Tag Archives: Disney

Cinema-Maniac: Coco (2017)

Despite living in the west, my interest in Western animation is usually on the low side. A major reason for this being a majority of animation produce in the West, specifically the US, tend to be comedies, and there’s hardly much to consume in other genres. Due to this, I find viewing animation outside the US far more interesting. However, Pixar is the only animation studio that has me still giving western animation a chance. Unlike Disney, whenever Pixar releases a movie I look forward to it, even if it doesn’t match up to their great films. Their films usually have efforts put into them, and no matter how familiar their story feel never once do I get the impression they’re factory produce, or soulless like I typically do with Disney animated movies. Especially from the 2010s which is easily their worse decade for animation. With today’s film, it doesn’t break away from the path of familiar storytelling, but when you have filmmakers whom believe in their product wholeheartedly, and have a understanding of good execution it’s all you need for a good film.

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So, this is where Disney passion for animation is at. 

Coco follows aspiring musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, indirectly entering the Land of the Dead during Day of the Dead festival. Now, Miguel has to find his great-great-grandfather, and get back home to his family in the real world before the sun sets. In terms of writing, the story isn’t anything special. Things you expect from a company owned by Disney are here; a plot twist to reveal the villain, a misunderstanding of events leading to hatred of a major character, a time limit for main character to return home or stay alive, an adult who hates the profession of the main character is pursuing, and yes, the host of silly side characters, and a silly pet. These plot points, or plot devices alone don’t harm the film in the long run. The good execution of a familiar story is what helps overcome anything predictable. For starter, when it comes to Miguel great-great-grandfather it’s obvious to veteran movie watching where the plot actually goes. What prevents the eventual plot twist from harming the movie is characterization. Throughout the movie, several moments in the film are dedicated to displaying the importance of family, and remembering the dead. By having Miguel experience hardship with his family, and seeing there’s more to the Land of the Dead than he original thought. It minimizes the damage the plot twist would of had otherwise if certain aspect of the world weren’t shown. 

 

Another positive is the whole theme of family the movie obviously enforce is heartfelt, even if it won’t make you cry. Miguel family bond is the foundation of the movie, and so whenever it goes for any big emotional scene it feels earned. The natural progression of conflict always remain personal to its characters. As well as add some interesting ideas into the fold. For example, there’s the consequences of being forgotten being shown in a scene in the movie. While the character it happens too won’t make you feel sad for it, it does get across the consequences perfectly. One such thing isn’t rarely ever shown as a negative in family films is the pursuit of a dream. In Coco, it shows how the pursuit can impact the people whom love you, and in a lesser way shows how success can influence those around you negatively. 

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Eating sandals still beat eating Spanish food XD

There’s also the balance of humor, and drama thrown into the mix. It slightly prefers going for drama, but the great pacing always ensures a balance of both. Being able to easily take seriously, while not getting the tone diminish with its humor. Tonally being balanced for the whole film. One slight irritation for the film is some of the Spanglish dialogue. It makes sense nearly all of it would be spoken in English since it’s an English production, but for some unfathomable reason there is the odd Spanish word thrown in. In context it makes sense since it takes place in Mexico so Spanish is abound, but at the same time a country whom primary language is Spanish has a majority of people speaking English. That’s more of a deliberate decision that won’t hurt the film in the long run. What does, like mention earlier, is familiarity. It doesn’t do anything against your expectation for these kind of stories. So it’s really depended on your familiarity with movie watching, but even than it not huge knock against the film since it’s executed right.

 

The voice cast of Coco do a good job in their roles. Anthony Gonzalez (the youngest in the cast at 13) does good in his role. It helps that he doesn’t have to carry the heavy dramatic scenes for someone his age. However, he’s still display range of emotion convincingly. Mostly thanks to him being given good direction, and not simply shouting his line like younger age actors would tend to do. His delivery is also like that of true professional. Treating voice acting as seriously as he would if he were doing it in front of a camera in live action. His best moments are easily when his dialogue revolve around his passion for music, and his delivery comes across as passionate. Expressing the joy music brings to him, and the disappointment that he can’t share it with his family.

