Three good surprises in theaters

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 6/24/2013 11:40 am

On Twitter: @JamesEppler

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"Monsters University" is a nice rebound for Pixar from the forgettable "Brave" and the dreadful "Cars 2." But they're still reaching back in the well.
In this prequel to the 12-years-old "Monsters Inc." Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their roles as Mike and Sully,  in college.

They're not fast friends, and they wind up in a fraternity of losers for a scare competition. There are some very funny things in "Monsters U," even if the story is totally unoriginal. But the strong focus on characters makes it a cut above.

There's not a lot of originality in "World War Z," either, but there are more than a few jump-out-of-your-seat moments. It's easily the most intense movie of the summer so far.

Based on the book by Max Brooks, Brad Pitt is a former UN problem solver called back in to find solutions when a virus spreads, turning people into zombies. The sheer panic and mob mentality are terrifically captured on screen with some amazing visuals. These are no walking dead - they're fast, and so's the movie.

Sure, there are better zombie movies, but "World War Z" pulls you in from the get-go and keeps you rapt with tension.

There's a different kind of tension happening in "Before Midnight - the third movie about a couple that first met 18 years ago on a train in "Before Sunrise,"  It's thick with dialogue and meaning, as a couple's fairy tale love story has melted into reality.

Directed by Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater, who wrote the movie with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and set in Greece, this movie is equally beautiful and brutal, impeccably acted. It's different than anything you'll see this summer in the best possible way.

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