Disney's sequelization of Pixar properties made its way to the world of Monsters Inc. this summer, allowing audiences to discover how Mike and Sully met at Monsters University.
Ever since he was a young monster, Mike (Billy Crystal) dreamed of being a scarer. This leads him to Monsters University. Mike studies hard and is clinical in his approach to scaring, which puts him at odds with some monsters, like James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman), who coasts on his natural ability and family name. Though we know they'll be great friends, their differences cause quite a clash of personalities. So much so, their fighting gets them kicked out of the scaring program. The only way back in is for the rivals to work together as members of the Oozma Kappa fraternity, a group of nerdy, misfit monsters, in the the university's Scare Games.
I thought Inc. was a good picture but not one of the upper-tier Pixar films, and have the same opinion of University. It will likely be more appealing to younger children, but I was slightly disappointed by its overly familiar college storyline of outcasts having to stand up for themselves against the perceived cool kids. It brings to mind films like National Lampoon's Animal House, Breaking Away, and with the Scare Games competition, Revenge of the Nerds. Yet even though we know how the characters end up, there are still some good plot twists throughout.
The video has been give a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 1.85:1. The picture is gorgeous thanks mainly to the vibrant pastels that populate the film's color palette. Blacks are rich and inky. The image offers great contrast and well-defined depth, adding a bit of realism to his unrealistic world. Also, the variety of well-rendered textures on creatures and locations is impressive. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 offers an immersive experience. Dialogue is clear and positioned throughout the front speakers. Randy Newman's score filled the surrounds as does the ambient effects, which move through channels when required. The elements are well balanced together.
Extras accompanying the film are a joint commentary with director Dan Scanlon, producer Kori Rae, and story supervisor Kelsey Mann. They offer a lot insight into the film's creation. Also, the short “Blue Umbrella” (HD, 7 min). Visually stunning in its photorealism, the story finds a blue umbrella falling in love with a red umbrella during a rainstorm. In addition to the short's outstanding appearance, the creativity seen in the number of inanimate things brought to life is equally awesome.
The Collector's Edition comes with an additional Blu-ray filled with extras, a DVD, and a Digital Copy. The second disc of extras includes featurettes that explore what different Pixar departments worked on from character design to the use of light and color and creating CGI fur. There's a look at the recording of Randy Newman's score at Sony Studios.
Possibly because the film is about Mike and Sulley working towards what they would become we get a feautrette focusing on the crew members talking about what they did and what they wanted to do before landing at Pixar. We also see them at work and participating in team-building activities on the campus.
There's four Deleted Scenes (HD, 21 min) seen in storyboards with a Director Intro (HD, 1 min); promotional material, the best of which might be the Japanese Trailer (HD, 2 min); and an amazing look at how richly detailed four locations are during Set Flythroughs (HD, 6 min). There's an extensive interactive Art Gallery that presents work on characters, color keys, development art, environments, and graphics.
Monsters University offers a pleasant though not essential return to the world of Mike and Sulley that the family can watch together. The high-def presentation is marvelous to experience and for those who want to learn more about how the film was created, there's plenty of extras to satisfy.