NO. 14 – Monsters University (2013)
DIRECTOR: Dan Scanlon
If there’s one thing nobody really expected Pixar would attempt to do, a prequel wouldn’t be low on the list, especially a prequel to what many deem to be one of their best films. Also, weren’t there parts in the teaser for the original and the original itself where Sully tells Mike about how he spent time passing notes to a girl in the fifth grade, and where Mike tells Sully that he (Sully)’s been jealous of his looks since fourth grade? Bizarre decisions and continuity errors aside, how does Monsters University fare on its’ own? Pretty darn good, actually. Okay, it isn’t exactly great and it definetely doesn’t top the original (not that anyone was expecting it to do so), but it’s time we truly start to delve into it. Ever since a fateful elementary school field trip, Mike Wazowski has devoted his life to becoming a professional Scarer for Monsters Inc. Eleven years later, his dream is closer than ever to becoming a reality when he becomes a student for Monsters University. There, he meets his future best friend (I mean, come on, that isn’t really a spoiler) and one of the “jocks” of the university, James “Sulley” P. Sullivan. The two start off on rather rocky terms, and it escalates to the point where an incident results in the both of them failing the semester’s final exam. However, a sheer miracle shines through for them in the form of the “Scare Games”, the only problem being that they’re competing against the university’s strongest fraternity Roar Omega Roar, and that the fraternity they’re on, Ozma Kappa is…well, not the strongest by any means. Now with all odds against them, Mike and Sulley have to find a way to pull through, while also forming a strong bond in the process. With all of that out of the way, let’s get into what’s good. The animation (as to be expected from The Big P) is gorgeous, with the monsters having wildly creative and varied designs, along with some fine textures in terms of their fur, scales, horns, etc. The attention to detail that went towards the university is very impressive as well, as there are times where you’ll really feel like you’re at an actual college (expect with, y’know, monsters) more often than not. Heck, they even made a fake website that’s still up to this day! The development of the relationship between Mike and Sulley is also very well done, as they come to realize that while their obsession with trying to outdo each other has led them to their current situation, they can manage to work together along with Ozma Kappa to get out of it. Speaking of which, the other characters, both old and new, offer plenty of charm and likeability, the lovable misfits of Ozma Kappa being a shining example. In addition, the action sequences are fantastic, being exciting, fast-paced, and even a bit suspenseful at times, the Library scene and the climax being the most worthy of this notion. Now, let’s move on to the flaws. While the plot is executed in a satisfying manner, I won’t deny that it can be a bit slow at times, as a chunk of the plot is spent towards Mike and Sulley’s eventual friendship rather than the Scare Games. There’s also the problem that for a Pixar film, it can get suprisingly mean-spirited at times. I mean, just watch the final exam scene and the (SPOILER WARNING!!!) part where Sulley admits to Mike that he essentially helped him cheat without him knowing and you’ll see what I mean. Regardless, Monsters University is a perfectly good prequel that manages to stand on its’ own ground.