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Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Monsters University  (2013)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
3 Stars
(Release Date: October 29, 2013) - There was a time, not too many years ago, when the arrival of a new Pixar release was cause for excitement—not just because chances are it would be good, but because it was a true movie lover's thrill to find out what fresh and innovative premise the studio had cooked up next. Then came a parade of sequels. 2010's "Toy Story 3" was acceptable because it felt like an organic continuation and conclusion of the story (never mind that a truly unnecessary "Toy Story 4" is already in the pipeline). More offensive was 2011's appalling "Cars 2," a hatefully desperate money-grab that turned its back on every last message 2006's lovely "Cars" stood for, and the mediocre spin-off, "Planes." With even more sequels in Disney and Pixar's immediate future (a "Finding Nemo" follow-up, "Finding Dory," is due in 2015), we now arrive at "Monsters University," the prequel (how's that for sounding new and exciting?) to 2001's charming "Monsters, Inc." The best way to approach any movie is with few expectations or pre-conceived notions, and that's because, as is the case with "Monsters University," sometimes said film can genuinely surprise. This is Pixar's most assured and even original picture in years, deeper and more soulful than its predecessor as it traces the beginning of the friendship between monsters Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) and informs how both of them became professional scarers in the land of Monstropolis. Welcome back, Pixar. You've been missed.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
 A+/A+

Astonishing on every conceivable level. Disney has outdone themselves with their 1080p digital-to-digital conversion of "Monsters University." All of the Pixar releases look superb on Blu-ray, but this one raises the bar to a thought-unthinkable new plateau that positively jumps off the screen in a candy-colored explosion of eye-grabbing clarity and stunning dimensionality. There is also a 3D version coming to Blu-ray, but the 2D video is so mesmerizingly lifelike that one can hardly imagine how 3D could possibly improve upon perfection. If there is a flaw with the high-def transfer of "Monsters University," I'll eat my shoe. The immersive DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio emulates being in the world of Monstropolis rather than in a theater or living room watching the movie on a screen. Sit amazed, mouth agape, as the full-bodied sound field envelops you from all angles. From music and sound effects to dialogue, the film sounds beyond great. There isn't a complaint to be had. A job well done!

Blu-ray Features
"Blue Umbrella" (6:46, HD), an awe-inspiring short film that may be as close as a fully computer-animated feature has gotten to photorealism; Audio Commentary with director/co-writer Dan Scanlon, producer Kori Rae and story supervisor Kelsey Mann; Featurettes: "Campus Life" (15:14, HD), "Story School" (8:38, HD), "Scare Games" (4:30, HD), "Monthropology" (5:47, HD), "Welcome to MU" (6:09, HD), "Music Appreciation" (7:29, HD), "Scare Tactics" (5:16, HD), "Color and Light" (5:16, HD), "Paths to Pixar: MU Edition" (7:40, HD), "Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective" (5:02, HD); Deleted Scenes (22:04, HD); Promo Picks (HD): "Monsters Mashup" (4:01), "College Campaign" (2:32), and "Theatrical Campaign" (7:08); Set Flythroughs (6:25, HD); Art Galleries (HD).

Bottom Line
With "Monsters University," Pixar announced their return to true quality computer-animated features after a few years of less-inspired output. Overflowing with wit and heart and the kind of visual details that could blow one's mind—it really is incomprehensible the amount of work that must have gone into every frame—the film is matched with Blu-ray picture and sound that ranks as one of the most impressive A/V presentations the format has seen, to date. Add in a bunch of top-notch special features, and purchasing this release is a no-brainer. The "Monsters University" Blu-ray isn't merely recommended; it is a MUST-HAVE.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman