Zed grasps at what it means to be young again.
Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Robots, and co-starring people.
Production Company: Disney/Pixar
After first experiencing WALL-E, I was floored. It was a beautiful story with endearing characters, a social message, and empathy and yet there was no dialogue for the first hour! WALL-E is the last machine left on a garbage encrusted earth; he dutifully carries out his task: compacting garbage into cubes and making skyscraper sized works of art out of them. With humans travelling the stars with no real intent of coming back home, WALL-E has been faithfully carrying out his job for 700 years with no interaction with others, save for his pet cockroach. During all this time, WALL-E has succeeded his other brethren, seemingly still sane due to his lovable curiosity and love of collecting junk. I anthropomorphize WALL-E only because I couldn’t help but root for the little guy. He’s just doing his job until the humans come home; which might never happen.
WALL-E’s home itself is a testament to all the junk people can create, but it plays towards the old saying: ‘one man’s trash is another’s treasure’. Through it all, WALL-E cares for all his belongings and lovingly takes care of his pet cockroach, feeding him Twinkies, which I always figured would last a million years. His only interaction with people up to this point is a very old VHS (or possibly BETA) version of Hello Dolly that he watches religiously and at the certain scenes, longs for touching hands with someone else; it’s a lonely world for the little robot.
WALL-E’s world is turned upside down at the arrival of EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), the super sleek, overtly Macintosh-inspired lady machine, looking for plant life on earth. As luck would have it, WALL-E’s attempts at wooing her fail miserably until he presents her with a plant he found growing inside an old fridge; her prime directive in finding any plant life, she shuts down, waiting for the arrival of her ship to bring her back home. As it turns out, WALL-E inadvertently hitches a ride with the ship and right into the adventure of his lifetime.
Humans work their way into the story in the last act, which for me was the weakest portion of the film. Ultimately, the goal is to have human’s re-colonized earth again, rather than travel through the stars. The machines all have a life of their own, as simple as they all look, most don’t even have eyes, and rely on their zany movements or manic behavior to tell us what they’re thinking. It all works, beautifully.
You have to give credit to the Pixar animators, as they really show what they can do even without interaction or speech. Compare WALL-E to Final Fantasy (2001) which was a technical achievement and you’ll see what I mean. Final Fantasy was more concerned about getting their characters to look and act like real people, a noble effort, but the end result is a puppet on screen with dead vacuous pixels. Pixar took the formula, and gave life to WALL-E, so much so that you get the idea that he’s looking behind the film to see who’s operating the camera. I still can’t believe the animators did all this without giving the title character a mouth, just binocular type eyes that only rotate up or down. The pure curiosity, the sell of the moment, the lighting of the picture was even presented as a historical document that I could have believed.
WALL-E is a story for every one of all ages, of all walks of life. There’s a social message hidden in there; namely that we can’t ignore our garbage problems, or just leave when the going gets tough. There’s little treats peppered throughout for the detail oriented, watch for other Pixar movie props to appear on garbage piles, and listen to the AXIOM computer voice, a little nod to an actress who made space cool again. The movie plays out like one of the great silent movies, there’s empathy, there’s pathos, there’s even a love story. I highly recommend this flick to anyone who enjoys a good movie.
9.5 out of 10
Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman
Production Company: Sony Pictures
Something must have happened during production on Hancock. I’m talking about the great first act, the build up of the character, the Superman complex: a God trapped in a man’s body, the initial hurdle Hancock had to overcome and the title character’s progression into becoming the God everyone needs, rather than everyone hates. It was artfully handled, I felt for Will Smith. His portrayal of a Superhuman trapped in the everyman’s world of L.A., a crime infested city where each time he helps, and he’s causing more property damage while trying to stop the bad guys. He’s an alcoholic, but we still like him. He’s easily hateable, but there’s the one guy that truly believes in him, and gets him to reform (Jason Bateman). Instead of being grateful, the city is more satisfied pointing out his drinking habits and the whole ‘flying-while-drunk’ problem. So, to reform, his newly self-appointed P.R agent Ray (Bateman) makes it his mission to create a friendlier, family centric, professional Hancock. On good faith, he asks Hancock to do some time in a federal prison; reluctantly he complies – until the mayor needs his help in a downtown bank robbery/ hostage situation.
|“Didn’t y’all like ALI?”|
Okay, so at this point I’m not giving away too much, but he saves the hostages, puts the bad guys in jail and treats the people he’s saving with much more dignity and respect. He even asks a lady cop if it’s “Okay to have physical contact with her”. Seriously. So, at this point, you’d think the movie goes into a nice blue sky where Hancock flies away and we’re all happy that he’s become a round character and overcome his demons.
Instead, we’re treated with what seems like a half finished storyline involving Charlize Theron being his super-being wife. The twist here is that they can’t be in too close contact otherwise they start to lose their powers. Cue in some weird tornado’s in downtown L.A. when the two fight each other, and the fact that even though the movie sets the ground rules that: the closer they are, the weaker they get, the movie does a great job of not following this formula.
|“I sooooo need to piss.”|
For instance: During the fight between Hancock and Theron, she at one point throws a dump truck directly on Hancock. He’s able to get back up, no problem. Later on, in a hospital part, he’s getting the snot beat out of him by a couple of thugs: and for some reason Theron feels Hancock’s pain(?). To say the least, the inconsistencies of powers, the magical additional events that happen when the couple is together, and the lack of support of story adds up to a dismal second act, and a confusing third act. The only saving grace for me was seeing Charlize Theron alongside Jason Bateman again: I was hoping for some reference to ‘Arrested Development’, sadly, I was disappointed.
So we have a movie with an A-list star, major blockbuster bucks and a great marketing campaign. The videos were viral, and the public was pumped to see this as it’s been in development hell for at least 5 years. And for a movie in development that long, it sure felt rushed. The mythos isn’t properly explained, the Wolverine-esque amnesia back story that’s conveniently never revealed by Theron is never flushed out. The additional element such as the heat given off from Hancock and Theron together isn’t explained, and neither is the fact of how they were made or what the exact origins are. I’m sure the movie was written this way to get the public salivating for more, but the way the subject is handled is clumsy and we’re more annoyed than curious.
That being said, if were to grade Hancock on the first 40 minutes, it would stand alone as a pretty good movie. Taken with all the parts, it’s much more baffling, rushed and incomplete.
5.0 out of 10.