Gael Garcia Bernal, who is a pretty good actor, is no surprised that he turned in another good performance. He carries a majority of the film heavily dramatic scenes on his shoulder. Just like he’s able to in live action movies I’ve seen him in, when it comes to voice acting he’s able to bring a high caliber performance into his role as Hector. Coming off as a convincing goofball in the beginning of the film before turning into a tragic character as it progressed without it feeling jarring. Bernal is so good that even in scenes when he does an 180 he pulls it off with ease without ever feeling like he’s breaking the film’s tone. His best scenes are easily the ones when he speaks about wanting to see his daughter again. During these scenes, you simply feel the heartache in Bernal words in his line delivery for some effective dramatic scenes. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a fan of Gael Garcia Bernal as an actor despite me not seeing Spanish language movies frequently. His voice acting performance in Coco, makes me keen to see if he’ll try voice acting again.

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Here’s Miguel playing the cords of the Simple Plan song “I’m just a kid”

Supporting cast also do a tremendous job in their role, though Anthony Gonzalez, and Gael Garcia Bernal are the standout. Only other standout performance is Alanna Ubach who is just as good as Gael Garcia Bernal, but with a good singing voice. Hearing her unexpectedly sing in the movie was a nice surprise. The animation isn’t flashy, but the world, and character designs are colorful. Everything in the Land of the Dead is given such vibrant colors to make it pop on screen. It wears it’s Mexican influence in design in pride from the clothing of the characters, to having music players play correct cords on their guitar strings, to capturing the way the people speak. The music in the film is good, though stuff I typically don’t care for. Despite my background of being Hispanic, I actually don’t care for Spanish music.

Coco doesn’t hold a candle to Pixar great movies in terms of writing, but the execution makes it better than it should have been. It has a colorful world that is filled with likable characters, and a heartfelt story about family. It does more than enough right that it’ll make taking the trip worthwhile regardless of age.

8/10

Cinema-Maniac: Big Hero 6 (2014) Review

Disney….Marvel….okay how the heck am I meant to write an introduction when two of my least favorite examples on storytelling are involved. I might have my complaints with both, but when they make great movies, more likely with Marvel, I applaud them. Sure the methods are reused, but if anyone can create a winning formula, not change it for over seventy years, still get positive reviews for essentially making the same film, and get rewarded with large revenue it’s Disney. Unlike “Frozen” where it had no idea what it wanted to be “Big Hero 6” suffers from the opposite problem of having no personality. There’s nothing in “Big Hero 6” that attempts to differentiate itself from a typical Disney animated movie or Marvel movie. Like it’s prominent hero Baymax, the original creation has heart and thought put into, but in the hands of another creator it’s just something that can reproduce from an assembly line without the same care or thought put into it.

Big Hero 6 is about a bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. Just like the heroes of the film, “Big Hero 6” is rather aimless. One of the casualties of this film being an animated film by Disney and based around a Marvel comic book combining cliches from both properties. The Disney protagonist parents are dead, the Disney villain is one dimensional with a Marvel revenge scheme that is weak due to poor characterization, Disney supporting cast are wacky given Marvel powers of plot armor, and a Disney ending that removes Marvel character progression. There’s nothing here that has not been seen and is a tedious experience when it never does anything out of the box. For example, Hiro Hamada is proclaim by the other characters to be a genius. This is simply never made true as Hiro spends a majority of the film expanding on other’s creations rather than making his own, and his genius is boggled down by summaries rather than actual scenes displaying how clever this character is meant to be. However, unlike Hiro expansion on other inventions, the script does not expand on the hero-origin story putting more emphasis on being a by the number product than it’s own creation.

Pacing is non existent in the film. Being a showcase of several ideas and that’s all. They’re just ideas that never get time to developed into proper characteristics or working plot points. Within the first act the protagonist, Hiro, does a complete one eighty on his life with no effort to be convinced to change. This sudden change in Hiro is rushed and so is the catalyst that becomes his motivation. During this rush transformation it introduces the viewer to the rest of the cast. Supporting characters are given a single trait to differentiate from one another. They also have no personality. All the heroes are driven by the same singular goal with the same motivation. Resulting in a cast that have no personality when separated and when together becomes a boring team because the heroes all function the same. There’s no team dynamic either despite only knowing Hiro for a couple of minutes they somehow manage to work together flawlessly. Immediately removing an obstacle to the road of recovery.

The villain of the film is very weak. Not only is his motivation all the amount of characterization he gets, but that gets undone by a twist in the climax. Also, it attempt to make the identity of the villain a mystery. It doesn’t work when there’s only two candidates. By doing so, the film incorporate a twist to throw viewers off, but even with that twist spotting the villain will take no less than the first act. As for the world there’s no detail spend discussing how San Francisco and Tokyo merged into San Fransokyo. At least a single sentence would be fine, but if that’s not important than having a good ending is, which probably got teleported to another dimension since that’s gone as well. Simply put in no spoilers terms, the ending would rather keep a character position static over creating a dynamic character whose significant in the story goes far beyond the basic position from the start.

When it comes to animation Disney balances the mixture of both of Western and Japanese culture in San Fransokyo. Blending the architectural designs of Japan’s Pagoda temples with the interior of a Western traditional home. Mixing up building designs with a combination of both or separately while maintaining a unified look. Streets at night are lit up by neon billboards and Japanese lanterns. Small details like the appearances of both Japanese and English writing down to the clothing make the world feel fully realize. It’s all bright and colorful with great lighting. You’ll get to see plenty of San Fransokyo with two chase sequences, and one flying sequence that’ll display the world. These sequences are well animated, but they could have easily been taken out in favor of sequences that could have been beneficial to the story. One area where the animation fails are the action sequences. All the set pieces are a one sided affair resulting in a party unanimously coming out victoriously regardless what the film character will claim. They are simplistic and slow moving not fully utilizing the abilities of the characters until the climax, but even then it’s for a brief period before the climactic set piece comes to an end.

Ryan Potter provides the voice of Hiro, the hero of the story. His work was fine, nothing noticeable to criticize since the poor script it at fault. With that said, Ryan Potter surprisingly makes every single one of his line delivery come across naturally. He’s able to provide emotion in scenes where the material failed to do so. The stand out voice work goes to Scott Adsit and his portrayal of the robot Baymax. Even through an auto-tune-like filter, Adsit was able to give the character life. While Baymax comedic antics revolve on slapsticks and the rule of three (allot) Adist has good comedic timing. Delivery most of the laughs with what he says over what his character does. The best performance in the film belongs to Daniel Henney for his portrayal of Tadashi. Offering the most ranged in his performance and coming across as a likable individual with good intention.

The rest of cast roles require them to be one-note. Leaving little range for T.J. Miller, James Cromwell, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, and Alan Tudyk. Their performances are underwhelming, though fitting for their characters. Whatever the character trait is, the voice cast conveys those characteristics strongly. Unfortunately as stated before the roles don’t offer them much range. Minimalizing their time during the more dramatic segments of the film.

The soundtrack is something I honestly cannot judge fairly. It has a song called “Immortal” by “Fall Out Boy”, a band I grew up with. Of course I’ll be enthusiastic if I listen to “Fall Out Boy”, even if it’s a song from the “PAX AM Days” album (which I dislike). Unlike the film visuals, the soundtrack only contains two tracks that blends Western and Eastern musical influence together. The rest of soundtrack heavily feature technoesque sound that seems more in line for a film about a young-goofball hacker than a superhero film. There’s several tracks in the film where it sounds like random computer noise were randomly inserted being out of place in a track. If it’s a track emphasizing the more innocent or comedic side of the film it becomes noticeable working in the scene. However, none of the more bombastic sounding tracks manage to create a mood of excitement during the set-pieces. Having steady raising buildup, but downplaying the pay off with a whimper. Outside of the film, only Fall Out Boy “Immortal” comes closest to standing on its own without the company of the movie visuals. Aside from that one track it’s instantly forgettable.

Big Hero 6 is the result of Disney handling a property without the effort. It takes the laziest aspects of both Marvel and Disney to create a story where personality and effort is non existent. The technical side of the film are generally above solid. Disney created a wonderful, visual mixture of two different culture that looks unified. While the soundtrack goes more for a Western feel and is instantly forgettable it works for the film. Unfortunately what Big Hero 6 ends up being is missed opportunity to provide a story worth investing in, engaging characters, and memorable world.

5/10

SPOILERS: Heartless Ending

The central conflict of the film is Hiro trying to move on from his brother death. How Hiro copes with his depression is his relationship with Baymax. While the other elements of the film were predictable this central conflict appeared to be going in the right direction when everything else was not. Unfortunately by the third act the whole dynamic of getting past death has been toss aside with a twist eliminating the antagonist motivation therefore removing what little character he had. The ending defeated the whole purpose of Baymax as emotional placement for Hiro Hamada too. A physical being that metaphorically represents the soul of Hiro’s brother, at least that it seemed like the film was going for. If Baymax remained dead along with Hiro brother research data then the whole conflict would have had significant meaning. Hiro would have finally moved on from his brother death and therefore Baymax as a character has more to him than just being a fluffy comedic sidekick character oblivious how to properly act in the world. Unfortunately the film ends with Hiro rebuilding Baymax. Making Baymax into a mascot with no depth only meant to sell toy. So in the end, Hiro’s brother death was unimportant to the story and Baymax was only created to sell toys.

Cinema-Maniac: Dragonslayer (1981)

Dragonslayer is an interesting film in Disney ridiculously large catalogue of family films. For starter, it’s a more realistic take on a typical fantasy story, contains partial nudity, some blood and gore, and no memorable characters. It says something when the best remember element of the film is a special effect that isn’t on screen for much of it duration leaving a bigger impact than anything else with longer exposure. It has some intelligent ideas and semi-subvert dark take on an overuse formula, but it’s characters and actors hold it back from greatness.

Dragonslayer is about a young wizard apprentice sent to kill a dragon which has been devouring girls from a nearby kingdom. Now the way the film is set up is also it biggest downfall. It build up is done right in sparingly showing the dragon and creating its image as this big menace that is seemingly invincible. Giving the world a true sense of danger as the dragon unprecedented timing of attack raises fear. Leading to characters to pursue any option possible from a gaining helping from a bumbling sorcerer’s apprentice to a so call…”Virgin Lottery” (brought to you by Disney) to sacrifice to the dragon. Seeing the influence the dragon has over the kingdom holds your attention and so does the dragon when he appears on screen. While also doing away with some narrative points in its genre that prevents it from being part of the norm. Maintaining it’s overall dark tone with deaths being prevalent throughout even for major characters you expect to survive. It characters bog down some of it more complicated religious and politics subjects. As mention earlier the “Virgin Lottery” (brought to you by Disney) is challenged making a statement against Authoritarian. This plot point correlates some religious ideals. It’s not the inherent quality of the belief (or tool, or skill, or invention) that determines whether it’s good or bad, it’s how it is used.

Then there are the human characters that are a mixture of cheeky comedy, satire, and seriousness minus a balance. Much like the actors that play them, they aren’t compelling as if their performances were meant for different films. Peter MacNicol is not a capable, commanding presence. He is barely more masculine than the female lead and probably a few octaves higher. MacNicol looks and acts exactly like his character should even if he is the star of the film he always fits with the cast without standing out. However, he fails to make the hero compelling with his clumsy transition between comedy and drama. Ralph Richardson performance is artificial with his limited screen time. Richardson dies in two scenes in the film coming across as an old man bad role play of a cheesy fantasy board game. Caitlin Clarke is fair playing against gender type with her character. She’s able to conceal an important trait of her character physically and verbally, but once that trait is revealed she plays naturally in a routine love interest going through the rocky, a dragon is trying to kill me motion. John Hallam plays the obligatory rival with no redeeming value. Whenever he’s on screen he has one mindset; I’m angry. Peter Eyre is both hilarious and pathetic, as a king who can think of nothing more forceful than bleat. Chloe Salaman is okay as the film progresses so does her performance improves with material that gives her character some emotional turmoil to showcase. As a whole the acting is fair, but limited by the material giving the actors a hard time when deciding to switch direction.

Matthew Robbins textures his film with muted brooding colors for the coarse-flavored peasant environment to the more brightly-colored dragon sequences. Effects-wise the film sometimes shows it age in some poor blue-screen rendering, especially in the big climactic action scene. The dragon is a mix of richly detailed animatronics and stop-motion animation, to produced a monster that shown realistically in close-ups, yet could be given motion in a wider shot with little difficulty. And though there are moments when the inevitable choppiness of stop-motion work shows on the whole it still looks menacing. Probably the best marriage of old and new might be to use digital techniques to erase the telltale signs of a stop-motion or other type of puppet, allowing the tiny model to move as fluidly as a “real” creature. A minor but vital character to the film’s design is fire, and there are several distinct colour schemes – the blazing amber-redness of the dragon’s breath, the swirling green that signals the rebirth of sorcerer Ulrich, and the bluish-amber in the pools of intense heat which pepper the dragon’s cavernous lair. As for the confrontation between human is dragon is realistic as the hero has a difficult time even holding his own against the dragon with good weapons.

Dragonslayer is darker than most of Disney live action films, but also missing are some compelling leads that made some of their classics widely remembered. It subvert from the norm of Disney with it dark themes and a more gritty take on fantasy that doesn’t pander (much) to what viewer expects. While none of the actors or characters ever share the glory as the special effect driven dragon it has other elements worth getting into.

7/10

Cinema-Maniac: Frozen (2013) Review

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it is the mindset I applied to Disney Studio filmmaking. For decades the studio essentially been telling similar stories with similar messages in their animated films. Containing a formula for the most part if done correctly can create an easily accessible film without the sacrifice of what makes a quality film. Frozen is not one of those films suffering from an identity crisis between breaking the norm or following it leaving an entire film that’s tacked on.

Frozen follows Anna journey to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter. “Frozen” simply amounts to being an easily avoidable overblown temper tantrum. Conflict in the story is very forced. Occurring within minutes of the film starting we get adult characters doing something illogical even by Disney standards. Simply put if it wasn’t for the trolls (oh my god!) none of the events in the film would have happened. These trolls never explain why Anna memories need to be change, poorly explain crucial life saving information, suffer from memory lost, and the advice these trolls give while good is misinterpreted by the parents. So these trolls advice basically says to embrace Esla power something which the parents can’t comprehend thus you got “Frozen” in a nutshell. This one scene, one single scene breaks the whole narrative of the film within minutes of starting making it unable to recover from it. Yes that’s alot of vague analyzation into a single scene, but the other essentials of the film are just as tacked on.

