Saturday, June 29, 2013

Monsters University and World War Z

     So You Think You Can Nightmare?

            Review by Ken Burke         Monsters University

Pixar offers a prequel to Monsters, Inc. in a great parody of the college experience where Mike and Sully first meet and begin their road to becoming successful Scarers.

                                                                              World War Z

If you haven’t had enough stories yet of suddenly-infected zombies going viral and taking over the world, here’s another version with Brad Pitt as our necessary savior.

[Take care, curious readers, for plot spoilers gallop rampantly throughout the Two Guys’ brilliantly insightful reviews.  This is how we write, so as to explore what must be said as art transcends commerce (although if anyone wants to pay us for doing this ...); therefore, be warned, beware, and read on when ready to be transported to—well, wherever we end up.]

I’m back to a dual-review structure this week (after spending most of the month of June 2013 on single-subject-matter analyses as a creative break from my usual bifocal approach) because the content of my available explorations from what I’ve had a chance to see recently coincides around the concept of hideous creatures, although the first animated batch, found in Monsters University (Dan Scanlon), is more annoying (as college students can often be [here I speak as a decades-battered-expert from the faculty side of the desk]—especially to each other) than truly frightful as they try to hone their skills within the hallowed halls of their chosen school (as opposed to those lowlifes from rival Fear Tech, although the more preppie sorts at M.U. have been getting a marvelous send-up for the past few months in a trailer [see] that speaks less to the events of the current movie and more to a well-researched parody of college-recruitment videos, of which I’ve seen plenty and even contributed to a bit]) in their fantasy alternate dimension of urban-focused Monstropolis, while the second photographic/CGI group is truly grotesque but so familiar in a less-appreciated manner than their cartoonish brethren in Monsters University that I quickly became only marginally interested in the teeth-clacking zombies that constantly ruined Brad Pitt’s intended-boring day in Philadelphia.  If your goal is to immerse yourself in the other-worldly stories of things that go bump in the night (the goal of the grotesque trainees in Monsters University, hoping to generate the energy from screaming kids needed to provide industrial power for their civilization) or that hope to bump you off in broad daylight (the constantly-biting-but-seemingly-not-so-hungry zombies of World War Z [Marc Forster]), I find some exhilarating aspects in each of these movies but ultimately go with the computer-animated fanciful creatures over the mere-repetitively-undead-but-ready-to-scavenge reanimated corpses and the expected last-minute release from their attack (with the understanding that we’ve seen one-eyed, obsessive Mike [voice of Billy Crystal] and happy-go-lucky-but-unnerving Sully [voice of John Goodman] in the original Monsters, Inc. [Pete Doctor, Lee Unkrich, David Silverman; 2001] before as well, but just in 1 movie, not a culture-clogging abundance of zombie invaders whose presence is getting a bit old after decades of cinematic and TV manifestations of undead distractions, tracing their cinematic heritage largely back to the 1940s and gaining renewed, ongoing attention as a serious form of fright-induction in George A. Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead [1968], followed by a flock of sequels, remakes, and lookalikes).  

       Zombies may have become the recent horrific flavor of the month (as the multimedia Twilight’s vampires and werewolves have begun to recede in attention after a few years of their own over-exposure), but, for my tastes, there are only so many fascinations to be found with the recent glut of stories about the rejuvenated undead (with Warm Bodies [Jonathan Levine; review in the Two Guys posting of Feb. 8, 2013] as the most intriguing one for me in quite some time, as I get to see some untapped cognitive potential within the zombies there, whereas most of them—including the ravaging hordes in World War Z—are simply flesh-eaters who must be terminated at all costs).  By comparison, the varied multi-limbed, multi-eyed, multi-shaped creatures in Monsters University have a fascinating degree of diversity in appearance, temperament, and ambition, allowing us to appreciate their desired life choices (be it energy-generating Screamers or simply well-trained scream-capturing-canister-engineers, in an environment clearly influenced by the actual Northern California highest-aspirational campuses, U.C. Berkeley and Stanford).  As with every college recruitment promo that I’ve ever seen (with hilarious ones offered in the months leading up to the recent release of Monsters University, great parodies of the “We are everything that you’ve always wanted in an institution of higher learning” PR videos that flood the awareness of every high-school student in the First-World competitive climate, such as what’s presented in the great faux website at, the creative geniuses behind Monsters University understand well the fiercely-competitive vs. ”whatever”-slacker mentalities that dominate contemporary educational institutions, providing a marvelous insight into the challenges, triumphs, and discordant lives of Mike, Sully, and everyone they impact at M.U.

