In its prequel to the 2001 hit Monster’s, Inc, Pixar brings us back into the world of the lovable monsters Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan, aka “Sulley,” with Monster’s University. A continuation of the Monsters, Inc. franchise had been in the works since as far back as 2005, when Disney decided to make a sequel with its own computer animation group, Circle 7 Animation instead of Pixar. After Disney’s acquisition of Pixar later that year, it was decided to shelve the project until 2010 when Pixar announced that rather than making a sequel to the film, their fourteenth feature animation film would in fact be its first ever prequel. Monsters University was released theatrically on June 21st, 2013 and is now available for purchase on Blu-ray 3-D, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download.
Even though we know Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) as best pals in Monster’s, Inc., we see that things were not always so friendly back in their college days at Monsters University. In fact, at their time at school, Mike and Sulley become fierce competitors in their fight to prove themselves as true ‘scarers.’ While Sulley has the inherent ability to be scary, and Mike has an abundant amount of book smarts and strategy, they find that to really go far they must work together as a team to meet their full potential.
Along the way, Mike and Sulley find themselves in a fraternity, Oozma Kappa, made up of less-than-scary monsters who provide comic relief and help the main characters in their goal to become professional ‘scarers.’ Mike and Sulley, along with the other members of Oozma Kappa, Don, Terri & Terry, Squishy, and Art, take part in the Scare Games, a competition in which the different fraternities and sororities on campus compete in a series of challenges. It’s here that the friends learn to utilize their strengths and help each other become the ‘scarers’ they strive to be.
To say that Monsters University is flawed in its Blu-ray presentation in any way would be heresy. Pixar has a reputation of releasing flawless transfers of its films to home video and this disc continues the tradition. The color jumps off the screen every chance it gets whether it be from the light blue color of “Sulley” or the deep, dark purple on newcomer “Art.” If the characters’ palette isn’t good enough, the Monsters University campus shifts in color from the bright spring days to the bleak fall/winter showing off how impressive the art design truly is. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix is just as impressive as the picture quality. The bass track rumbles during the loudest roars, while the main dialogue lines can be clearly heard even in scenes that are overcrowded with monster students. Between the audio and video, Monsters University is the type of film you use to show off your home theater equipment.
There is no shortage of special features to go along with Monsters University. A lot of the bonus material deals with the production of the film and most of the shorts are given a clever name that ties in to the Monsters University college world. On disc one, special features include the theatrical short that ran alongside the movie in theaters, The Blue Umbrella, as well as commentary from director Dan Scanlon, producer Kori Rae, and story supervisor Kelsey Mann.
Disc two offers ten different features on the making of Monsters University from the creative minds at Pixar. One stand-out is Campus Life, which is a day-in-the-life video from the perspective of the production team that shows what goes on in an average day while making the film, from meetings to lunch breaks to viewing dailies. Other highlights include Music Appreciation, which features Randy Newman scoring the film, and Paths to Pixar: MU Edition, a short in which Pixar employees share their stories of how they made it to their dream career after hardships, rejection and failure. Also included are deleted scenes, trailers, and art galleries.
Blu-ray special features include:
The Blue Umbrella, Audio Commentary, Campus Life, Story School, Scare Games, Monthropology, Welcome to MU, Music Appreciation, Scare Tactics, Color and Light, Paths to Pixar: MU Edition, Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective, Deleted Scenes, Promo Picks, Set Flythroughs, Art Galleries
Blu-ray Release: 4.5
For me, Monsters University was the perfect addition to the Monster’s Inc. franchise. It still has all of the humor that we expect from Mike and Sulley, now with even some new friends, and it also has the heartfelt emotion that goes hand in hand with almost every Pixar movie. Another thing that Pixar is known for is mixing adult-centered humor with jokes that appeal to the kids (grown-up kids included) watching. Monsters University is the perfect example of this – there are so many college-related jokes and references that would completely go over kids’ heads, but are just enough to round out the experience for anyone watching.
As far as the Blu-ray release I think once again Disney has done a great job of putting together bonus content and special features to complement the movie. In my opinion, the Blu-ray is totally worth it for the fantastic short film, The Blue Umbrella, that was shown before Monsters University in theaters. It is possibly one of the best pieces of computer animation that I have ever seen. When it comes to film-related special features, the mini-documentary-type video ‘Paths To Pixar – MU Edition’ is a great look at some of the Pixarians that worked on the film and how they found their way to Pixar. I think it’s great anytime we get to take a look into the unbelievably creative world at Pixar, so this was a real hit for me.
Blu-ray Release: 4.5
Monsters Inc. is one of my favorite Pixar films and that is a bold statement considering a lot of Pixar fans correlate choosing their favorite film with choosing their favorite child. Monsters Inc. has a ton of heart, a lot of laughs, and a perfect ending. I was extremely excited when I found out about Monsters University, and I would have to say that the film exceeded my low expectations. When comparing the last three Pixar films (Brave, Cars 2, Toy Story 3) to Disney’s previous three animated films (Wreck-It Ralph, Winnie the Pooh, Tangled) it could be argued that Disney Animation was finally taking a note out of Pixar’s book and making better films, with the exception of Toy Story 3. Despite not being the perfect prequel, Monsters University is extremely entertaining and a step in the right direction for Pixar.
As far as the Blu-ray goes, it is nearly perfect. The only thing that really holds it back is the movie itself. The audio and video is flawless and the special features are all extremely entertaining. While watching the shorts, I found myself wishing I could spend one day at Pixar to peek behind the scenes of their filmmaking process which is incredibly interesting judging from these features. The fact that Pixar has employees dedicated to making bonus material and then continues the dying trend of releasing a second disc of content really shows in this set. I would definitely recommend the Monsters University Blu-ray to fans of the film. To those who didn’t like the movie but love Pixar, I would still recommend the set for the bonus material alone.
Monsters University is now available in a Blu-ray 3-D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo Pack (MSRP $49.99), Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo Pack (MSRP $45.99) Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (MSRP $39.99), DVD (MSRP $29.99), and Digital Download (MSRP $19.99).