One of the summer seasons most highly anticipated movies is here and it’s WALL-E, a very ambitious undertaking by the king of animation, Pixar studios ( Finding Nemo, The Incredibles ). Part love story, part eco-cautionary tale, Wall-E mixes the feel of I am Legend and 2001 A Space Odyssey with the poetry of a Charlie Chaplin film sprinkled in. The beautifully designed visual marvel has already gathered immense praise from critics (97% positive reaction from Rottentomatoes.com) but I think Wall-E might perplex many in the general audience looking for a simpler, more straightforward, narrative as this is extremely sophisticated and almost too smart for its own good.
The title character. Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class), is a charmer. A cute little robot with sad binocular eyes who has been left on earth to remove the garbage left behind in the now barren wasteland of the 29th century as pollution has driven away what’s left of humanity into outer space. Alongside his only companion, a cockroach, Wall-E goes about his business until he meets and falls for Eve, a sleek bullet shaped Robot sent to earth on a mission to find some form of life. It’s here in the film’s first 40 minutes that Wall-E takes on a poetic artistry. After some captivating scenes of the two bots bonding, Wall-E follows Eve into outer space. That’s where director Andrew Stanton takes the opportunity to make some interesting and funny commentary about the future of the human condition, and it’s not pretty. It’s also at this point in the story where things start to unwind a bit for me. The whole movie starts to drag on and become less interesting until it wraps itself up with a nice heartfelt conclusion.
There’s no doubt Wall-E is an ambitious undertaking and I recommend seeing it on the big screen for the many visual pleasures and insightful observations. I just wish it was a little more involving in its overall story as I was never totally sucked into the Wall-E universe during the film’s second half. Its strength, which is its silent beauty, is also its weakness. The longer it goes on (especially when more characters are introduced) the more its appeal starts to wear thin. Still, it has a great main character in Wall-E. It’s visually stunning and has more than a few big ideas. Plus, the look on my two and a half year old daughter’s face (her mouth was wide open for at least two minutes) when Wall-E first comes on screen is something I’ll always remember.
According to Fandango.com there have already been a high number of advanced sellouts for midnight showings of THE DARK KNIGHT when it opens July 18th. Even with great early advance reviews hitting the net it’s really hard to predict how huge this film might be. While BATMAN BEGINS was great, it only grossed a solid, if not spectacular, 200 Mill domestically. Those certainly aren’t bad numbers, but it isn’t the 400 Mil of a SPIDER MAN outing. That’s mostly because the Batman character has a darker appeal and some parents keep there younger kids away. My gut feeling tells me THE DARK KNIGHT will have extensive repeat viewing, putting this one way past the 300 million mark here at home. I can’t wait to see it!
Early reviews for the Will Smith vehicle HANCOCK are pretty divided. The film clocks in at a scarce 90 minute running time with end credits. That’s a sign at least to me that there was significant editing. All reports have the movie tracking through the roof with a possible $150 million 6 day opening when it hits theaters on Tuesday. The one thing Will can do is open a movie big!