I loved Monsters University when it came out. I found it to be a delightful addition to the Pixar canon and a very worthy prequel to Monsters Inc. Months later, I got the Blu-ray in the mail and the film was just as engaging and fun as the first time I saw it in theatres. And to top it off, it’s jam packed with incredible bonus features. A real treat.
The Film ★★★★
Monsters University is a prequel to the 2001 Pixar hit Monsters Inc and follows the story of Mike and Sulley as they attend university to pursue their dreams of become “scarers” (basically equivalent to rock stars in the monster world). Mike–a gangly, nerdy, ambitious, one-eyed monster–has been dreaming of attending MU since he was a wee lad; however, on the surface, he doesn’t seem to be scary enough and have what it takes to become a world-class scarer, so he turns to hard work and studying to make his dreams come true. James P. Sullivan, or Sulley, on the other hand, strolls into MU knowing that his studies will be a breeze since he comes from a famous pedigree of scarers.
This movie is fun for people of all ages. Particularly, people who have attended college will get a kick out of the clean college humor, references, and settings. The focus on Mike’s character, growth and development are a nice change, since the first Monsters film was more Sulley centric. New characters are introduced and featured too, which definitely add more layers to this film.
This film has an interesting and unexpected pace. As the first 30 minutes ramp up, you think that the film is going to end once a certain event takes place. That event comes and goes and then the middle of the film is focused on the Scare Games. Then you think the Scare Games will culminate the movie, but Pixar surprises you with another twist. This was refreshing because, at times, I thought the movie was getting predictable. I should have known better; Pixar films are anything but predictable.
While not my favorite Pixar film, Monsters University is a technical animation masterpiece and tells a great story. It works as a sequel because it explores a different facet of these
The Features ★★★★★
Wow. Pixar has always been the gold standard for bonus features, but they really outdid themselves this time. There are so many features on this Blu-ray that they had to include an entirely separate Blu-ray disc just to house all the features. Each feature was well produced and served a purpose in helping the viewer better understand the making of Monsters University.
The bonus features continued the college theme and were titled as you were picking from classes you wanted to take. It’s a small detail, it’s just one of many that makes Pixar’s Blu-ray releases great. The Blu-ray isn’t filled with any filler or canned features; every feature has a purpose to help enhance your understanding of the film. My favorite features are listed below:
- Audio Commentary – To me, it’s not a complete set of bonus features unless there is an audio commentary. We were delighted with a commentary by director Dan Scanlon and it is a much watch (more like listen)! You’ll learn interesting stories from production and get an insider view of what was going on in Scanlon’s brain as he was directing the film.
- Campus Life – Continuing with the insider view, this featurette was fun because we got to see what it’s like to be an employee of Pixar working on Monsters University. We hear experiences of different artists, visit dailies, and much more.
- Story School – Dan Scanlon walks us through the story creation process of the film. He talks about the challenges of creating a prequel and other. I loved seeing the gag session, where everyone gets together in a room and throws out their gags and funny ideas to use in the film. It’s a free-for-all, no-wrong-answers environment and seeing these creatives at work was a real treat.
- Music Appreciation – As a former orch dork, I love behind the scenes and look at the music for films. Here we join Randy Newman as he conducts the recording session of Monster University‘s score with both a 105-piece orchestra and a college drumline. We also get some interviews with him as he discusses his creative process in creating the score, themes and other aspects of the music.
- Color and Light – Before any animation is done, the color experts creating the color profile for each scene. I loved learning how these artists don’t do a detailed painting, but rather thickly block out colors and shapes. Then we see how Pixar takes these color profiles and converts them into the final film.
- Deleted Scenes – Four separate scenes – “Rivalry,” “Recon,” “Movie Night,” and “Drama Class” – are highlighted with an introduction from director Dan Scanlon. I love looking at the MU that could have been. These scenes are fun to watch and make you appreciate the final product.
- Set Flythroughs – Probably one of the most interesting and unique features on the disc. We get to travel through a large chunk of the Monsters University sets sans characters. So you can just enjoy the set and ambiance, without being distracted by characters and action. It was actually quite peaceful and a real delight to watch.
Also included is the short The Blue Umbrella, which played before Monsters University. In Scare Games we get to see the Pixar crew in their own version of the Scare Games on the Pixar campus; Welcome to MU talks about all the details that go into creating the sets and architecture of Monsters University and the monsters world; Scare Tactics shows focuses on the animators and how they channel their inner-monster to bring these characters to life. Paths to Pixar continues the theme of the movie and shows a variety of Pixarians who took somewhat untraditional and obstacle-ridden routes to get to the studio. Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective takes you back in time to the first Monsters film and you see the challenges they had developing fur and how the process has evolved. Additional features include Promo Picks, College Campaign, Theatrical Campaign, and an Art Gallery.
Winner winner chicken dinner! Pixar has done it again! Not only did the studio make one of this year’s better animated films, but it released probably one of the best Blu-rays to date! There is so much on this Blu-ray that even the most hardcore of Pixar fans won’ t have anything to complain about.
Monsters University is a must-buy for any Pixar and animation fan!
Monsters University 4-disc 3D Blu-ray Ultimate Collector’s Edition | 3-disc Blu-ray Collectors Edition | 2-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack | DVD | Digital