Pixar serves up another delicious slice of animated pie.
Pixar certainly has a formula, but much like Coca-Cola, they won't share what it is. Nevertheless, whatever creative ingredients they are putting into their delicious movie soda is working — with their 13 major features to date averaging 89 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes. The company continues to make creative, moving and visually stunning family-friendly films that allow us to unashamedly enjoy a children's movie.
The animation entrepreneurs have recently come under scrutiny, though, from critics who argue that the tried and tested formula is beginning to tire. They point to Pixar's production of sequels such as the Toy Story franchise, Cars 2 and the announcement of Finding Dory to contend that the company is no longer reaching for infinity and beyond.
What they are neglecting, though, is that the magic of Pixar derives from their great storytelling that children and adults across the globe can relate to. And the newest addition to this Pixarpedia is Monsters University, the company's first foray into the prequel world, and this brilliant film will silence whoever wants to argue that this is an example of filmmaking fatigue.
It tells the tale of how Monsters Inc. stars Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) became friends and went on to be employed together at Monsters Incorporated. Whilst audiences who saw the original may know the final outcome, the getting there certainly serves up some unexpected and enjoyable twists right up until film's end.
The focus is on some typically university-centred life lessons, such as defining oneself and sustaining friendships in the face of unforeseen roadblocks. They've sidestepped the other, more adult content of college life; this is a clever, G-rated version. Then again, who needs alcohol when you have friendship, right?
Of course, being a Pixar movie, it is largely about the aesthetics and Monsters University expertly showcases the company's stellar attention to detail. From the monstrous architecture of the campus buildings to the fang zips on students' backpacks, no stone is left unturned. There is also an incredible variety of monsters — with the visual standout being Art — and this vast populous ensures that the film never stagnates as new monsters appear throughout as well as some excellent cameos from the original.
As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke don't fix it, and there is certainly nothing broken at Pixar. If they continue making visually beautiful, surprising and compelling stories like Monsters University then I will happily see robot Billy Crystal voicing Monsters Retirement Home in 100 years time.
Also, stick around until the cinema lights come on for the most entertaining post-credits scene in Pixar history.
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