Suffering from identity crisis “Frozen” is confused in what to be. One half panders to expectations of the Disney formula (always got to have dead parents and a villain) and another that wants to breakaway from the formula (love at first sight is done twice). With this uneven course set the film never aspires to much in the long run taking its toll on the way the story is told. Scenes at times are conflicted between what to should be spoken dialogue and what should be a musical number. In the few scenes it’s confident we get solid working scenes, but they’re a rarity within the film. Characters simply go through the motions of events never once taking time to act like real people. There’s no sense of progression as every piece of character developments is expository for the antagonist or a superficial songs that doesn’t build upon what’s already established for the central characters. The quality of the songs depends on the listener. Sure I personally didn’t like the music because the songs didn’t build upon what was established by spoken dialogue. However, the songs themselve have personality more so than the character even in if in context they don’t add much to the story. So in the end tacked on conflict, cardboard characters that go through the motion of events, and superficial song amounts to an superficial film.

Character animation is smooth and fluid, though the visuals leave something to be desire. In the film Elsa character has the power to summon ice, snow, basically anything cold her power can harness at will. Whenever Elsa uses her powers the visuals become interesting because of the large amount of particles effects on screen. Sadly the whole environment despite being covered in snow is only a novelty to look nice with little being done with its setting. Losing it’s magic the more we see of the underwhelming setting. Music composition is solid even if the weak lyrics aren’t equal in power to its instrumental. The voice acting is superb with a stellar Broadway cast who breath pure heart and soul into this masterpiece. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel are flawless. The wonderful innocence, naivety of Anna was portrayed so well by Kristen Bell. When she spoke there was a sweet charm about her and her singing felt more angelic, light. This was a great contrast with the powerful, belting vocals of Idina Menzel as Elsa. Her role as the conflicted queen was perfect for her (also her background with roles like this in “Wicked” made her the perfect choice). She brought a certain maturity to conflict Anna’s innocence. Supporting cast is good, though for certain it’s both Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel film.

Frozen is superficial as a film and a musical. All the elements that form the plot are tacked on artificially assembling a plot with little to no heart. The whole package gives viewer the cold shoulder unable to determine what it wants to be in the end resulting in production values that either do nothing for the film or add little to the overall experience.

3/10

Cinema-Maniac: Saving Mr. Banks (2013) Movie Review

Saving Mr. Banks is about author P.L. Travers reflection on her childhood after reluctantly meeting with Walt Disney, who seeks to adapt her Mary Poppins books for the big screen. Alternating between the 1960s production of Mary Poppins and P. L. Travers childhood in the early 1900s the story is told in non chronological order. The film would have still worked the same if told in order, but the shift between the different era keep things moving without contemplating its own purpose. Themes click a lot faster and character specific moments serve more than essential piece of development as they better correlate the connection Traverse has with her work. By its own structure it’s a design that juggles the correlation between Travers personal life and the work of fiction she holds so dear to her, silver lining the acceptance of change and letting go of the past, and a what it means to be a storyteller. All these ideas are balanced making the journey with earnest emotions. However its characters are a different story. This being a film about P. L. Traverse she is the most define and only three dimensional character. Everyone she interacts gets across a theme which in this story is a positive. Much like the flashback this provides depth in the main theme and sheds a light on how Traverse sees her work and understand the power it has on other.

One of theme that never comes full circle is addiction. While the core relationship of fatherly love works. What doesn’t work is the attempted correlation of addiction between Travers and her father. P. L. Traverse is at a point in her life where she stopped her addiction to tell stories and the core of Travers flashbacks is her father addiction to alcohol. The film wants to tell us that Travers has a deep connection towards her father, but unlike Travers where her inspiration for writing is clear of her father root is misguidedly vice versa. With no exploration in what triggered Traverse drinking problem it also negates what made Traverse stop writing in the first place. Things are missing from these two backstory with one having no beginning and the other having no ending. Still, it’s for it few flaws the story can connect to the viewer no matter how much of it is accepted as truth or fiction.

