Monsters University

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Vernadyn » June 18th, 2013, 2:49 am

To be frank, I haven't been overly impressed with either Pixar or DreamWorks Animation since 2010, when How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 were released. I'd loved every Pixar film except Cars (which was OK) up to that point, but liked only a few of the DreamWorks ones. As far as I was concerned, Pixar was coasting on greatness ever since Ratatouille, even if they hadn't reached the heights of The Incredibles since--though that's one of my favorite films, so I wasn't expecting them to. DreamWorks, on the other hand, pleasantly surprised me with Kung Fu Panda after underwhelming for a decade and then surpassed that with How To Train Your Dragon.

In short, I was (perhaps unrealistically) expecting Pixar to continue its greatness and DreamWorks to get better, or at least make films as good as KFP. When both failed to do so, I was disappointed.

Personally, I have more hope for Pixar than DreamWorks at this point. Since Toy Story 3, Pixar has released two films. Since HTTYD, DreamWorks has released seven. All nine ranged (in my opinion of course) from relatively disappointing (Brave, KFP2, The Croods) to awful (most of the rest). In other words, Pixar has had two chances to impress me since 2010 and failed, while DreamWorks has had seven chances and also failed.

Of course, this is a simplistic view and ignores the potential of individual future films. But even then, I'm looking forward more to Pixar's Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, and Day of the Dead projects more than any of DreamWorks's original upcoming films, bar HTTYD 2.

I do hope these two studios step up their game, especially Pixar (my dream would be for Brad Bird to return). But it's Disney Feature Animation that has created my favorite two animated films since HTTYD and TS3: Tangled and especially Wreck-It Ralph. (The Ben-maligned Frankenweenie would round out the top three--does that ruin my credibility on this board?) I still really like Pixar and hope they continue to make stellar films. As for DreamWorks, they have a lot of great artists working there, so they're bound to make another good film eventually given proper leadership and a reasonable level of artistic freedom. In the meantime, there's still lots of great independent and foreign animation I have yet to discover (and separate from the chaff, no doubt.)

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Ben » June 18th, 2013, 2:35 pm

Nice to see someone read my Frankenweenie review! :)

I think the thing is that Pixar have kind of been elevated to this impossible position, so for them to consider doing a sequel at all I guess tarnishes that immaculate sheen. They do get benefit of the doubt - because they are Pixar! - but there's definitely more of a reliance on sequels to their movies than in the past when their first five movies were originals (not counting TS2 which was going to be a DTV as we all know).

Back then, when they did a sequel they were phenomenal. Now it's a bit more of a guessing game...some of these films legitimately deserve follow-ups. Monsters, ironically, is one of them...but a sequel, not a prequel.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Randall » June 19th, 2013, 1:03 am

Yeah, we hold Pixar to a higher standard, right or wrong, simply because we respect them so much for the films they've done. We know that the whole film industry in on "the dark side" when it comes to sequels... we just like to think that Pixar might be above it all. However, they need to make a buck like anyone else, and let's face it--- they enjoy revisiting these characters too.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by James » June 19th, 2013, 9:01 am

Let's be honest here - almost no good film NEEDS a sequel!

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Re: Monsters University

Post by EricJ » June 19th, 2013, 11:23 pm

Randall wrote:Yeah, we hold Pixar to a higher standard, right or wrong, simply because we respect them so much for the films they've done. We know that the whole film industry in on "the dark side" when it comes to sequels... we just like to think that Pixar might be above it all. However, they need to make a buck like anyone else, and let's face it--- they enjoy revisiting these characters too.
No....YOU want to think that Pixar was absorbed into the greedy tentacles of Cynical Corruption, because it'll make you feel more grown-up.
A few other people already know that the reason they "magically" come up with a better product is that they take a little more corporate pride into putting more effort into their storytelling, even when forced to do a sequel For Reasons Beyond Their Control. Ownership rights, script authorship, marketing assertion vs. media analysts; that doesn't mean you have to compromise the principles you've used for nineteen years if they've worked out for you.
Maybe it's the lesson you learned when your mom made you go rake the lawn every fall--If ya HAVE to do it, it never hurts to do it well.

Don't want to believe in Circle 7, and Eisner's Pixar-War crap, and unproduced scripts that might come back to bite their lawyers, clap your big ol' cynical-martyr hands over your ears and moan what a naive childlike fool you were ever trusting anyone, when we know evil Hollywood will betray us in the end, so they've got it coming?
Fine. What-freakin' ever. Go do that. Have your jollies. We're in situations know where even the TRUTH isn't "entertaining" enough to listen to anymore, so go drink whatever beer gives you the buzz, and have your big imaginary cry into it. The rest of us will be here when you come back.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Randall » June 19th, 2013, 11:48 pm

Does anyone know whom Eric is addressing? Because it doesn't really sound like he's addressing the comments I made. Actually, I'm not even sure what he's trying to say at all.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by EricJ » June 20th, 2013, 12:09 am

Sorry, guess you were going a little for the defense near the end of the paragraph, but seriously--
The "Pixar has gone Hollywood, and now makes sequels because they're lazy!" gag is really...really...starting to be stretched to the breaking point. It started with everyone's frustration with Cars 2, and then our frustration to see the new movies they haven't told us about yet--and THEN the frustration that the ex-C7 Nemo sequel wasn't what we thought it would be--but a lot of it is still this cynical wish to see the Runner Stumble because it's "supposed" to happen by now, and we can feel all cynical and grown-up about ourselves.
Me, I expect this movie to be good (not great, since I'd rather have a movie where Mike & Sulley were friends from the beginning), but at least I've done enough of my history homework to put it in perspective.

