I have been waiting for this day for so long. Finally another Pixar film along with the new short "Blue Umbrella"!The movie was beautiful, the 48 hour per frame render time really paid off!
There will be spoilers so here is a forewarning to be careful before reading!
Before getting into the movie, there are the trailers! There was the usual lineup with Planes, Despicable Me, Turbo, Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Frozen. Then there was a new one that I haven't seen yet and it is Free Birds by ReelFX. ReelFX is a vfx house and Free Birds will be their first animated feature film. I don't really know about this as when the trailer began it started off with a turkey talking about how they are just being fattened up and will be killed for Thanksgiving. I was like "What? This sounds a lot like Chicken Run" but then the trailer continues to show that the movies doesn't just stop there, instead the turkey will travel back in time to stop Thanksgiving in order to save all the lives of the turkeys. I don't know. I was so excited to see Frozen finally put out a trailer, thinking it was something new that I haven't seen before yet, but unfortunately it is just the teaser clip that has just emerged on the internet a few days ago with Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer. It's cute and funny, all the kids laughed at the ending with Olaf's head flying out trying to hold in a sneeze, but I myself was hoping for something more trailer-like of something that looks epic or with more sustenance. I still don't know what I feel about Turbo. Racing snails that sudden get super powers just don't really excite me that much. Planes I'm even more iffy on as first, it took me forever to even decide to go watch the first Cars movie and even then I thought it was decent while my favorite films were still Toy Story and Ratatouille (I didn't watch Cars until sometime in 2009 or 2010). The one thing that I did like about Planes is that it still contained similar characters from Cars and so it is like a continuous expansion of the same universe. The story of how a crop duster plane that wants to join in a race feels a bit similar to Turbo though.
Blue Umbrella. I loved the teaser clip when it was first released. I thought that the music was beautiful and the short interaction between the blue umbrella and the red umbrella was so cute and so sweet. While the full story was equally just as wonderful, what weretruly amazing about this short are the crowds and the rendering. In addition to the two colored umbrellas, there is a sea of normal black umbrellas and that means under each umbrella is a person holding it up as they rush about in the rain on a busy street in the city. For the style of this short, Pixar went photo real and it was photo real and ridiculously amazing. The city environment was extremely details and so exact and beautiful that I was wondering at one point if everything was in CG or if Pixar had started to use some live-action footage.
I'm not sure if it was due to being a prequel or if there were too many teaser clips released but the movie felt a bit predictable. The trailer clips, with the exception of the disco ball that was cut out from the film, were exact shots taken out of the film and shown. This was bad in a sense that I knew exactly what was going to happen and when it was going to happen with a few small surprises here and there. The movie was additionally predictable in that we already know that Mike and Sully have to band together and get along to finally become the top scare team in Monsters Inc. This was one thing that I really liked about Brave. Brave was extremely closeted and mysterious, I didn't know anything about the movie other than there was a fiery red headed Scottish girl who shoots arrows. Thus, I really liked the second "half" of the movie, after Mike and Sully won the Scare Games. It wasn't the clichéd ending with "yay, the underdogs somehow amazingly won and now everyone lives happily ever after" but instead we delve into the centers of the Mike and Sully and uncover their insecurities as they understand each other. I wish the movie could have centered more around this instead of all the fraternizing playing around at school just to build up to this point. What I feel greatly attributes to Pixar's successes in their movies is how they are really able to reach into the heart and center of the characters and convey and connect the emotions with the audience.
I loved how Pixar kept the same style with the 2D animation for the title sequence. It was nostalgic and still fit so perfectly well.
Little Mike was so adorable and I enjoyed every minute of him during the start of the movie as he finds his dream of becoming a scarer with the widest inspired smile ever. However, while he was the antagonist, I actually really like Randall from Monsters Inc, as I loved his design and camouflage just seemed like the best ability, and it was exciting to see how he came to be. I had thought that Mike and Sully started off becoming roommates, but in fact Mike roomed with Randall and the reason why Randall has such an evil squinty looking face was because he actually needs glasses and so without them he has to squint! While I wish that there could have been slightly more development we get to see how Randall will become Sully's rival in the future.
Monsters University was beautiful with a lush and vastly populated world. The textures were beautiful from skin and hair to scales and leather. The lighting was dynamic and expressive. I could really feel the lighting shifts in order to convey certain emotions in parts of the story. One of my favorite shots was when Mike and Sully were in the human world and they are sitting on the bank of a lake at night. There is a large bright moon that gently gives off some light and so while Mike and Sully talk about their insecurities they sit in this dark colorless world. A character that I loved with lighting was Dean Hardscrabble. Throughout the first "half" of the film, as the frightening dean of the scare program, she always stood in shadow. Even when she was outside under the tarp introducing the Scare Games Hardscrabble still had a shadow fall over her, thus she always had this dark and frightening aura about her. However, after Mike and Sully returns from their adventure in the human world and surprises the dean, she becomes more amiable and now when she appears she is no longer hiding in the shadow trying to frighten anyone and is instead out in the open light.
Remember that yellow slug monster that was trying not to be late for his first day of class? Stay until after the credits to see him make it to class, but not until school is out for the summer!