Monsters University

Ever wonder how Monsters, Inc.’s Mike and Sully met? Me neither, since their friendship is so well defined in that vastly superior original film. But Monsters University takes us back to their college days anyway, when the optimistic Mr. Wozanski and the cocky Mr. Sullivan first crossed paths. Since childhood, the bookish, hardworking Mike has dreamed of becoming the greatest scarer ever, but after a disastrous first semester, he must win the campus Scare Games if he’s to have any hope of continuing his education. That means teaming up with a ragtag bunch of underdogs—and with Sully, who is rather a shallow jerk before he learns to play nice. This prequel is fraught with clichés and soon feels too darned long. As we used to say back when I was in school, that’s a bummer. technical presentation, however, earns top marks. The 16:9 Blu-ray image is so sharp and detailed, with such outstanding manipulation of focus that one almost wonders if 3D is even necessary. But every so often a shot will drop the jaw with its realistic illusion of depth, evident down to subtle elements like a shaft of sunlight or a swirl of dust. The third dimension also does wonders to impart a sense of scale to the proceedings, as the grounds and halls of M.U. are flat-out expansive. And in 2D or 3, the range and vibrancy of the colors is nothing short of astounding.

The Dolby TrueHD audio is reference-quality as well. The mains and particularly the surrounds are host to some fun discrete effects, and the speakers work well together to convey directionality across the 7.1-channel soundfield. When you hear the Frisbee whoosh by, you’ll know what I mean. One of the Scare Game scenarios boasts a Thunderdome-like 360-degree spread, fine resonance is exceptionally clear, and the bass is quite powerful, notably in the music.

As theatrically, Monsters University is preceded on disc by the 3D animated short “The Blue Umbrella.” The 2D Disc Two, meanwhile, packs an audio commentary by director Dan Scanlon, producer Kori Rae, and story supervisor Kelsey Mann. A third disc, all in HD, features about a dozen segments that take us behind the scenes and/or share what an amazing place Pixar Animation Studios is to work. Several rough deleted scenes can be found here too. The bundled DVD includes the commentary plus “Umbrella” in standard definition, and a Digital Copy rounds out this solid set.

Blu-Ray 3D
Studio: Disney, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio Format: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Length: 104 mins.
MPAA Rating: G
Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi