MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013) : REVIEW

June 21, 2013



"If you’re not scary, what kind of a monster are you?"
It takes 12 years to make a prequel for something that was incredibly dear for people in my age. Question is : Why? It's peculiar, expecially with the time span; why not a sequel exactly? More point added, a prequel is (mostly) a promise of catastrophe, even in the name of Pixar. But, how can we deny that we miss it and actually super excited to see the duo back? My expectancy was obviously high, because it's one of Pixar's after all (who's not a big fan of its predecessor 2001's Monster Inc and other Pixar's hits like Up, Toy Story, Cars, Wall-E and Finding Nemo?!). So, really, what did I feel during 110 minutes of sitting in the theatre with bunch of screaming and super excited kids??

Opened by a short (gorgeous) film of Saschka Unseld's "The Blue Umbrella", telling a story about a minority blue umbrella who fell in love with a pretty red umbrella, facing so many obstacles after being flown by a wind, all with the help of drainage, a mailbox & friends. Then, the story began as we met kindegarten Mike Wazowski who was taking a fieldtrip to Monster Inc. headquarters and caused quite a scene when he 'accidentally' got in to one of the door and facing a real human child. From there and then, Mike was determined to get in to Monsters University a.k.a MU and be a scarer. Short story short, Mike (Billy Crystal), now a teenager, managed to be one of MU's freshmen. He took the infamous Scaring Major and was quite impressive for a book-memorizer student, until James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) came along and be the 'star' of the class. Feeling a little bit competitive after being told that he wasn't fit to be a scarer (as well as being a major laugh-off), Mike then had a 'roaring' face-off with Sulley, until an accident occured that made both of them off of Scaring Major for good. Upset he was, Mike then decided to compete in the Scare Games, picking the worst team of all, the dorkiest fraternity in the campus, Oozma Kappa. Their challenges? To run among poisonous glowing puffs, to grab a flag quietly without the 15-metres librarian with tentacles knowing, to avoid teenager cardboards in a scaring maze, and then for the finale : a scaring simulation. A surprises occured as Sulley decided to join the team, facing 4 other featured fraternity/sorority : Jaws Theta Chi (JOX), Slugma Slugma Kappa (EEK), Eta Hiss Hiss (HSS) and the most popular one, Roar Omega Roar (ROR). The stake? Mike must win the game in order to prove his mean dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) wrong and to earn his place back at the Scaring Major. But, if he loses, he will leave MU for good.

Dan Scanlon's pre-Monster Inc was peculiar. But, it's undeniable that Pixar most likely offers the most stunning and vivid animation your eyes have ever seen. MU's CGI and special effects were rich with the pop of candy-colored sets and the fury monsters themselves. I didn't watch it in 3D and I thought the 2D was good enough because the richness definitely helped. I also love how Scanlon presented the university life as realistic as it can be; from the dorm room, the campus, the fraternities, all of it. It almost felt like happily colored Hoghwarts with their own Severus Snape (ehm Hardscrabble).

Now, what I don't understand here is the target audience. MU is rated G, but I don't think children will understand the college-like jokes, though I am quite sure they laughed over the cute-unscary monsters' demeanor. And the rivalry; I understand that it's hard to make something that everybody has known about, but here in MU, Sulley-Mike's rivalry felt so shallow it hurt. Remember X-Men : First Class? It's a prequel, but somehow they succeeded on making Professor X-Magneto's friendship-turns-into-enemies formula, considering that everybody knows that they're a mortal enemy to each other. I can say now that MU offers more to familiarity than originality in terms of what-we-don't-know-about-them and the before-the-event-occured. Also, it's a little bit cliche to add some 'underdog' aspect to the story, very typical indeed. I feel that this movie is more like a character study. I also understand the intention of making this movie as light as possible for general audiences but still delivers some emotional manners and gags, but it's lacking everywhere it felt dull. No matter how fast-paced this movie was intended to be, it somehow felt slow to me.

The only thing that was awesome besides the visual was the score. Randy Newman's scores were preppy, intentional, blaring, without losing the purposes. Every little sounds were precisely calculated, delivering the purpose well. Also, I love the post-credit scenes; I think it was slightly better than the whole movie itself. It was fun, intriguing and captivating. Do not leave the theatre yeat you lazy-ass!

I'm loving the performances here. Crystal portrayed Mike well; the determination that shown not only from the big sympathetic eye but also from the voice. It was like he was saying "I'm here because I can, not only because I dream to be." As for Goodman : a very well indeed. He managed to stay loyal to Sulley's old character : a big furry jerk who somehow lovable. And a snobby; "You don't have to study scaring, you just do it." Surprising performance came from Helen Mirren : boy was she scary! Her tone-depth and intentional glares were creepy and intimidating. And that sickening insect body .. As for the members of the rest of OK and ROR crews : they were okay. "I'm okay just being OK." You know what I mean? Probably not. Whatever.

Finally said, MU was good, but not great. I don't know why Pixar has lost its well-crafted emotional magics since Cars 2 & Brave. And now this. I really hope that they'll make a comeback with Finding Dory in 2015. Recommended? Well I can't say no, really. IT'S PIXAR. There, I said it. And it was entertaining, so nothing to lose.




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