Every stereotype—from jockaholic frats, air-headed (or in some cases almost no-headed, at least in traditional physiology) coeds, loser nerds, pranks against rivals  (Sully stealing Fear Tech’s mascot pig), fearsome faculty giving fiendish finals, to sheer determination towards triumph and final acceptance by the in-crowd—that you might imagine about college life (and not just human college but also the more supernatural environment that we’ve come to know of Hogwarts from the many Harry Potter books [1997-2007] and their movie adaptations [2001-2011]) is on hilarious display in Monsters University (with acknowledgement from me that most stereotypes have some original grounding in at least a bit of truth, as do all of these, especially the “fiendish finals” aspect to which I plead my guilt) where Mike is on the verge of fulfilling his life’s quest to succeed in the prestigious School of Scaring simply on the strength of his over-achieving determination rather than his ability to really frighten anybody while Sully has skated through his adolescent years toward an assumed career as a top-notch Scarer based on the combination of his natural bulk, his fearsome roar, and the Sullivan family heritage with his father’s sterling reputation providing the only preparation that he thought he’d ever need.  However, when a squabble breaks out between our 2 main protagonists during first-semester finals that ends up damaging the container that previously held Dean Hardscrabble’s (voice of Helen Mirren) record-holding child’s scream, both of them are booted out of Scaring School (along with Scully’s dismissal from the über-frat, Roar Omega Roar) only to seek reinstatement by winning the Greek-sponsored Scare Games (with their resemblances to the kinds of difficult contests we’ve come to know from TV’s Survivor [in its many variations from the first version in Sweden in 1997, followed by Denmark 1998, Norway and Switzerland 1999, and the 2000 global explosion in Argentina, Austria, The Baltics, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, and the U.S.] and the literary [Suzanne Collins, 2008-2010]/cinematic [Gary Ross, 2012 for the first one; Francis Lawrence for the upcoming episodes 2013-2015] versions of The Hunger Games trilogy).  Desperate for a fraternity to join in order to compete in the Games, Mike and Sully—still disdainful of each other at this point—join Oozma Kappa (OK), which is so downtrodden that the frat house is actually the home of one of its members, Scott “Squishy” Squibbles (voice of Peter Sohn), so that the “boys” are under the watchful eye of Mama Squibbles (voice of Julia Sweeney) much of the time.  Despite their general inadequacies, the gallant goofs of OK (with their frat colors of yellow and green, the same as my beloved Oakland Athletics [yes, it’s green and gold for the A’s but that’s close enough], so they didn’t have to prove themselves as winners for me) manage to come together as a team (very reminiscent of the same trope not only in a good many older Bad News Bears [Michael Ritchie, 1976]/Major League [David S. Ward, 1989] sports- or Animal House [John Landis, 1978]-college comedies but also in the currently-playing The Internship [Shawn Levy—review in this blog in our June 14, 2013 posting] with its similar college-campus atmosphere—for which Pixar should not be accused of plot-pilfering because of the long planning and production time involved in animated films so that Mike and Skully’s odyssey was likely well into process before Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern ever started writing their Silicon-Valley-unlikely-heroes-quest), even though after their early victories they are still shunned and humiliated by the BMOCs (Big [in terms of prestige] Monsters [in this story] On Campus) as it’s assumed they’ve gotten this far only through luck so they’re still not taken seriously.  Of course, even with all of that negative buildup, our guys win the overall challenge, but that’s where Monsters University gets interesting.

