Gofre Reviews: Monsters University

A technology blog, kicked off by a review of a children’s film. Off to a great start, eh? I figured I may as well get any content I write onto this site as and when I finish it, and this took precedence. A big thanks to Nik, editor at The Student Room, for getting me into this press screening.

There’s techy stuff to come this week, promise.

When approaching this review I was faced with a conundrum. Up until now all of my reviews for TSR had been for gory video games. How do I review a movie, and a kid’s movie at that? Luckily Pixar made it a bit easier by crafting a funny, enjoyable watch with lots of good stuff to talk about.

The movie tells the story of how Mike and Sulley (and a few other members of the previous cast) came to meet each other as college freshmen, and surprisingly they didn’t exactly hit it off at first. Mike is introduced as an ambitious little monster pursuing his dreams to be a professional Scarer, studying his way into the prestigious Monsters University to major in Scaring despite his diminutive stature. Sulley is practically the opposite of this, making his way into the school through natural talent and a family legacy despite having no desire to do any studying the theory work, and the clash of personalities quickly creates a pair of bitter rivals. However the two soon find themselves thrown together in a fight to keep their places at the school, with the help of a few misfits.

There were questions around whether or not a prequel was really necessary for the Monsters Inc world. There weren’t really any mysteries presented that needed answering and the first movie worked fantastically as a self-contained story. In this sense Monsters University doesn’t do much to change that, but that doesn’t stop it being a great story of its own. It’s something that fans of the original are sure to enjoy, and makes a great introduction for those who were nothing more than a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when it came out over a decade ago. As with everything Pixar, it’s a visual treat, even more vibrant and colourful than the original, and the voice acting and overall storyline are fantastic, with the original cast reprising their roles in the case of every recurring character and bolstered by the likes of Oscar winning Helen Mirren taking on the role of the Scaring School’s dean. The film is a lot more light-hearted than the original, leaning much more closely to a classic college comedy caper with frat parties and the stealing of rival mascots. There are elements of risk involved, but nothing on the scale of threats of banishment and vicious children loose in the Monster world! Coupled with traditional Pixar themes of embarking on adventures, overcoming adversity and building of friendships along the way, the result is an family movie that will be enjoyed whether it’s your first outing into the Monsters universe or just returning to it nostalgically.

However there are a couple of slight pitfalls. The lack of real peril does stop Monsters University from having the emotional grab that a lot of Pixar’s previous outings have had around our heartstrings, and the volume of stereotypes exclusive to the American college experience may drop the appeal for some people (It’s also totally unrealistic, not once does anybody wake up after drinking so much that they don’t remember the night before!), but these are minor quibbles when the movie succeeds in doing what it says on the tin, delivering a laugh a minute and reuniting us with some of our favourite Pixar characters. In short, Monsters university gets a hearty thumbs up!

As a final note, a special word has to go out to Pixar’s traditional short film that preceded the film, entitled the Blue Umbrella, if only for the animation work. It’s visually stunning, easily the most realistic piece of computer animation I’ve ever clapped eyes on. At points I was doubting the honesty of the director when he told us it was entirely CGI. The story is cute and the soundtrack is great, it’s six of the best minutes of the film!

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