(And yes, Ben, finally rented Frankenweenie over the weekend, aka "Tim Burton's Class Reunion":
I'll agree, I don't know if he was actually TRYING to homage every single film he'd ever made since the short, but not only did he put every one of his "repertory company" actors in the movie, but when couldn't fit Christopher Lee in the movie, he had characters watching a Christopher Lee movie on TV. Can't leave him out, now, can we?)
Last edited by EricJ on June 20th, 2013, 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Randall » June 20th, 2013, 12:16 am

I don't see it as laziness, really. And I am NOT one to cheer for anyone to stumble or "fail." That is totally against my nature.

But going for sequels is a "safe" path, no question. The issue is really one of moving away from risk-taking and towards what seem like sure-fire successes. When they go into production with a sequel (or prequel), that's one original film left unmade, which is just a little unfortunate. Most of us would like to see another quirky triumph like Ratatouille than yet another Toy Story or Cars film. Sequels can certainly be good or even great, but... they are by definition not original.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by EricJ » June 20th, 2013, 12:24 am

But that's just it: It's NOT "laziness".
Somebody else's scripts to Toy Story 3, Monsters Inc. 2, and Nemo 2 were lying around the wreckage of Circle 7 like little unexploded legal bombs, and had to be defused. In fact, several Pixar folk said in interviews they wanted to do the Hilgenberg & Muir "Boo grows up" Monsters 2 script anyway, Eisner or no, just because it was that good.
But, it was like Walt Disney having to commission Lady & the Tramp as a book, and then claim that as the source, rather than go through messy authorship entanglements about who wrote the "Lady" short scripts first. No one argues with something written from scratch.

It's been a messy time for the studio and the fans, but as soon as we Find Dory, it's over...They won't have to make Anybody Else's Films anymore and can go back to thinking up their own. Unless any half-written storyboards or memos suddenly surface for that Bug's Life sequel Eisner threatened he "could" make, and THEN it'll be over after that.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Ben » June 20th, 2013, 7:25 am

Um...and then what if MU and Dory are hits? Surely this will cue M3 and a third Finding...movie!?
EricJ wrote:The rest of us will be here when you come back.
Ah...actually, the way this conversation is going, I think we'll all be here and it's you that won't be coming back... ;)

Reminds me of the Special Ed days... :roll:

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Re: Monsters University

Post by James » June 20th, 2013, 9:05 am

Reviews are looking good so far. Here's a quote from one that seems appropriate for our discussions:

"Monsters University is one of those movies that has absolutely no reason to exist, but once you've seen it, you're kind of glad it does."
Reminds me of the Special Ed days...
You just sent a chill down my spine...

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Ben » June 20th, 2013, 2:59 pm

Sorry 'bout that!

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Re: Monsters University

Post by James » June 20th, 2013, 10:16 pm

Good news! All the time and energy we spent debating this was needless. This was a very good movie. Top three from Pixar in terms of humor. Review soon.

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Re: Monsters University

Post by ShyViolet » June 21st, 2013, 9:51 am

That's good to know. Hopefully I'll get a chance to check it out. BTW, just want to add that I don't think all DW films really needed a sequel (true, almost no films do) even though I enjoyed Shrek 2 and Forever After. The "beauty is on the inside" message was thoroughly dealt with in Shrek 1, and Shrek 2 was basically just a reiteration of that. However, it was enjoyable, but we didn't really need Forever and definitely not Third.
Also wanted to add that I don't believe that Mad 2 was needed or for that matter Mad 3 (didn't see that one) and realize that both were a cash-grab. I do, however, believe that KFP and HTTYD are in a different class; I can easily see them having more adventures.

BTW, Pixar doesn't own any of their characters anymore, Disney does, although of course they realize that it's best to let Pixar be in charge of their own characters.
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Here’s the clicker...no one’d blame ya.”

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Re: Monsters University

Post by Vernadyn » June 21st, 2013, 4:23 pm

Looking forward to your review, James!

As for me, it was better than I thought it was going to be--I definitely thought it was better than the Cars movies and Brave (and I did like the latter to some extent). It started out as a fun romp, but actually got quite meaningful near the end (though to the film's credit, it doesn't come completely out of nowhere). It doesn't quite plumb the depths of, say, the Toy Story films, but the film was much better for going in this direction.

Now, it's no spoiler to say that Mike and Sully eventually end up as scarers at Monsters, Inc. But what happens just before they go there is unexpected and rather bold--though admittedly it's tempered by the fact that we know the ultimate outcome. I won't give away what happens, but some might be able to infer it from what I say below, so I'll spoiler it.
click to reveal content
I related to the message that even if your plans fail, especially if it's your fault, you can still move on.
It was nice to hear recognizable voices that worked with the characters without drawing attention to themselves--Alfred Molina, Helen Mirren, Aubrey Plaza, Nathan Fillion, and Peter Sohn all did good jobs, as did all the returning players (with a couple of funny cameos). I would like to have seen a little more of Randall and his arc, though. Randy Newman's score was nice, with rousing college theme song in the best Elmer Bernstein tradition, though overall it bears very little resemblance to the Monsters, Inc. score. There is very little jazz until the end credits. In fact, I only noticed two references to the original: during a chase scene, there is music from the "Feed the Kitty" scene in the original ("Boo Is A Cube" on the soundtrack) and a brief quote of the "If I Didn't Have You" theme near the end. There is a post-credits gag, which is funny enough, but you can definitely see it coming.

I'd have to think more about I how I rank the film and just how much I liked it. But for now, I'll say that it was a very pleasant surprise.

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