Unlike some other “now-playing-at-a-theatre-near-you” releases that stumble a bit in overstaying their welcome by taking an already-established bit of business within the story and dragging it out through repetition (yeah, Man of Steel [Zack Snyder] and This Is the End [Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg], you know I’m talking about you, much as I might like you otherwise [reviews of these two respectively in our June 19, 2013 and June 20, 2013 postings), Monster’s University is more like Star Trek Into Darkness (J.J. Abrams; review in our May 24, 2013 posting) in that it reaches what would seem to be an appropriately acceptable climax but then it extends the narrative, not with just more of the same but with further enhancements to what you’ve (mistakenly) come to assume will be either the final scene or close to it so that the actual ultimate resolution is even more than what you thought that the filmmakers had to offer you.  In this case, it’s that the great “triumph of the underdog” was a sham because Scully rigged the device that measured the scream responses in the final confrontation between OK and RΩR (with the understanding that the monsters do exist in a parallel universe to ours so that their Greek is a bit different, as our O is “omicron” rather than "oozma" while there is no “R” in our Greek script—and now I’m sounding like the wiseass, know-it-all character, Sarah Ashburn [Sandra Bullock], in The Heat [Paul Feig; review to come soon]) so that Mike’s howl would hit the top of the scale even if he barely made a sound, a result both of Sully’s fear that despite Mike’s best effort he really wasn’t up to the task and a pressure-cooked reversion to his old slacker ways of structuring reality to match his needs rather than putting in the necessary work to achieve the desired results.  The result here is that both of them are kicked out of M.U. (although the rest of the OKs are admitted to the School of Scaring in response to Dean Hardscrabble’s admiration of their valiant efforts to improve themselves), but that only inspires them to take menial mailroom jobs at Monsters, Inc. in order to work themselves up to the level of success that we already knew of them from the previous (but plot-chronologically-later-set) monsters movie.  I’ll admit that some of the smaller kids in my viewing audience were getting a bit restless when this unexpected-serious-twist/running-time-extender was introduced, but from the perspective of the adults in the theatre (clearly part of Pixar’s intended demographics, as with all of their work) this challenge to the old cliché about “all you need is sweat, sweat, sweat is all you need” is a very thought-provoking addition to what otherwise is a simple story about believing in yourself, finding friendships through mutual respect rather than parallel heritage, and sharing talents rather than hoarding them.  Not bad advice but not necessarily your full line of best defense against life's wide range of challenges.

We’ll never know if Mike was able to pump himself up to his later scare potential at this earlier transitional phase of his life (even the Dean never changed her opinion on that, with good reason because in order to transcend the shame of the hoax Mike broke into our dimension and merely amused a kid, although in the process of rescuing him back into the monsters’ world Scully let out a roar that brought forth intensified energy from normally off-limits adults after Mike had set them up with a quick collection of unnerving horror movie situations), just as a lot of hard-driving movie audience members may learn to feel better about themselves after watching such fictionalized inspirational tales without ever achieving the material goals that they seek—or at least not as quickly as they’d hoped—so the lesson that proper desire can’t always equate to intended accomplishment gives a depth to Monsters University that’s both unexpected and “hardscrabble”-maturity inducing, although the final brew here is mellowed by Mike and Scully’s alternative road to success so that the final uplift collage puts us in a more optimistic mood as the credits start to roll (with one last little comedy bit at the very end to please those who stick around to see if there’s a final morsel to reward their patient awareness of seeing the names of everyone who lives in Emeryville, CA; in addition to staying late I also heartily encourage arriving early to see the pre-feature Pixar short, The Blue Umbrella [Saschka Unseld; more info at], a delightful inanimate love story with amazing textural, photographic allusions that bring joy to a storm day in the story or a stormy mood in an adult audience member about to share a feature-length screening with a theatre full of exuberant kids).  However, despite the concluding enhancement and the general level of successful interaction that we’re encouraged to have with this universe of creatures who’d never win our Miss or Mister Universe beauty/body contests, Monsters University, with all of its tried-and-true tropes about the negotiated community of college life, just isn’t quite the original-concept winner that its predecessor was.  Still, it’s well-produced, a lot of fun to follow along with, and a marvelous visual treat as computer-graphics renderings continue to evolve to superb heights of perspective illusionism and stupendous textural detail; to leave you with that sense of enjoyment, even when it’s based on a group of characters that are gloriously grotesque, I’ll encourage a trip in the Wayback Machine to 1962 with this marvelous mashup of the radio hit “The Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, illustrated in a most comic way with footage from numerous horror films, at

