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Tom Tangney

Manage your expectations for 'Monsters University' & 'World War Z'

These are two highly anticipated movies and they couldn't be more different from each other. "Monsters University" and "World War Z."

One is the latest from the brilliant people at Pixar, the masters of the animation universe. The other is a summer blockbuster-wanna-be with Brad Pitt fighting a world of zombies. Both have the potential for greatness, I suppose, but the first order of business for each movie is to manage expectations. (By the way, they're sky high for the monsters and pretty low to the ground for the zombies.)

Let's look at "Monsters University" first. It's a prequel to Pixar's smash hit "Monsters Inc." which was about an odd couple of monsters, a furry giant named Sully and a green eyeball on legs called Mike.

In "Monsters University," we go back to their college days together where they take part in some pretty standard campus hijinks.

Sully is embraced by all the coolest fraternities while Mike is mostly shunned.

The two mismatched freshmen end up pairing up to take on the other bigger, meaner fraternities. Life lessons are eventually learned.

This is a perfectly passable G-rated movie but it's a real letdown for Pixar fans who have come to expect the highest of standards. "Monsters University" lacks the wit, the ingenuity and the heart that makes for the best Pixar films. Unlike the "Toy Story" sequels, there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to re-visit these particular characters, as well-loved as they may be in the original.

Unike "Monsters Univiersity," "World War Z" has endured a lot of bad publicity. The movie has been plagued with rumors of major budget crises, fights between star and director, and significant re-shoots. Based on a crazily popular book, the movie has also been besieged by fans who complain the script has nothing to do with the book. That may indeed be the case - but the one common denominator is zombies: a world-wide attack of zombies.

"World War Z" turns out to be an exciting, globe-trotting, action picture about zombies trying to take over the world.

It may not be much more than that, but it's at least that. And Brad Pitt is a refreshingly credible action hero who doesn't rely on too many preposterous stunts.

(Besides, this may be the first film with a United Nations guy as the hero. Now that's original.)

Setting aside my expectations for both movies going in, I'd have to say I'd rate both movies about the same: pretty good but not great.

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Tom Tangney, KIRO Radio Host, Film & Media Critic
Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.
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By day, you can hear Tom on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, and by night, he sits in the dark, making snide comments about what he sees on the silver screen.

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