Posts Tagged ‘animated

10
Jul
08

Movie Review: Wall*E

 

 

More serious than I thought…

 

Starring the voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, and Sigourney Weaver. Directed by Andrew Stanton

 

The Future. Planet Earth. The world is now skyscrapers made of cubes of trash (in between still-standing high rises) and dilapidated highways; it’s the remains of humanity after the Buy N Large Corporation conquered humanity and took everyone into space, leaving behind garbage and toxicity. The last working robot Wall*E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-class) compacts the trash into cubes and is responsible for creating the trash-scrapers.

 

Over the past 700 years that mankind has abandoned the Earth Wall*E has diligently done his job and gained a personality. His “home” (a giant garbage truck) holds objects of his curiosity as well as replacement parts and an iPod that he uses to watch, “Holly Dolly!” on VHS. Apart from a cockroach, Wall*E has no friends.

 

When a giant spaceship lands and drops off another robot called Eve (Extraterrestial Vegetation Evaluator) Wall*E becomes fascinated with her; Eve, not so much. Immediately Eve goes to searching the planet for any vegetation and Wall*E tries shadowing her, instantly finding out that Eve has a trigger-happy arm and a quick temper. When Wall*E gives her a plant he put in a shoe and faster than you can say “Mission Accomplished,” Eve calls for the ship to return and goes into a comatose state. Once the ship picks up Eve, Wall*E goes on an adventure.

 

I’ll stop the story there with the exception of saying that the human race lives on a spaceship called the Axiom where they fly/bump around on “hover” chairs and weigh about 300 pounds on average. Seriously.

 

What I didn’t expect from this movie was how lonely an atmosphere Pixar could create. Desolation, trash, toxicity, dirt; it takes hard work to make it all believable and to give a “possible” future based on mankind’s current “rate of expansion” (there’s more than a double-entendre in that). This movie is full of messages and might turn away audiences looking for a “cutesy” movie. But then again, don’t most Pixar films?

 

Aside from the “human consumerism leading to obesity” (we’ve proved that) there is the “love conquers all” theme which is where “Wall*E” is the most endearing. Whereas Eve is temperamental and trigger-happy, Wall*E is shy and carries himself in a Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton sort of way.

And the movie does have its comical moments, a lot more than you’ve seen in the previews and trailers. Added to that are the references to “2001,” “Star Trek,” “Flight of the Navigator,” and Atari. Oh yeah, and watch for John Ratzenberger’s cameo.

 

My grade: B+

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10
May
08

Movie Review: Speed Racer

 

 

 

So this is what the ADD instant-gratification kids are into these days.

 

Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, and Richard Roundtree. Directed by the Wachowski Brothers.

 

When I was growing up, I watched “He-Man,” “Transformers,” and “G.I. Joe;” I was a kid of the Eighties. That being said, I had never watched the 1960’s cartoon “Speed Racer,” until I was much older and discontent with the latter-90’s cartoon offerings. With it having been released on DVD I watched a little of it with my younger brother and trust me, it didn’t take much speed to catch onto “Racer.” But I digress.

 

This movie’s (and I stress this is a movie, not film) storyline is this: Speed(Hirsch) is a racecar-obsessed kid living in a Technicolor world that looks like “Willy Wonka” on steroids. His childhood love Trixie (Ricci) helped him through high school and is his best friend/ love interest. After winning a race he’s visited by Corporate Owner Royalton (Roger Allam), your quintessential villainous “I can buy your existence” kinda guy, who makes an offer to Speed that unless Speed signs for him, his entire family and life are in jeopardy. This doesn’t bode well with Speed or his dad Pops (Goodman), Mom (Sarandon), his younger brother Spritle (Paulie Litt) or chimp Chim-Chim. Speed is approached by the infamous Racer X (Fox) and Taejo (Rain) to compete in the Casa Christo, the race of thieves, thugs, lowlifes and the desperate; it’s also the race where Speed’s brother was killed. Will Speed win it and go on to the Casa Grande, THE race where he can win a $1 million prize and show-up Royalton? Who is Racer X?

 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, while I watched the movie the main question going on inside my head was: how do I review this thing. It’s not cheesy. It’s not boring. It’s not bad. Unfortunately, it’s not great, either. What settled in my head was this thought: there is a road between genius and madness, and this movie rips across it with reckless abandon.

 

On a technical level, this is one of the best green-screened movies I’ve ever seen. Yes, it is as visually assaulting as the trailer, with everything in crisp Technicolor; red, blue, orange, black, white, gray, green… if it couldn’t be done in the background, it was done digitally. The length of time the characters were on screen, the car racing, just about everything was done at “ludicrous speed.” (thankya, Mr. Brooks) If you try to get a handle on everything going on in a scene, you’d still be scratching your head over the first ten minutes of the movie.

 

What I will say is that the Wachowski’s have turned conventional storytelling on its ear. The quick-cuts and green-screening together with how they approached the “Speed Racer” formula… it may not be the greatest thing in the world, but it’s an approach that will soon take notice in filmmaking. Watch for it.

 

As for the acting… the “minor” actors of this movie seemed to have more fun than the major ones. Matthew Fox impressed me in the fact that I could believe in his character and that he can do more than crying on cue (sorry “Lost” fans). The other actor having fun with the movie was Richard Roundtree, who I would have never guessed would be in this movie.

 

All-in-all, I enjoyed the movie. My only complaints are that the characters were two-dimensional, and that this movie seemed to suffer from what the Speed fought against: corporate profit for the sake of profit. I wish it had been more fun to watch.

 

My grade: B (overall)