Someone who’s not having any fun at all, no matter how far he travels from his home base in Philadelphia, is Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former U.N. specialist trying to help save the planet from an unexpected, unexplained, seemingly unstoppable assault by the largest wave of zombies that you could ever image in World War Z.  Everything begins innocently enough (at least for those who don’t pay mindful attention to the foreboding news reports that are available to creep into our consciousness at the beginning of this movie when information about what’s misunderstood as a rabies outbreak in parts of the Third World fly right past the awareness of Gerry, wife Karin [Mireille Enos], and their daughters, Rachel [Abigail Hargrove] and Constance [Sterling Jerins]) as parents are driving their children to school and themselves to work when suddenly a huge traffic jam escalates into a scene of unmitigated chaos as crazed zombies (increasingly so the more usual kind in current media, replacing the more traditionally animated-but-lumbering, mindless-but-hungry corpses of mid-to-late-20th-century fame, although these new speedy ones still succumb with clear finality to a well-placed shot to the head) seemingly come flying (not literally, but they do propel themselves in active self-and-otherwise-destructive fashion) out of nowhere, strangely more concerned with biting than eating their prey (although all it takes is a bite to bring on zombieness; no longer do you have to fully die first) so that the ranks of the undead grow exponentially with little hope of an opposing force being able to gather enough manpower or firepower to stem the constant tides of unhumanity that are now everywhere on Earth, leaving shipboard rescue centers and isolated land areas as the only refuges.  A generally-unexplored but pithy reality here is that the combined forces of the world’s political and military systems are so quickly overwhelmed that the only hope is to offload prominent people and their families to ships, islands, and other relatively zombie-free zones for their protection while the remaining scientists among us attempt to understand the cause of the undead infestation in hopes of gaining some strategy for reversing the terrifying hurricane of death that’s already overcome most areas of the planet, while scores of unfortunates are left to fend—mostly unsuccessfully—for themselves.  This amounts to salvation for Gerry as the U. N. wants him back on duty in exchange for granting at least temporary asylum to his family on a battleship (which serves as a combination refugee camp and strategy center) while he flies off to South Korea in hopes of learning the origin of this worst-of-all-possible plagues in order to find some way of putting a stop to it.

