[caption id="attachment_182295" align="alignleft" width="300"] Pixar[/caption]
This week: See how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) first met in college in "Monsters University," Pixar's animated prequel to "Monsters, Inc."
Also new this week is "R.I.P.D.," a supernatural comedy starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as two cops tasked with managing ghostly activity on Earth, and "Byzantium," Neil Jordan's atmospheric vampire film starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton.
[caption id="attachment_207689" align="alignright" width="220"] Pixar[/caption]
Box Office: $267 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 78% Fresh
Storyline: In this prequel to Pixar's animated blockbuster "Monsters, Inc.," we get to see how the pint-sized walking green eyeball Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) met towering furry beast James P. Sullivan, aka Sully (John Goodman), at college. Although the two mismatched monsters don't like each other at first, "Monsters University" shows how these two overcame their differences to become BFFs.
Extras!: "Monsters University" comes in a bare-bones DVD/Blu-ray combo with no extras as well as a collector's edition Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack with the sure-to-be-Oscar-nominated short film "The Blue Umbrella," commentary and making-of/behind-the-scenes featurettes like "Story School," "Campus Life," "Scare Games," "Monthropology," "Welcome to MU," "Music Appreciation," "Scare Tactics," "Furry Monsters: A Technical Retropsective," "Paths to Pixar: MU Edition," set flythroughs, an art gallery and deleted scenes. There is also another combo pack available for about $5 more that includes a Blu-ray 3D of the movie.
We Say: Although it doesn't quite live up to its predecessor or other Pixar classics that have more to offer older viewers, "Monsters University" is still a zany, colorful, beautifully computer-animated romp that will delight the little school-age monsters living in your house for years to come.
[caption id="attachment_207690" align="alignright" width="220"] Universal[/caption]
Box Office: $34 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 13% Rotten
Storyline: Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds headline this supernatural action-adventure as two cops dispatched by the Rest in Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) to protect the living from the increasingly destructive spirits hiding among us. The partners discover a plot that could end life as we know it and must restore the cosmic balance before the tunnel to the afterlife starts sending angry souls the wrong way. Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker also star in this wannabe blockbuster directed by Robert Schwentke.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a short EPK-style piece, gag reel and deleted scenes. Blu-ray exclusives include alternate openings, "Anatomy of a Shootout," "Walking Among Us: Deados & Avatars," "'R.I.P.D.' Motion Comics: Bringing the Avatars to Life," "Filming the Other Side" and "Nick's New Avatars." The movie is also available on Blu-ray 3D in a combo pack.
We Say: Nothing works in this summer stinker that feels as if Bridges wandered off the set of "True Grit" in character to slum it and earn overtime in this disaster loosely based on the comic of the same name. He has awkward chemistry with Reynolds that's supposed to play like the odd-couple pairing in "Men in Black," but everything that works in that franchise just fails here. You'd be better off checking out the "Men in Black" trilogy again for comedy mixed with supernatural shenanigans and leaving "R.I.P.D." buried.
[caption id="attachment_207688" align="alignright" width="220"] IFC Films[/caption]
Box Office: $85,252
Rotten Tomatoes: 61% Fresh
Storyline: Introverted Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and her outgoing mother, Clara (Gemma Arterton), are a nomadic vampire daughter and mother who wreak havoc on a small English seaside town in this supernatural drama directed by Neil Jordan. The duo shack up at the seedy Byzantium Hotel where Clara works hard to keep their secrets while Eleanor desperately wants to share her story with a new friend — a decision that has disastrous consequences for everyone.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain many cast-and-crew interviews.
We Say: Jordan is two for two with regard to vampire movies after this and "Interview With the Vampire." Ronan makes you feel the weight or her character's 200-year-old secret while Arterton is sympathetic as the undead mother who will do anything to protect the daughter she initially gave up at birth. "Byzantium" is dark, seductive and offers a new twist on the usual vampire mythology, making it a must-see for connoisseurs of more sophisticated genre offerings like "The Hunger" and "Let Me In."
Also New This Week:
"The King of Comedy" Blu-ray
"Cars" Blu-ray 3D
"Family Tree": The Complete First Season
"Damages": The Complete Series
"Beauty of the Devil" Blu-ray