monsters-university-young-mike

Adorable. Simply adorable.

Summer is here an that usually means a huge movie opens every week. In the animation front, Pixar and Illumination Entertainment have released prequels/sequels to their hugely successful movies. There have been lots of inevitable comparisons, which beg the question: which one is the better movie?

They’re both doing great in the box office and according to critics–both are practically tied in Rotten Tomatoes. Some people preferred Pixar’s Monsters University and others enjoyed Despicable Me 2 more. This is, of course, personal opinion and if you enjoyed one more than the other, there’s nothing I can say to change your mind. What I will do is share my opinion on which one is a better movie.

People say comparisons are odious and that criticism is annoying. And to quote Anton Ego, and what is probably one of the very best quotes out of any animated movie ever:

“We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

Now that I’ve share a bit of that excellent quote, let’s get started!

Monsters University

monsters-university-final-trailer-disney-pixarI went to see MU with high expectations, since it’s preceded by a little jumping lamp that I associate with movie magic. It was also a prequel to a phenomenal movie that I’ve loved for over 10 years. The original Monsters, Inc was hilarious and Sulley’s relationship with Boo is still one of the most heartfelt relationships Pixar has shown. So did MU meet my expectations? 

It did. I thought it was absolutely hilarious. I laughed A LOT. I thought the animation was beautiful, the voice-acting great and it did what a prequel has to do: Work on its own and add another level to the original. You learn more about Mike and Sulley’s friendship, you see Waternoose with sweet hair during the credits and you can feel the whole Pixar team had a lot of fun doing the movie. It has its flaws, more than the original probably, but it worked really well for me.

What disappointed me the most was the resolution of Randall’s storyline. Since the first image of the adorable Randy Boggs was released, I expected to see why he turned into the evil Randall we love to hate. It turns out (spoiler alert) that he resents Mike and Sulley because Sulley roared really loudly and he tripped? I felt it was completely disappointing. Other than that, I greatly enjoyed the movie even though the new characters aren’t as memorable as, for example, the new toys in Toy Story 3. 

It still didn’t feel as magical as “classic Pixar”, but none of its movies have reached that masterpiece level since 2010. None of the features it’s released has been written and/or directed by a senior creative member of the studio since the same year, though. And we won’t get that until 2015′s Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc Up) and written by the always phenomenal Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3).

Despicable Me 2

despicable-me-2-trailer-halloween-teaserThe original was a runaway hit because of its over-the-top sense of humor, the charming and adorable characters and, of course, the minions. The sequel brings all of this back and delivers another hilarious story with plenty of heart. Most of my friends preferred it to MU and to the original.

However, I had a problem with it: I really like it when a movie’s goal is clearly defined and every scene is a step trying to accomplish that goal. Take Finding Nemo for example. Everything Marlin does is done in order to find Nemo. I thought Gru’s goal wasn’t really defined. I think the idea of having the Anti-Villain plot plus the romantic plot is really good. A romantic sub-plot is always good to add heart to the whole thing.

But watching the movie, I didn’t know which was the main plot and which was the sub-plot… At first I thought the goal was to get Lucy so the girls would have a mother. And halfway during the movie, I even thought it was rather genius to have the romantic plot as the main one. But then it suddenly changes to the villain plot and the romantic story is left unattended for a while. This felt oddly disconcerting and it was my biggest problem. I didn’t feel the whole thing was organic, I was taken out of the movie by this.

The Minions were extremely funny and it will interesting to see if their spin-off will work, since the hilarious comedic sidekicks tend to make poor protagonists.