Monsters University, Now You See Me, Pacific Rim

It’s 12 years since Monsters Inc was released by Pixar, but Monsters University isn’t a look at how school kids have grown up, rather it's an ‘origins story’ or prequel in which we learn how the main characters in the first film got to be the people – or rather monsters – they became.

Monsters University

Rating 8/10  U  110 mins

It’s 12 years since Monsters Inc was released by Pixar, but Monsters University isn’t a look at how school kids have grown up, rather it's an ‘origins story’ or prequel in which we learn how the main characters in the first film got to be the people – or rather monsters – they became. We find that Mike - the small Cyclops-like monster - was a bookish nerd, while Sully was a naturally scary slacker. Many of the usual Pixar themes are here such as teamwork and friendship, and the animation is top class. There are some good jokes for the adults – although some of these are based around US university stereotypes and so may go over the heads of UK adults as well as their children. If we’re are looking for biblical imagery, one is literally staring us in the face: the student who is just an eye who works together with the dopey strong one to complete the task. St Paul should sue! MU is accompanied by The Blue Umbrella, a short that will charm the adults in the audience.

Now You See Me

Rating 7½/10  12A  115 mins

A team of street magicians are formed into a troupe called The Four Horseman and perform a series of daring tricks which rob the rich to give money to the poor. They are hip and stylish and if this were real, they would be the hottest property on the planet. However, it’s just a film and so the tricks lose some of their, ahem, 'magic'. We know that little we see on screen is real and so there it’s hard to be too impressed by the magicians’ shows. It’s not just smoke and mirrors, its CGI too. The leads are all charismatic and the dialogue is sufficiently witty to make this an entertaining romp. NYSM could be said to raise questions about the ethics  of an end justifying a means, but that’s probably taking this caper film too seriously. As with street magic, it’s best not to look too closely. As one character in the film says, “The closer you think you are, the less you'll actually see.”

Pacific Rim 

Rating 7½/10  12A  131 mins

Guillermo del Toro is a fan of Japanese monster and robot films and he brings these two ideas together in Pacific Rim. Skyscraper-sized monsters come out of a fissure in the ocean bed at increasingly frequent intervals and wreak havoc on the eastern and western shores of the Pacific. Walls won’t stop them, but robots of a similar size to the monsters seem to have some effect. These robots are each piloted by two people who are neurologically linked. For best results, they are usually related. The exception that proves this rule is when a rough tough American pilot is paired with a young shy and retiring Japanese woman. However, the way this future is lovingly created is impressive. While the story-line is futuristic, the plot and dialogue could have come from any number of films from the past, and Independence Day and Top Gun come to mind. It’s all good fun, although seeing one computer generated monster battle another computer generated robot does get a little tedious. It’s worth staying to the end of the credits to see one of the best, if not the only joke in the film.

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