Friday, June 27, 2008


WALL-E is PIXARs latest (9th) feature film and takes place in the year 2700, long after the Earth has been vacated by the human race. Wall-E (which stands for ‘Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth-Class’) is one of the robots left on Earth to clean up the mess left by all the “un–green” people. (Don’t get me started on that topic!!) Whether all the other robots have totally broken down or someone just didn’t turn WALL-E off is not explained, but who cares, it’s not important. WALL-E is more human than robotic, he collects knick-knacks he finds as he continues his clean up and displays a child’s curiosity as to what it is all about. You find yourself relating to him instantly. He especially loves watching his VCR tape of HELLO DOLLY, which he seems totally enthralled with. WALL-E has a single friend on Earth, a small cockroach that is also his companion.

One day, a probe visits Earth from “out there” and WALL-E is introduced to EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), a probe robot and with that the story really begins. Our hero finds himself in love with this new entity and tries his best, in ways we can all relate to, to get her to notice him. I won’t go into any more details; I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Finally, here is a movie that I can unreservedly say is good for the whole family. The story line is a simple one and was actually conceived before TOY STORY. This is a sweet tale of love and adventure, one that anyone of any age can relate to and enjoy. The story is smooth and well thought out. There are no scary parts for the little ones and not even a hint of improper language (from what dialog there is, since our robot stars say very little). The story is full of excitement and humor aimed at everyone.

The CGI effects are by far the best I have seen yet. PIXAR has always held the top of that category, but they have exceeded themselves with this one. It is just amazing how you can have such rich character development with these animated characters without the need of dialog. It is wonderful and refreshing.

WALL-E is directed by Andrew Stanton who also directed FINDING NEMO and A BUGS LIFE. He also did the screenplay for W
ALL-E as well as FINDING NEMO, MONSTERS INC., A BUGS LIFE, TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2, so you know what to expect if you have seen those other films. On another subject, I see that he and PIXAR are also starting on Edgar Rice Burroughs, JOHN CARTER OF MARS. But, we’ll have to wait until 2012 for that one! I loved those stories when I was younger.

The bottom line here is that WALL-E is by far the best, most entertaining film I’ve seen in a long time. It is one of those rare gems that you can see over and over again and still enjoy it. With no hesitation, this one gets a 10 out of 10 on my humble rating scale. Go see it!

PS: The short animated feature, also done by PIXAR, before the WALL-E main feature is also very good and very clever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008



I originally wasn’t going to waste my time or money on this film because it looked like just another boring CGI video game type film. But, I was gifted with free tickets to see a pre-release of the film, so, since the price was right I went.

There are two groups of people who will go to this film. The first and larger of the two is the Hulk/Superhero/comic book crowd. The second are those folks who are just going to see a movie who might like action/adventure/special effects and the like. So, this review will try to address both groups and I’ll use pluses and minuses so you can judge for yourself.

THE STORY: After the MARVEL Logo and during the opening credits in the background, the story is shown of how the Hulk became the Hulk. Those who know the story will be glad to know that it is not rehashed yet again since it is not really important to the story anyway. This is a plus for Hulk fans since they know this part in gory detail, I’m sure, and this is a plus for those who are not Hulk fans because is gives the story of what happened with just enough detail to establish the plot.

The actual story opens with our hero, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) living in secret in Brazil, searching for a cure to his affliction. He is in hiding because he knows the evil government of the good old U.S. of A. is after him to be able to develop new bio-weapons from his blood that carries his condition. At the same time he is taking anger management training in order to control his “episodes” of becoming the Hulk (he converts when he gets too angry or emotional). But alas, the evil General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), U.S. Army run amok, finds out our hero’s location and sends in a team to retrieve him under the command of Captain Emil Blonsky, a power hungry soldier who is the antithesis of our hero,. This is where the running begins … there is so much running in this movie I almost wanted to yell out “Run, Forest, Run!” The running is a definite minus for everyone.

Next our hero, now more desperate than ever to find his cure, returns home to try to retrieve necessary data on the experiment that caused his problem. There he is reunited with the love of his life Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), not to be confused with Betsy Ross of US flag fame, who just happens to be the daughter of head bad guy General Ross (surprise, surprise). There they rekindle their “whatever it was” relationship which is climaxed when “Daddy” finds Bruce again and sets Blonsky, who has been genetically altered, after him again … there is a lot more running here.

Now the scene switches to “New York, New York, that wonderful town”, where Bruce and Betty hook up with a scientist who has been anonymously working with Bruce on a cure. But, unbeknownst to our comic book heroes, but not to us, “Daddy” knows where they are and sends the more genetically altered Blonsky to get him yet again. You’d think they’d learn that the script is fixed! Blonsky gets to be transformed into an anti-Hulk and there is a long, too long fight scene between the two that contains way too much running. That’s the story without much in the way of spoilers.

The Pluses and Minuses: Now here is my take on what I saw. The first thing the stuck out in my mind was the movie soundtrack music, or title music, that was played during the opening credits and background story. It was TERRIBLE! Those of you who know me, know I love movie music. I have a large collection of movie soundtracks and themes and even have a Movie Music Game I developed. Let me tell you that this was the most uninspiring collection of non-representative music I’ve heard in ages. Enough said; big minus for me there.

On the same subject, about ½ ways through the movie, the music score playing in the background sounded like it was being played on an old vinyl record on a turntable being turned by hand. It was so awful that it was distracting. It wasn’t a problem with the film because the dialog seemed to be in syc. Where are the quality control people? I hope all the releases don’t have this problem. Another big minus here.

Character development; what character development? There was some development on the part of the Bruce Banner character and I don’t like William Hurt anyway, so he was a typical bad guy. But, I didn’t give a hoot what happened to any of them. There was no sincerity and no wanted to cheer other than that the film was finally over. Overall the acting was sub-par. Yet another minus here.

The CGI (computer graphics), I must admit, were better than I expected, but by no means more than adequate. The biggest problem with the CGI I had was in the direction. The scenes and movement of the characters was much too fast to follow, which left me asking “What is happening? What just happened?” to the point that the plot disappeared. This was more so in the final battle scenes … enough is enough, overkill (no pun intended), but I suppose they were playing toward the video game crowd so they can sell the new Hulk video game soon to be released. I hate it when everyone is motivated by money. So the CGI would be pluses for the video crowd, but minuses for the plot/story crowd.

The story line and plot had nothing at all new. It’s the same old story hashed out yet again with different effects and a few different plot threads. The whole story has 3 stories that are all the same … look for cure, get found out, transform into the Hulk, have fight, run away. The only difference with each being is that each fight is a little longer and more violent than the previous one. And for originality, there is a scene in the film where the Hulk and Betty are on a cliff in the Smokies … this scene immediately reminded me of scenes in the original KING KONG with Fay Wray even to the point that the scene looked like it was almost black and white. Like I said, there is nothing original here, just more minuses for me.

I must say there were a few good funny lines in the story that were really good, but just not enough to put it up there with IRON MAN, for instance. Also, there were several cameos in the movie which were great. To me, these were the only high points of the movie.

The Bottom Line: So my overall rating of this movie would be 6 out of 10, which is an average of the two groups, on my magic movie rating scale. This rating should be considered higher if you are a Hulk fan and lower if you are not, but for me, I stick with my opinion stated in the first paragraph. I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for this one!

Yes, there will be another one!