Saturday, June 28, 2008
I must have been looking forward to Wall-E for the better part of a year and a half now. Its really interesting how with every Pixar movie when you first hear their wildly creative idea you know next to nothing on how they'll flesh it out into a full-length movie but every single time they deliver in spades, I mean, even Cars their only lame looking movie turned out a LOT better than it looked. With Wall-E for half of the time I was hyped up for it all I knew was that it would largely be without dialogue and was loosely based off of the Charlie Chaplin film City Lights. Pair that with the fact that Andrew Stanton is an animation god to me between his screenwriting on the Toy Story movies and writing/directing Finding Nemo (which to many is the best Pixar film) and I'd have enough reason to be really excited for this. I felt a little uneasy about the early marketing for Wall-E with half the teaser devoted to ranking Wall-E up there with Pixar's other classics and their Superbowl Ad playing off of the character recognition of Buzz and Woody. I guess that's what it took to really sell Wall-E as a character, most of the advertising now just highlights just how enticing this little robot is.
Onward to movies I saw this week:
Wall-E - I caught a late showing of this yesterday and the theater was only about a quarter full. This is a bit disappointing for me especially after the entertaining but cinematically disappointing Kung Fu Panda is raking in big money at the box offiice. Unlike Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E is a movie that could care less about marketability, merchandising and big name stars as voice actors in fact with the exception of the obligatory John Ratzenberger voice role the strongest star power the movie has going for it is Ben Burtt of Star Wars fame's work on the sound effects for the movie. Of Course, any movie that would portray the owner of Buy-N-Large as the president of the world back five hundred years ago would want anything less than to be labeled as a corporate money grab.
As someone who kept up on every screenshot and every second that got released for this movie, I'd have to say that my expectations were ridiculously high for this movie and I was probably more hyped up for it than even Ratatouille (and I bought the Art book for that one before I saw it) and it was up there with The Dark Knight when it came to my most anticipated films of the year. Luckily Wall-E delivered every single expectation I had for it and then some, like every joke in the movie contributed to the story in some way and there was a ton of subtlety in the animation in others.
Comparisons to Sylvain Chomet's 2003 animated film The Triplets of Belleville would be inevitable. Both Wall-E and Belleville featured next to no dialogue and humans portrayed as amorphous blobs and Wal-mart shoppers. What's interesting is that unlike the Triplets of Belleville which just felt sour and artificial to me, Wall-E was largely entertaining even outside of its social commentary. Even though Wall-E blamed the end of the world on the Buy-N-Large corporation the humans were shown as good natured beings with the real villain really being their over reliance on technology. It was a bittersweet message for a film with such a depressing and dark opening scene. One could also compare the feelings of isolation to the first half or so of last year's I Am Legend especially comparing Wall-E's cockroach to Will Smith's German Shepard though apart from that Wall-E is a WAY better film than I Am Legend was, even at its best parts.
Wall-E is easily my favorite movie of the year so far and its every bit as strong as Finding Nemo and Ratatoille before it. I'm not sure yet whether or not I'd rank it as high as the original Toy Story quite yet but really its hard to rank Pixar movies because they are all amazing in their own unique ways. See it, see it twice, and whatever you do don't see Wanted, you'll be glad you did.
Air Guitar Nation - I picked this one up from the library because I'm a sucker for serious documentaries about ridiculous subjects. This one felt a lot like a lighter less dramatic version of The King of Kong: a Fistful of Quarters. While it certainly had a lot of funny moments, it ran a bit too long for my tastes and it was only about an 80 minute movie to begin with. Its worth seeing solely for the energetic performances and its surprisingly good licensed soundtrack. Good but not worth repeated viewings.