In a movie about artists that are addicted to their craft, you need actors that work with the same type of fervor. Emma Thompson despite not getting top billing gets the most screen time, gets the toughest job, and delivers the film best performance. She becomes very dislikable and yet sympathetic at the same time. Tom Hanks gives Walt Disney a humanized performance that separates the flawed man from the myth the Disney Company. The rest of the cast does not disappoint, and we even see Colin Farrell potentially impresses as the loving yet extremely defective father figure. Paul Giamatti chief amongst the supporting actors as Travers’ driver, Ralph, a doleful puppy in human form that responds to every brush-off and verbal slap with another smile and encouraging word. There’s no lazy leaning towards slapstick or cheap shots, rather director John Lee Hancock steers their scenes gently allowing both the frostiness and the occasional sprinkles of sunlight to sparkle with sincerity. Hancock visually is creative in framing a true story to be grander than it probably was. One particular noticeable sequence is when the creative team performs one of the songs and Travers has a flashback. For a film that is about the writing process, Saving Mr. Banks never really shows about the writing process that Travers goes through, but explores the writing process of adapting a work, from one medium to another.

Saving Mr. Banks is more about fathers and a storyteller emotional connection towards their work than it is about the making of a beloved film. With a focus on the bigger picture it gives a better understanding of the value that storytellers hold to their work which in some form or another is seen as an extension. It’s a film that can connects to storytellers as strongly to any kind of audience.

8/10

Cinema-Maniac: Monsters University (2013) Movie Review

Prequels regardless of what series they belong to always run the risk messing up a franchise timeline, creating plot holes, and possibly lessening the film that came before it. In the case of Monster University it wants to fill a gap that wasn’t weak in its predecessor. It could have taken the route set out for it to be an easy cash grabbed, but instead rejects that label aiming high as its predecessor creating a world filled with lovable characters.

Monster University is about the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University. Narratively predictable not because the outcome is already set in stone, but because a story like this has already been told plenty of times. Carrying over a speculatively evil headmaster, oddball underdog heroes going up against the college champions in a competition, flunking classes, threat of expulsions, fitting into the crowd, and several overused situational jokes. At it worst you will know where the story is heading with bad jokes thrown in, however overcoming those issues is strong writing. Both Mike and Sulley arcs have a familiar starting point that stronger resonate the more it develops moving forward. Its success lies in the duo relationship bringing to challenge the same struggles and differential life philosophy they came to challenge. Going left field with its cliches with truthful messages; one of them being failing to reach your dreams and how that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A philosophy often ignored in a genre where success is always guaranteed for being positive. Making these messages effective are it cast of characters. Vibrant as they might be each go through their own arcs becoming fleshed out as our protagonists. Wanting to spend time attaching to these characters for who they are instead of by nature. An attachment that becomes more powerful in the final act which is easily the best act of the film. Seeing our characters growth in the final act makes a great film in a strong one that’s dramatically powerful. Showing the true strength of the writing and its characters friendship. Just like its characters, expectations are thrown at the plot refusing those expectations to become better than anyone expected it to be.

Animation is top notch. Sporting more than a eye pleasing color palette designs of monsters are varied. These monsters might share anatomy similar to a human offer a range of different appearances being insect like while other being straight up bizarre. Some having fur, some having scales, some not having legs, and whatever pops into the animators mind. It oozes in creativity for it universe inhabitants, though the environments are nothing spectacular. Environments don’t have any new spin to them in any form going against the film theme of defeating expectations. Voice acting is all stellar with the standout being the strong chemistry between Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Delivering on the comedy, drama, and enhancing the film with their presence. Helen Mirren is strict and overpowering. Steve Buscemi has his wonderfully evil voice that’s memorable even in a film that necessarily has no villains. The film score while not noteworthy does is job adequately whether it be mellow for a touching moment or upbeat for a fun sequence.

Monster University follows a straightforward route taking different directions to reach the same destination with different outcomes. Going into Monster University you know where the journey is headed and you know what the destination is, but what matter most is who you are taking it with. In this case the characters you take the journey with make every minute count.

9/10