If you want to escape from the horrors of the real world, head straight to Pixar's "Monsters University," a delightful college comedy prequel that brings back the voices of John Goodman as Sulley and Billy Crystal as Mike. Unlike the best Pixar films, this one is neither original nor aimed at the widest demo; "MU" skews young and male.
If you're ready to face a horrific future via a big-budget disaster thriller, see Marc Forster and Brad Pitt's expert spine-tingler "World War Z," which has earned mixed reviews. We'll argue that it's Pitt at his best trying to save the globe from a zombie apocalypse. In a universe packed with studio retreads, at least this well-made $$220 million E-ride, based on Max Brooks' 2006 novel, will show you something you've never seen before.
Also set in the real world, low-budget indie-style, are the weekend's best-reviewed films, both must-see imports acquired on the festival circuit: hostage thriller "A Hijacking" takes us on a nail-biting big sea pirate adventure, while "The Attack" explores the identity crisis faced by a successful Arab surgeon working in Tel Aviv whose wife commits a suicide bombing. What didn't he know about his loving partner?
A Hijacking Dir. Tobias Lindholm, Denmark | Magnolia Pictures | Cast: Pilou Asbaek, Soren Malling, Dar Salim | 100% Fresh | Variety: "Hostage thrillers are all-too-often shrill affairs, with clock-watching screenwriters wringing maximum melodrama from spiraling disorder. Not so Tobias Lindholm’s superb A Hijacking, which actually grows more chillingly subdued as its nightmare scenario unfolds." | Our TOH! Palm Springs International Film Festival coverage
The Attack Dir. Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon | Cohen Media Group | Cast: | 90% Fresh | The Hollywood Reporter: "Although the subject matter is inherently disturbing, it’s hard to imagine any audience remaining unmoved by this mournful tale." | Our TOH! interview with director Ziad Doueiri
Monsters University Dir. Dan Scanlon, USA | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures | Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi | 83% Fresh | Entertainment Weekly: "Speaking of second chances, Monsters University is exactly the rebound Pixar needed after 2011's "Cars 2" left some wondering if the studio had lost its magic." | Time's Richard Corliss lays out the pros and cons.
World War Z Dir. Marc Forster, USA | Paramount | Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox, David Morse, James Badge Dale | 69% Fresh | Indiewire: "World War Z may wear its intellect proudly, but also consciously translates the zombie premise into a safer context for wider audiences. It's not the smartest zombie movie ever made, but might be the most commercial one." | Our TOH! review
Unfinished Song Dir. Paul Andrew Williams, UK | Weinstein Co. | Cast: Gemma Arterton, Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Chris Eccleston | 65% Fresh | Time Out New York: "How the geriatric ensemble dramedy became the last bastion of British cinema is a bit of a riddle, but like Cadbury Creme Eggs and Manchester soul, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon."