Gag-packed animated comedy prequel MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (U: Walt Disney) takes the heroes of Pixar’s Monsters, Inc back to their college days before Mike and Sulley became best buddies.
The pair (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman) are thrown together in a fraternity of cowardly nerds and misfits.And they’re set a series of tasks under the watchful eye of Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) to prove they deserve to graduate with the scariest of the scarers.
But their rivalry gets them both kicked off the course and the monstrous duo must learn how to work together if they are to realise their dreams of terrifying children.
Director Dan Scanlon relishes placing the much-loved characters in a fresh environment and, while the nods to live-action frat comedies down the years come thick and fast, they never detract from what Pixar does so well every time – telling a great story.
> Eight years after The Wedding Crashers, in which they made a winning double act, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn just go through the motions in clunky comedy THE INTERNSHIP (12: Twentieth Century Fox).
They play old-school salesmen who find their careers derailed by changes in technology and are forced to seek greener pastures after being made redundant.
Google HQ in California turns out to be that garden paradise as they manage to get internships in a film that plays like a recruitment video.
Wilson and Vaughn battle to come to terms with modern business methods while competing against much younger rivals in a random and increasingly tedious series of challenges.
The Harry Potter-loving whizz kids get their kicks playing a game of Quidditch, but it falls to the older guys to show them how to have some real fun. Sadly, this feel-good factor doesn’t translate to the viewer in a film that boasts a hi-tech backdrop, but is still an old banger of a comedy.
> A rift between dimensions opens up at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and Earth is invaded by gigantic alien monsters in PACIFIC RIM (12: Warner), a cheesy hybrid of Transformers and Godzilla.
Earth’s resistance, led by Idris Elba (TV’s Luther), consists of colossal robots operated by two humans sharing a neurological connection.
Yet there’s little romantic chemistry between co-pilots Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in this sci-fi adventure from Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro.
Too much downtime between epic battles means an over-reliance on macho drama and silly dialogue, although when the supersized creatures face off against their towering iron giant opponents, it does become an engaging muddle of weird monsters and hardware. At least Del Toro provides a few of his signature visual flourishes in a dumb but fun offering.
> THE GREAT GATSBY (12: Warner), the latest adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great literary work, is full of razzmatazz.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby, the new-money millionaire throwing lavish parties to win back his Long Island neighbour’s fragile cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) having lost her to playboy heir Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Di Caprio puts in a highly polished performance and director Baz Luhrmann makes the jazz age shiny and new again with lavish sets and a score that blends Gershwin and Jay-Z.
Tobey Maguire offers a critical perspective on the culture of excess as Nick, the cousin and co-conspirator.