First Look Film Review: Monsters University

We’ve patiently waited a long time to be reunited with Monsters Inc. favourites Mike and Sulley, 12 years to be precise, but now we’ve finally been treated to a prequel – so was it worth the wait?

In the opening scenes of Monsters University we quickly remember why we fell in love with Mike Wazowski 12 years ago. We’re reintroduced to the character on a school trip to the scare factory that played the main setting in 2001’s Monsters Inc. He’s adorably minuscule and we instantly become reconnected to the character who gave such pizzazz in his older years yet, as a loner who doesn’t fit in with his classmates, this younger Mike is not the monster we know and love. As he expresses his desire to become a scarer we next see him on his way to Monstropolis’ Monsters University, otherwise known as MU.

The characters at MU are greatly thought out, with recognisable characteristics and traits – yes, that’s right, even in Monstropolis there are cliques. From jocks to emos to girly girls, they are all there with appropriate one-liners and hilarious scare-tactics. Mike and Sulley soon find themselves competing against these groups in the MU Games to become the ultimate scarer.

Whilst Monsters University certainly tells the story of how Sulley and Mike became the monsters we know and love, it is the secondary characters that hold the film together in terms of gags and laugh-out-loud moments. One particular favourite is Scott “Squishy” Bubbles, an adorably cute childish monster, who provides some great interactions with other characters, particularly his mother.

As a fan of the original film it’s also great to see so many returning characters, albeit quite briefly in some cases. These characters provide some of the funniest moments as they make references to the previous film, which is undoubtedly something that was included to please older fans.

However, the biggest downfall of Monsters University is its lack of a strong villain. Mike and Sulley get relentlessly teased by their peers, plus their headmaster Dean Hardscrabble, who is brilliantly voiced by Helen Mirren, can certainly intimidate but she isn’t fearful. Maybe it’s my age now, but I remember watching Monsters Inc as a child and being genuinely terrified of Randall and no characters seemed to have that sinister vendetta against the pair in this film. Perhaps Mike and Sulleys’ enemies will provide scares for child viewers, but they may not be enough to entertain adults.

Whilst Monsters University was certainly enjoyable, I think the franchise should be left alone now. Even though it was great to see more of Mike and Sulley, the prequel didn’t feel all that necessary and didn’t do the original film justice. It still had the heart of a true Disney-Pixar film by teaching morals and lessons to children but older viewers may feel it lacks the magic of the original.

Monsters University is released on the 12th July in the UK.

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