!

The story here is very much along the lines of last year's Paperman from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. But with each Pixar short is a testing ground for improving the look and feel of their movies.
The goal with The Blue Umbrella was to increase the level of photo realism and this hit it out of the park. Take a look at the image above. You would be hard pressed to know this was fully animated if someone didn't tell you.
The short is so charming and full of heart like all the Pixar shorts and was a great way to get ready for Monsters University!

So, now  we get to one of my most eagerly anticipated films of the year, Monsters University!

Pixar has created their first prequel and they get the prequel right. I believe that the purpose of any prequel is to get one to forget about the original movie and most prequels are just not up to the task.

Not only does Monsters University add another layer to the Mike and Sulley story, but I think in many ways it is a better film than Monsters, Inc. is. Clearly the scale of Monsters, Inc. is huge compared to Monsters University but Monsters University brings into a world of a very real and surprising friendship. We already know that in the end Mike and Sulley will be friends for life but here we are presented with a touching story of how these two went from rivals, to very reluctant allies, to true friendship.
We start the film with little Mike Wazowski with his classmates on a field trip to Monsters, Inc. where Mike realizes that he can become a scarer! He commits his life to doing everything he can to attend Monsters University and become a top scarer!
We then jump to Mike's first day at, yep you guessed it, Monsters University! Mike is so passionate about becoming a scarer but just isn't scary. Sulley on the other hand has cruised through high school but in college he finds that he can't cut in the smarts department.

Eventually both Mike and Sulley have to join the rejects from the worst fraternity Oozma Kappa to win the Scare Games. The Scare Games were created by Dean Hardscrabble herself to test the best scare students. The Oozma Kappas are made up of the older Don, the space cadet Art, the twins Terri and Terry, and the young but eager Squishy. These frat brothers do not conjure up any ideas of confidence.
This is where Mike and Sulley really begin to work through their differences. This is where the film really begins to shine. Pixar's story team remembered that the audience that saw Monsters, Inc. has grown up and many of them have probably experienced these same life changes. The message here is clear, change is not to be feared but to be embraced. The best stories from Pixar come from real emotions and a chance to stop and reflect. Monsters University has a lot to say on how people change as they get older and how their relationships change without being preachy about it. The story flows from one segment to the next. In the end, you know Mike and Sulley are going to be best friends but the journey to get there is more heartfelt than one would ever expect.

Monsters University is a more than worthy follow-up to Monsters, Inc. If you are a fan of the first movie, you will love the second. You may even love the second more than the first like I do! This is a very welcomed addition to the Pixar library and now it's time to put on my favorite Monsters University cardigan and cheer for good old MU!

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