Entertainment :: Movies

Monsters University

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Thursday Oct 31, 2013
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Catching "Monsters University" on the big screen - especially in 3D, where prices skyrocket to as much as $20 per showing - was an exercise in inflated expectations. The whimsy of its predecessor carries through the film, mostly on the performances of Billy Crystal and John Goodman. But the plot is weak; and worse, repetitive. It’s the story of a bunch of misfit monsters who band together in an attempt to win a university contest (and self-esteem), led by the competing personalities of Mike Wazowski and James Sullivan. In the cinemas, the film felt a bit tired and overly stretched; not the kind of experience you’d prefer at that price. But in the Blu-ray comfort of your home, it’s a joy to experience and comes at the right price point.

The film is funnier than "Monsters Inc.," which will make the little ones squeal with delight. And from a diversity point of view, "University" has what the earlier film lacked: a nearly exhaustive supply of weird, unique, novel monsters (no more spying the same beasties from the scare floor in the restaurant in town). Special features are also entertaining, as always - especially some of the cut scenes, such as when Mike and Sully meet in grade school. And if the film can be delightfully compared with "Revenge of the Nerds," that’s ok: I’ll take nerdy monsters over nerdy people any day.

Special Features Included ::

• Campus Life - What’s it like being on a production crew at Pixar? Get a look at a day in the life of the "Monsters University" crew through their own eyes.

• Story School - This documentary examines the challenges of creating a prequel as well as themes that run through the story, and the change in focus from Sulley to Mike. We’ll also look at how gags are developed - from writing jokes to brainstorming a million ideas, only 5% of which actually end up in the movie.

• Scare Games - At Pixar, we play hard while we work. The same people who keep the film production moving - producers, managers, coordinators and artists - are also the ones who bring spirit and excitement to some of our extracurricular activities. We check out the MU production teams as they go head to head in the mostly playful Pixar Scare Games competitions.

• Welcome to MU - Sets aren’t just buildings, they are the worlds our characters live in and explore. This look at the Monsters University campus and its development is told from the perspective of the artists who created each piece of the campus from the architecture to the ivy leaves. .

• Music Appreciation - Randy Newman’s scores are a mainstay of Pixar films, and this documentary will give you a privileged look at his creative process. We follow the "Monsters University" scoring process from spotting to writing and on to the scoring session. including special college-themed recording sessions.

• Scare Tactics - Animators are actors who digitally bring the characters to life. In this look at how the MU animation team worked, you’ll see their process of how they channeled their own monster-selves and created moments on screen that were really funny, really scary and also really serious, sometimes all at the same time.

• Color and Light - How can a single painting set the tone for an entire scene? We’ll look at the creation of the colorscripts and how they were realized technically in the final film. Along with the process, this piece explores the many layers of technical innovation required to produce such a naturalistic feel.

• Paths to Pixar - MU Edition - When one door closes, sometimes another door opens - one with an even more exciting opportunity behind it. Members of the MU crew tell their own compelling backstories and share the challenges they overcame along their paths to Pixar.

• Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective - Explore the difficulties in creating characters that are 20 years younger with tools that are 10 years more advanced in this contrasting look at the differing technical challenges that arose when making "Monsters, Inc.," and "Monsters University."

• Deleted Scenes - Four separate scenes - "Rivalry," "Recon," "Movie Night," and "Drama Class" - are highlighted with an introduction from director Dan Scanlon.

• "The Blue Umbrella" - This animated short film from Pixar Animation Studios, directed by Saschka Unseld and produced by Marc Greenberg, played in theaters in front of "Monsters University." "The Blue Umbrella" tells the story of an evening commute in which the rain starts to fall and the city comes alive to the sound of dripping rain pipes, whistling awnings and gurgling gutters. And in the midst, two umbrellas-one blue, one not-fall eternally in love.

• Additional Bonus Features - Audio Commentary, Promo Picks, College Campaign, Theatrical Campaign, Set Flythroughs, Art Gallery and more!¬

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his husband and daughter in Dedham MA.

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