DisneyPixar’s first prequel plays around a little with the mythology of the Monsters (which is fully explained in the fine audio commentary), brings Mike Wazowski more to the forefront and ups the onscreen creature ante from about 25 to more than 250.
Many have opined that Monsters University cannot pack the emotional punch of its predecessor. Let’s face it, without an adorable little girl like Boo, the emotional is at least different if not as intense.
Mike is actually a more sympathetic character than Sully, who has had everything handed to him throughout life and learns that effort is necessary to really succeed. We also get a few origin stories, particularly focusing on creep-in-the-making Randall.
Too many recent animated features seem to have a checklist approach to the supporting characters, rehashing “types” rather than coming up with something new. Not so here, with such new friends as middle-aged Don, the kind of guy you might meet in night school.
The voice cast is, as always, impeccably cast with recognizable names chosen for what they bring to the characters and story, as well as the best Hollywood voice actors rounding out the ensemble.
Randy Newman’s score is a little different from what one might typically expect. There’s quite a bit of the college pep rally sound and a main theme that reminds me of John Williams’ theme to Steven Spielberg’s 1941.
Like the best Pixar Blu-ray packages, this one is loaded with superb extras, so much so that I have annotated the list. You can really get a feel for the creative process at the studio, minus the “look where we get to go” feeling that some other features seem to engender among those who will never trod in the same footsteps. Instead, the Pixar staff shows their human side in a way that is sure to affect many an aspiring, struggling person of any age. Even Don.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The Blue Umbrella (short)
Campus Life: Dan Scanlon and the staff in a typical day at Pixar during the making of Monster University
Story School: Very interesting examination of how the story for Monsters University was developed
Scare Games: Pixar employees play games as a group to get to know each other and create the atmosphere of the monster scare games
Monthropology: Examines the vast array of monster types that inhabit this film and how many more there are (by the hundreds) than there were in Monsters, Inc.
Welcome to MU: The archway that leads into the campus and overall set design of the film
Music Appreciation: Randy Newman, the orchestra and music team, speaking a language only musicians understand, create the musical score
Scare Tactics: The acting aspect of animation and how the animators paralleled the monsters learning their craft in the film
Color and Light: Meticulous details about how color and light are created to accent the characters and scenes
Paths to Pixar - Monster U Edition: Members of the film’s creative and administrative team talk about their first jobs, striuggles and failures that formed their journey of life and career, emphasizing that it’s never easy and the path is never clearly mapped out
Furry Monsters: A Technical Perspective How the monster hair creation developed over the years and an easy to understand look at how it was done for this film
Deleted Scenes: A staggering amount of very entertaining animatics for scenes that were great but just didn’t fit into the movie. I especially like the drama class skit.
Promo Picks: Original animated snippets that appeared as short promos
Set Flythroughs: First person camera-style journeys through the settings (sort of the like the opening shots of The Sound of Music). A really nice extra feature because you see so much more than was possible within the actual film
DVD Bonus Features
The Blue Umbrella (short)