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MONSTERS UNIVERSITY ($46) is a charming and decidedly amusing prequel to the hit MONSTERS, INC., but I am not sure if the acquisition by Disney that put Pixar in the sequel/prequel business, or if they are running out of fresh material for their films. While I did like their last theatrical sequel, CARS 2, I did recognize that, that particular Pixar offering wasn't up to the studio's usually very high standards. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is definitely a better film than CARS 2, it too falls short of the benchmarks set by such films as THE INCREDIBLES, RATATOUILLE, WALL•E, UP or even a fantastic Pixar sequel... TOY STORY 3. Still, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is a family friendly delight to be sure... and a gorgeous looking computer animated film that provides a good share of chuckles, not to mention downright belly laughs.

Remembering back to the original MONSTERS, INC., we were introduced to James P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman), a big furry monster, who goes by the nickname Sulley and Sulley’s best friend Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal), who is a little round monster with a single eyeball that is half as big as his body. Both of our heroes worked for Monsters, Inc., the company responsible for producing energy for the monster realm... which it sourced from the screams of small children, out of whose closets the various monsters employed at Monsters, Inc. would appear. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY takes us back to the beginning, where Sulley and Mike meet for the first time... and where they don't become instantaneous friends. Where Mike has the all the technical knowhow to be a Scarer, he isn't particularly scary, on the other hand Sulley comes from a family on well known Scarers, he has a sense of entitlement... which makes Sulley lazy and ill-prepared for the coursework. Through a series of misadventures Sulley and Mike get on the bad side of Dean Abigail Hardscrabble (voiced by Helen Mirren), the chair of the Scarer program at Monsters University, and ultimately find themselves tossed out of the program. As a backdoor to get re-instated into the Scarer program, Mike enters the university's Scare Games with down and out fraternity Oozma Kappa... which prompts Sulley to likewise join Oozma Kappa, with hopes of also getting back into the program. The vocal talent behind also includes MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Steve Buscemi, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Peter Sohn, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Tyler Labine, John Krasinski, Bonnie Hunt, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, Julia Sweeney, Beth Behrs, Bob Peterson and John Ratzenberger.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (and Pixar) has made MONSTERS UNIVERSITY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Like other Pixar movies on Blu-ray, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY comes off the original digital files, so the 1080p presentation is pure high definition perfection. Featuring a largely autumnal color palette sprinkled with bright primaries, the digital image is bright, richly saturated and an utter feast for one's eyes. The visual design of MONSTERS UNIVERSITY places a strong emphasis on clarity, depth of field and fine detail, which this Blu-ray delivers in spades. Texture mapping of all the digital objects and characters is exemplary; especially the subtleties of Sulley's fur can be fully appreciated in this superb presentation. Color reproduction is beyond reproach. Blacks are utter perfection, and the whites are dead on. Contrast has all the range one should expect from images rendered in the digital realm. There is no grain or any imperfections in the image. Every frame of MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is as perfect as perfect gets, making for another demonstration quality Blu-ray from Disney and Pixar.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Like the visuals, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY delivers perfection in terms of its sonics. As expected, the sound design gets fairly aggressive when the on screen action ramps up, while still delivering a rich and rewarding experience during the quieter, story driven moments. Channel engagement is excellent, which provides a cohesive sonic environment that draws the viewer into the world of MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. Sound effects are effortless in their dizzy quest to pan and whiz around the soundstage. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is first rate, with Randy Newman’s music garnering the full benefit. The bass channel is deep and delivers the requisite rumble and impact. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. A French 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack, plus a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel is also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director/co-writer Dan Scanlon, producer Kori Rae and story supervisor Kelsey Mann. We also have the Theatrical Short THE BLUE UMBRELLA that accompanied MONSTERS UNIVERSITY in theaters. Disc two Featurettes and other programs include the following: Campus Life (fifteen minutes), Story School (nine minutes), Scare Games (five minutes), Monthropology (six minutes), Welcome To MU (six minutes), Music Appreciation (seven minutes), Scare Tactics (five minutes), Color And Light (five minutes), Paths To Pixar: MU Edition (eight minutes) and Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective (five minutes). Twenty two minutes of Deleted Scenes with director's introductions are also featured on disc two, as are fourteen minutes of Promo Picks and six minutes of Set Flythroughs. Five extensive Art Galleries close out disc two.  Disc three offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray. An authorization code is provided for a Digital Copy of the film, which is just a download away.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY may not be top of the line Pixar, but it is definitely a delightful and funny offering that will appeal to children and the inner child found in the rest of the family. Disney/Pixar's Blu-ray release is nothing short of the digital perfection we have come to expect from their releases. Highly recommended.


Monsters University (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) (2013)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2013 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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