Monday, June 30, 2008

WALL-E - Movie Review

My new acronym - CGA - Computer Generated Animation - What Pixar does.

WALL-E (****) - Starring Fred Willard and the voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, John Ratzenberger and Kathy Najimy.
Directed by Andrew Stanton.

First we get previews.

Fly Me to the Moon - CGA movie about three astronaut flies who stowaway aboard the space shuttle. Looks cutesy, boring and for the under-six crowd. Opens August 22.

Meet Dave - The more I see of this, the less I want to see it. I used to think it would beat out Journey to the Center of the Earth on that weekend, but now I think Journey has a clear edge, and this will have Pluto Nash-esque numbers. It reminds me too much of Honey I Shrunk the Kids 4. Opens July 11.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl - It's already opened in limited release and it's getting rave reviews. This trailer would have been better served if it was 30 seconds shorter. Opens wide July 2.

Journey to the Center of the Earth - Looks like a fun little family adventure. Honest. It's been forever since I read the book and looks like it will stray generously. It has a T-Rex and giant man-eating plants left over from the King Kong remake. Opens July 11.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua - This teaser has a bunch of chihuahuas singing and dancing without any real hint of what the movie's going to be, beyind the talking dogs thing. Opens October 3.

Bolt - First time I've seen anything for this CGA movie, and it looks entertaining. John Travolta voices the title dog, who plays an action hero on TV and thinks everything on it is real. When the actress from the show disappears, he sets out to rescue her. Opens November 26.

No Igor, no Space Chimps, no Gnomeo & Juliet, no Foodfight, no Coraline, no Tales of Desperaux, no Madagascar 2 or Ice Age 3, but I would have liked to see a teaser for Pixar's 2009 release Up. C'est la vie.

Next up was the Pixar short Presto, about a magician and his hungry rabbit. That's all I'll say but it was hilarious in the old Looney Tunes tradition.

And then came our feature presentation.

Wall-E is almost a silent movie. Lots of music and mechanical noises and tweaks. The kind of movie I wish Buster Keaton could go forward in time and watch.

Ultimately it's a love story between two artificial intelligences, and it's weird I could get misty-eyed during such a story but Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) really knows how to find the heart in his movies, and he delivers big-time here.

I find the group at Pixar a bunch of geniuses, and if I went back in time to my 1991 self graduating from high school, I'd pack up and hunt down John Lasseter and Steve Jobs and beg to work for them.

Wall-E isn't the most accessible Pixar flick, or their funniest, but it deserves all the praise heaped upon it. Now at the risk of overselling it, it's as quiet in its scope as it detailed in its backgrounds. The animation is very precise here, to where it's almost hard to tell when real footage has been used.

The first half hour or so we see Wall-E carrying out his duties. It's 700 years in the future, and he's the last A.I. robot of his kind, assigned with cleaning up all the trash left behind on a pollution-devastated Earth. His only companion is a cockroach, which thankfully does not talk. It reminded me a lot of Cast Away, where Tom Hanks doesn't talk much and just finding ways of surviving and passing the time.

And that's about all the story I'll give away. The previews give away a lot more.

Pixar can do no wrong.

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