Mark at the Movies: Monsters University
Hey guys! It’s a been out for a while now but I finally managed to see Pixar’s recent flick Monsters University. When I first heard that Pixar was making a prequel to Monsters Incorporated I have to admit I was skeptical. Very skeptical. Ever since Cars 2 came out I’ve been worried that Pixar would start to lose its creative soul, that it would choose favor sequels (which are much less risky in terms of return on investment) over creating the kind of unique films we’ve seen them produce since their inception. Well I’m still worried about that (especially since I’ve heard they’re working on a sequel for Finding Nemo of all things). However if the sequels they produce are at the same level of quality as Monsters University then we’ll be in for a good time anyway. Monsters University is fun, creative, and well crafted.
One of the few benefits of working with a sequel (or prequel) is that the audience has already had time to become acquainted with the characters. Pixar uses this to full advantage, allowing the characters to drive the plot forward and fleshing out their backgrounds and motivations. The plot itself is a pretty straightforward college flick: losers mess up, losers enter big competition, losers learn to work together, losers become winners. However Pixar takes that generic college movie plot and expands on it, and even allows for a few surprises. The ending, in fact, is arguably a subversion of the classic formula and I found it very satisfying. Still even where the plot falls together as predictably as your average crime drama it works because the plot isn’t the main attraction. It’s the characters we came to see, and they certainly deliver.
The visuals were stunning, even by Pixar’s standards. Nobody does CGI like Pixar but they’ve really outdone themselves this time. Their opening short was so realistic that I had trouble believing it wasn’t real. I thought that they’d mixed the reels up and started the wrong movie. The short was so realistic, in fact, that when fantastical things began to happen it skirted the edge of the uncanny valley. Monsters University does not suffer from the same affliction, as the bright and colorful style of the monster world is different enough from our own to prevent creepiness. Still there is one scene involving the human world where again, just for a second, I could swear that it looked like actual footage of the outside. It is an impressive accomplishment that shows Pixar is still committed to pushing the technological and artistic envelope.
Altogether its a good movie and definitely worth a watch if you’re a Pixar fan.