"Pixar is one of those studios who seemingly can do no wrong, their brand of ‘children’s-films-for-adults-too’ has done them well"
Pixar is one of those studios who seemingly can do no wrong, their brand of ‘children’s-films-for-adults-too’ has done them well and behemoth smash hits like ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘The Incredibles’ have done well commercially and critically. Naturally this leads to the studio having to overcome the hype and deliver; this is always especially hard with sequels. ‘Monsters Inc.’ was released 12 years ago and ‘Monsters University’ tries to capture that imagination and visual excellence of the box office hit, does it succeed? Kind of.
Our favourite cyclops Michael "Mike" Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and scary but fluffy James P. "Sulley" Sullivan are back, but this time around it’s not a buddy comedy. Mike and Sulley both get into Monsters University and it’s illustrious and coveted ‘Scarer Program’. Mike gets into the program through hard work and determination, even though he’s not the scariest guy in the world whereas Sulley whose prestigious family name and terrifying demeanor guarantees him a spot. It’s obvious these guys are going to butt heads and they do so in spectacular fashion due to the prequel nature of the film, there’s no malice between their rivalry and therefore not a lot of tension.
Where the film shines is through its minor characters, Sulley and Mike eventually get themselves thrown out of the Scarer Program leading to them to band together with a group of monster outcasts. The middle age leader Don Carlton (Joel Murray) plays the lovable middle-aged monster that eventually helps the others to utilize their strengths and ignore their weaknesses. Helen Mirren is a welcome addition to the cast as the genuinely terrifying Dean Hardscrabble and provides some much needed terror, as Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi) isn’t the sneaky villan that he portrays in Monsters Inc. yet.
What the film ultimately lacks in heart, in Monsters Inc. the audience felt genuinely scared for Mike, Sulley and Boo and it created a storyline that was complex and rich. Monsters University has some fantastic moments and looks great in comparison to the 2001 adventure, it feels like Pixar was relying on the hype to tell the story and was going through the motions. A fine movie but it should have been scarily good.