Movie Review: Monster University

Pixar is back! I was so excited to watch Monster University at a special advance screening hosted by Walt Disney Studios Philippines last Saturday at SM Megamall since I’m a fan of the first film. Like a new student applying for the university’s Scaring program, is it worth enrolling?

Opening the film is the 6-minute short film The Blue Umbrella. It’s the story of two umbrellas – one blue, one not falling in love amidst the rain in a singing city. As expected of the Pixar shorts standard, it doesn’t fail to impress.  With delightful music and photorealistic visuals, it’s an adorable and simple love story with no dialogue in the likes of last year’s Paperman. I wouldn’t be surprised if it does get nominated for Best Animated Short in the Oscars this year.

Back in 2001, Pixar Animation Studios introduced the story of two monsters, top scarer James P Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) and his best friend Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) in Monsters Inc. They are an inseparable pair but in this prequel, we learned that wasn’t always the case. From the moment these two monsters met they couldn’t stand each other. Monsters University unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

It’s great to hear the voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman back together as Mike and Sully. Like in the first film, their fantastic chemistry is undeniable especially when they argue and banter. It wouldn’t be the same if they were recast.

Before watching the film, I forgot to check the voice cast of the new characters so I stayed during the ending credits to find the actress who voiced the creepy Dean Hardscrabble. She was voiced by Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren. I was very impressed by her perfectly chilling voice and how well the character was portrayed – sinister yet graceful and reserved. My other favorite character additions include five-eyed jelly-like monster Scott “Squishy” Squibble voiced by Peter Sohn and his mother voiced by Julia Sweeny. They both get moments of pure laughter. It’s also nice to see how Mike and Steve Buscemi’s Randall evolved from being friendly roommates to enemies. This is an instance of the fun in prequels which is finding the character and object references from its predecessor. Without giving any spoilers, you will find other familiar faces too.

I also appreciate the impressive attention to details on its world such as the Scare lessons, fraternities, sororities and the University’s Scare Games which reminded me why I have always enjoyed the world of Harry Potter. In terms of the storyline, it may not be as masterful or innovative as the past Pixar films but it has enough fun and heart to appeal to all ages. I enjoyed the movie all throughout. Pixar’s last attempt for a sequel in Cars 2 and last year’s Brave were both disappointments while this one is surely an improvement.

To 3D or not to 3D? 3D effects are minimal but it’s bright and colorful. Personally, I won’t require you to see this in 3D but if you’re a fan of the format then go see it in 3D.

Overall, it’s one of the better movies to come out in a season of blockbusters. Kids and adults will have a fun time attending Monsters University!

Opening across the Philippines on June 26 in Disney Digital 3D, 2D and regular theaters, “Monsters University” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.


About the movie reviewer:

Orange Magazine TV‘s newest film critic is a self-confessed movie geek. John Albert Villanueva love movies so much, he watch every movies from the big screen and collects DVDs of classic movies.

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