This weekend brings us the return of Pixar and a zombie movie loosely based on an acclaimed novel. If you’re wondering which one is better, the correct answer is “neither.”
Pixar seems to have Disney-itis. With the exception of the ‘Toy Story’ movies, the studio just can’t keep it together with follow-ups. The unworthy ‘Monsters, Inc.‘ prequel ‘Monsters University‘ is the biggest release of the weekend, opening on more than 3,800 screens, but don’t expect the same kind of greatness that made the first one “Inc”redible. The camaraderie that existed between Mike and Sulley is absent for the first 90 minutes. Instead, the two characters begin as enemies that end up stuck together in a desperate move to get an education from the foremost acclaimed Ivy League “scare” school. If you were hoping for an amazing prequel – like I was – be prepared for disappointment. ‘Monsters University’ is more like those countless cheap direct-to-video Disney sequels from the ’90s.
Have you heard all the rumors about how Paramount hated the original cut of ‘World War Z‘ so much that the studio brought in Mr. Clean-Up, Damon Lindelof, to re-write the second half of the movie, then made everybody come back for reshoots? Well, if the current second half is better than the original second half, I’m left wondering how bad the old version must have been, because the supposedly fixed version is still pretty bad.
Brad Pitt plays the central role in ‘World War Z’. (I’d call it the “central character,” but that would imply that there’s at least one actual “character” in the movie, when there’s not.) He’s a husband, a father and a former investigator for the United Nations. Those are the only three facts that we know about him. After narrowly escaping from a zombie outbreak, he’s recruited to reenact Dustin Hoffman’s role in ‘Outbreak’ by tracking down “Patient Zero.” What starts off like an everyman thriller (not unlike ‘War of the Worlds‘) turns into a shallow hero movie, more like ‘Independence Day‘ – that makes you the spectator and rarely places you in the action. At this point, I don’t know that reshooting the second half helped much.
I’d rather take a nap than re-watch either of this weekend’s blockbusters. With ‘The Bling Ring‘ expanding to more than 500 screens, that’s the movie I’m hoping to catch this weekend. But if you live in L.A. or New York, you have a few more options with potential.
The Weinstein Company is releasing the warm-hearted dramedy ‘Unfinished Song‘ on a pair of screens. Looking like this year’s ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘, it stars the Terence “General Zod” Stamp as a grumpy old bastard who’s forced into taking his ill wife (Vanessa Redgrave) to a senior center’s singing group. Of course, pushed by the joyful chorister (Gemma Arterton), he begins to find joy in the final phase of his previously miserable life.
The ‘Hills Have Eyes‘ and ‘High Tension‘ guys are also back at it. Elijah Wood stars in ‘Maniac‘, a grizzly horror film that looks beyond disturbing. With an insanely creepy trailer, I can only cringe at the thought of how icky the actual movie must feel – and I can’t wait to see it!