Monsters University Makes The Grade With Its CinemaCon Debut

After more than a decade of extraordinary success, putting out better animated films and creating better stories than just about anybody in the industry, Pixar has somewhat faltered in recent years. Cars 2 failed to live up to standards and expectations, and while Brave had greatness within it, it also lacked the certain creative spark that the studio has become renowned for. With Monsters University, however, Pixar seems to be back on track, returning to the world of one of their greatest titles and crafting a funny, clever story worthy of the brand.

Today the Walt Disney Company held their presentation at CinemaCon – the annual event held in Las Vegas where studios show off footage for all their biggest upcoming films – and after outlining their slate through 2015 and showing off two extended scenes from Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger, they treated the audience to an impressive surprise: a screening Monsters University in its entirety.

A prequel to Monsters Inc., the new film follows Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James "Sully" Sullivan (John Goodman) before they became best friends, both enrolled in the esteemed scaring program at the titular Monsters University. While Mike isn’t a natural born scarer, he makes up for his lacking by being incredibly hard-working and book smart – a contrast to Sully, who tries to skate by on his large, monstrous appearance and family’s legacy. Their personalities clash in a bad way, and the two end up in strict competition with each other.

While I can’t write up a full review of the movie, as the cut we saw wasn’t 100% complete, I can say that what was presented was very impressive. Most prequels suffer from the fact that the audience already knows where the characters will end up and where the plot is going, but it’s actually fascinating to see Mike and Sully evolve into the adult monsters that we first met 12 years ago. The film borrows liberally from the established college comedy genre (from jock vs. nerd mentality to warring fraternities and sororities) but is able to put enough of a creative spin on it – beautifully adding details and building on the previously established world – to the point where the tropes don’t feel like tropes. There is also a great heart and wonderful message to the story that fully cements it as a true Pixar movie.

We’ll have more for you about Monsters University as the film’s June 21st release date gets ever closer, so stay tuned!

For more of our CinemaCon 2013 coverage head over HERE!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.