Originally Published at Dork Shelf
Director Guillermo del Toro unleashes his long awaited summer blockbuster Pacific Rim on multiplexes everywhere this weekend. It’s by far the biggest film del Toro has undertaken and he’s left all the money on screen. But the story driving the robot and sea monster battling action and the performances, from a cast featuring some recognizable faces and names but lacking a major star, are not without issues sometimes distracts from the amazing effects and action on display.
When monsters known as Kaiju start rising from the sea, the war for our planet begins. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon is devised: massive robots called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge allowing the pair to react and behave as one. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenceless in the face of the relentless Kaiju after initial success. On the verge of defeat following the evolution of Kaiju fighting techniques, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes, a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi), who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past.
New to theaters from Disney/Pixar Studios this weekend is the long awaited follow up to the 2001 smash hit “Monsters Inc”, “Monsters University”. The prequel tale takes us back to the college days of our 2 heroes Mike Wazowski and James P Sullivan and shows us how they become friends and partners in the scaring business.
Featuring the voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, Joel Murray, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza and Beth Behrs
Directed by Dan Scanlon
Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (Crystal) was a little monster, he has dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University. But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. To make matters worse, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right.
With Crystal and Goodman effortlessly slipping back into the characters of Mike and Sully, the biggest obstacle the film faces is trying to revive the charm and heart the original film had in bucket loads, and sadly it falls short. The setting of a University for a children’s film is an interesting choice as most of the target demographic have no idea what the impact of getting booted out of university would be. Despite this the film manages to work fairly well until the final act of the film where the Monsters universe created in the first film comes crashing down hard. A poor choice in story negates the rules of the universe that firmly exist in Monsters Inc, as well as changing the backstory of our two characters so that it no longer matches up. The film also discredits the beliefs of the film’s universe before the story that plays out in Monster’s Inc.
The newer characters add some spark to the story, but are fairly indistinguishable and forgettable in the long run. Having Buscemi return as Randal is a neat twist, but in the end one that is full of missed opportunities as Randal’s appearance becomes more sporadic as the film carries on. But what is missing here is Boo, the little girl from Monsters Inc, as there is nothing added here that comes close to adding the element of heart and engagement that she delivers in spades in the film’s predecessor. The ‘Scare Games’ provide some fun and entertaining settings and environments that are among the film’s highlights, but third act unravels all that goodwill very fast.
Much better than the other Pixar sequel audiences were subjected to recently with the abysmal Cars 2, Monsters University sadly does not manage to capture the same magic that made the first film a classic. But up until the 3rd act the film does pack enough laughs and funny sequences
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