Unfortunately, there are no answers to be found in Korea, just zombies prowling the military base where Gerry’s come with a team seeking answers.  His quest is immediately compromised when the young scientist he’s there to protect, Andrew Fassbach (Elyes Gabel), is among the first victims of a zombie attack, so now he has to improvise in a situation that’s growing more desperate by the minute, including the problem of very limited food, petrol, and information in the few remaining human enclaves, along with a very fragile global communications system so it’s hard to gather or exchange necessary findings.  However, he does learn that a wall was quickly built around Jerusalem even as the crisis was in its infancy so he and his small team of commandoes are off to the Mideast to find out why the Israelis seemingly had such early-warning knowledge of the coming catastrophe.  Sadly for the mission that Gerry is on, the only answer from the authorities in Jerusalem is that standard operating policy for decades has been to prepare for the worst, even when it seemed unlikely, so that’s all that led to their wall, although those now within it feel very comfortable because of their protective barrier.  In fact, they prove too secure, celebrating their safety in too triumphant a fashion despite Gerry’s warning that loud noise draws the attention of the zombies who assault the wall essentially as a hive of nonhuman ants, clambering over each other until some of them breach the top, followed by others who quickly compromise the secure zone by biting and infecting all around them, thereby creating more monsters than can be fought off (the response time from bite to transformation is very quick, with little attempt on the part of the biters to then consume their victims so these aren’t your parents’ zombies who have to reanimate after death but simply become these grotesque creatures upon infection exposure).  Gerry’s newest associate, a young female Israeli soldier, Segen (Daniella Kertesz), makes a good example of this situation as she’s bitten so Gerry gallantly cuts off her left hand before the infection spreads onward through her body (he also helps her crudely wrap up the stump so as to try to prevent other infections as they board a barely-escaping plane bound for the relatively-safe area of Cardiff, Wales, both to get her some medical attention and for him to work with World Heath Organization scientists there in a last-ditch effort to figure out some sort of cure or survival strategy).  It’s clear by this point that we’ve moved far beyond the usual realm of zombie movies where the goal is to hold fast in one besieged community waiting for superior combat forces to reverse the tide of the attack; everywhere the situation is getting more hopeless, including for Jerry’s family who are being moved from their shipboard sanctuary to a land refuge in Nova Scotia, as the ship must be used more as a command post and a floating camp for those most actively trying to plot a counteroffensive, given that contact with Jerry is too intermittent just as his efforts so far are proving fruitless.

However, even on his seemingly safe airplane, chaos breaks out again as a stowaway zombie wrecks havoc in the rear compartment (Those noisy people in Tourist Class are always so difficult!), soon biting enough new victims to endanger the stability of the flight.  In what could only be justified as a desperation move Gerry activates a hand grenade which rips a huge hole through the fuselage, sucking many of the zombies out of the cabin but also leading to a disastrous crash landing, survived of course only by Gerry and Segen who stumble their way to the intended research facility in order to get help for her severed hand wound and some hope for his desperate attempt to find a counterstrategy against the constantly rampaging monsters, some of whom are now in a blocked-off wing of the medical research complex (they were all employees there before infection).  With Segen properly attended to, Gerry finally gets a revelation that he’s seen zombies rush right past certain people during his hastily-arranged travels, leading to the conclusion that these passed-by non-victims were suffering from diseases so that the attuned undead didn’t want to bring a different type of infection into their prey-focused bodies, thereby rendering the sick that they ignored as virtually invisible to them.  In order to test this theory, Gerry must lead a small team into the zombie-infested regions of the research complex in order to gather up samples of some of the previous-most-deadly-diseases-known-to-humankind in order to see if some form of controlled infection might be a workable defense against zombie perceptions.  Of course this proves to be a difficult mission, both in eluding and terminating the undead scavengers that roam these forbidden labs, but in the end he triumphs by getting to the dangerous pathogen samples, infecting himself, and returning unscathed to the safe zone of the complex, where an antidote is administered to him, followed by the rapid manufacture of an effective inoculation against zombie perceptions, allowing many fleeing humans to simply escape their adversaries unnoticed while armed humans are able to attack their unsuspecting tables-turned-opponents in a wildly-extended concept from the original story of The Invisible Man (not the brilliant Ralph Ellison 1952 novel about race relations—or, better yet, lack of them as the Black narrator is essentially a nonentity to the White society around him—but the fictional H.G. Welles 1897 one about a man who discovers a means of cloaking himself from the visual perception of those in his proximity which allows him to perform bodily harm to his neighbors at will).  Gerry notes in final voiceover (after being reunited with his family) that the war against the zombies is far from over, but now there is great hope for the survival of humanity, even though neither the source of the virus that caused this plague nor its initial introduction to the human population has ever been determined.  So, once again, saved by the bell, this time rung by one of the various Sexiest Men Alive, Mr. Pitt (although the similarities here to I Am Legend [1954 book by Richard Matheson, most recent cinematic adaption starring Will Smith and directed by Francis Lawrence (2007)], are noticeable, despite the monsters in the various versions of this other story being more like vampires and the human race even closer to the eve of destruction [can’t resist, here’s one of the most negative social statements ever to be a hit on the radio at http://, with the sad situation that these 1965 lyrics still aren't outdated], but we can't let narrative borrowing negate our beat-the-zombies joy, now can we?).

I certainly can’t complain about exquisite production values (more so here than in most other 3-D renderings I’ve seen lately, this one makes useful applications of the technology, so it’s probably worth the extra cash if you choose to see it), well-crafted suspense scenes in the Wales labs, or solid acting by all concerned (Pitt, especially, plays it all seriously and successfully), but when this current zombie rush is finally in the midst of being put to rest you just have to wonder what this latest assault of/on the undead has to offer to an ongoing series of movies that continue to pursue a morbid fascination with the horrible thought that even death is not the final horror that many people fear it to be (maybe this is just another cultural displacement and modern humanistic equivalent of the age-old terrors of condemnation to the zombie-like netherworld of the Greeks, Hades, or the more actively-punishing conflagrations of the Christian Hell, with the Frankenstein monster an embodiment of a “scientifically”-based-even-worse-concept-of-life-after-death from the 1930s through the mid-‘60s, followed by an avalanche of various contributions to the zombie canon since then, with some early contributor somnambulists/ reanimators haunting the screen since the days of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [Robert Weine, 1919], White Zombie [Victor Halperin, 1932] and I Walked with a Zombie [Jacques Tourneur, 1943]—a fabulous resource list of such movies is available at _films).  We get a lot of effectively-produced sound and fury here but while it signifies more than nothing in World War Z it doesn’t exactly transcend the standard long-established concepts about zombie intrusions upon stable society with any conceptual significance, just a lot of polish in the rendition of ghastly attacks.  In my (some would say zombie-like brain-dead) opinion, you’d be better off by ignoring this latest depiction of reanimated monsters and just listening to tunes sung by The Zombies, especially “She’s Not There” (1964), with video footage from the TV sci-fi classic The Outer Limits (for some unknown reason but it’s fun to watch) at z8A.  Or, if you’d rather stay a bit closer to World War Z, you could revisit the music that’s clearly evoked in its soundtrack, Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (from the 1973 album of the same name, with a brief usage in the soundtrack of The Exorcist [William Friedkin, 1973]).  You can find lots of versions of it, but this 8 min. live performance at d48 is relatively short compared to some others you might choose and is appropriately haunting and mesmerizing in its execution (however, if you just want to recall the original spooky tune used sparingly in Friedkin’s film but also that went on to be a radio hit here it is at com/watch?v=bYmIKcP7Nbc).  Or, if you’d prefer your monsters in a more light-hearted vein, maybe you should link up with that fake M.U. website noted above and just sing along with their campus anthem (it’s gotta be in there somewhere with all of that other marvelous nonsense).  Either way, beware of things that go either bump (probably Sully tripping over something) or clack-clack (these new zombies just can’t seem to keep their teeth still) in the night until I see you next.

If you want to know more about Monsters University here are some suggested links: (a 44:31 interview with director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae for a Talks at Google feature [Am I trying to suck up to my software overlords? Perish the thought, although I can probably use all of the help I can get after my comments about The Internship (Shawn Levy; review posted in this blog on June 14, 2013).]Please note the appropriate use of grammatical parenthetical punctuation marks within three levels of commentary; you can’t teach that s**t.  [Believe me, I tried.])

If you dig (up) zombies and want to know more about World War Z here are some suggested links: (a 6:35 min exploration of what the original ending of World War Z was intended to be, although the released ending is VERY different from what’s discussed above, not that what was actually shown was any better than what is described here although it seems to have been a lot more complicated)

Sadly, the Movie Intelligence site for film review consolidations is no more; here’s their final statement at

We encourage you to look over our home page (ABOUT THE BLOG), found as the first one in our December 2011 postings, to get more information on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.  You’ll also see our general Spoiler Alert warning that reminds you we’ll be discussing whatever plot details are needed for our comments so please be aware of this when reading any of our reviews and be aware of our formatting forewarning about inconsistencies among web browser software which we do our best to correct but may still cause some visual problems beyond our control, as well as problems we’ve encountered with the Google RSS Feed Alert when used in conjunction with iGoogle and Google Reader.

Please note that to Post a Comment you need to either have a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile.    Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.


  1. I liked WW Z and recommend it strongly even though I usually hate Zombie, government takeover and end of the world movies because they are usually sooooo ridiculous. This one has a definable intelligence quotient and has Brad Pitt [at this point I will sit through anything he does regardless of how lame it seems].

    WW Z has a screenplay which is not a total rehash of everything else we have seen [quoting a prominent but unnamed critic A generally-unexplored but pithy reality here is that the combined forces of the world’s political and military systems are so quickly overwhelmed that the only hope is to offload prominent people and their families to ships, islands, and other relatively zombie-free zones for their protection while the remaining scientists among us attempt to understand the cause of the undead infestation in hopes of gaining some strategy for reversing the terrifying hurricane of death that’s already overcome most areas of the planet, while scores of unfortunates are left to fend—mostly unsuccessfully—for themselves ]. It does this while excelling in production values and while providing a quite convincing zombie scientist in the final (well maybe not final] sequence.

    I understand that the film makers completely trashed the original Red Square battle ending [Brad Pitt fighting Zombies] and went back to work with a new script which created the last 45 minutes. In addition, apparently the film makers also procured fully functional assault weapons at one point which resulted in a raid by European counter terrorist forces! Maybe it is time to limit assault weapons when Hollywood can buy in quantity and ship them successfully into Europe. I guess the film makers have demonstrated that the current crop of ridiculous White House invasion movies are not so implausible.

    The gratuitous violence is moderated compared to most these days, at least the amount graphically displayed. The feel of the production was that of classic sci fi with obvious references to the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers directed by Don Siegel and starring Kevin McCarthy. An all time classic with no easy answers.

  2. Hi rj, Thanks as always for being the active other Guy in the Dark (Pat's disappeared into the Phantom Zone) and for your thoughtful comments here. You provide a good counterpoint to what I was saying and, I have to admit, World War Z is certainly one of the best zombie movies around (whether that's damning with faint praise is up for reader consideration). I also agree with you regarding Pitt's consistent watchability and the need for Hollywood moviemakers to use plastic weapons if they don't want to see the real thing show up in Damascus.

    Glad to hear from you. The heat in my area has finally hit Texas summer proportions this weekend so it feels like I could easily be back in the Lone Star State. Ken

  3. Hi Alexandra and All Readers of this comment, I clicked on the above 5 links and was asked to create an account, give a credit card number (which was guaranteed to not be charged), then had to download a Bonzuna player or an iLivid setup, etc. to see the film (a situation I've encountered before where I tried to download Windows apps that don't work with my Mac). So, I can't verify anything further about this opportunity to see Monsters University for free, but I'll leave this notification here for anyone that might benefit from it.

    I have to assume for now that this is somehow legitimate and legal, but I take no responsibility for anyone's use of this link. If any problem develops I'll delete the above comment from Alexandra, but, until such a situation might arise, I'll leave this here for anyone who can appropriately take advantage of this offer. I hope you enjoy watching this movie if the needed technology works for you. However, I don't have time to investigate links like this in the future so if anyone else offers such links in their comments I'm just going to delete them. Ken Burke

  4. It's now June 2014 and I have just learned Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks, wrote the original World War Z novel. Max was on Bill Maher's HBO show and demonstrated a sharp mind and political savy. Brad Pitt's production company had bought the rights to the novel which was then significantly rewritten. The original more complex plot is summarized in this wikipedia article. Perhaps WW Z2 (in planning) will use the original novel's storyline next time.