Be Kind Rewind (2008)

There are some values that have become lost in our modern day society that at one point we cherished. Many of us take for granted our neighbors and friends and go through life feeling alone. Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind is on the surface a comedic story of two friends Jerry and Mike, who remake films for their customers after Jerry becomes magnetized and erases every tape in Mike's video store. Beneath that exterior lies a touching exploration into the forgotten values of unity and friendship. Although it is refreshing to see such ideals being displayed, they don't exactly make for a very exciting film. Although I have already given you a brief synopsis of the plot, I'll paint a more elaborate picture for you. Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover) owns and operates a rundown video store in Passaic, New Jersey called Be Kind Rewind. When Mr. Fletcher goes away to honor the passing of a jazz legend that was supposedly born in his building, he leaves Mike (Mos Def) in charge of the store. Before he goes he leaves Mike one warning, and that is to keep Jerry (Jack Black) away. After a freak accident at a power plant, Jerry is left magnetized and confused and ends up in Be Kind Rewind. Sure enough, Jerry causes problems as he ends up erasing every tape in the store. When frequent customer Miss Faliwicz (Mia Farrow) comes to rent Ghostbusters, Jerry and Mike desperately put together their own version of the film, hoping Miss Faliwicz wouldn't know the difference. Surprisingly, the video becomes popular and the entire neighborhood stops by to have a film of their choice "sweded". Be Kind Rewind has plenty of heart, but lackluster performances and a dull script keep it from achieving greatness.

French born director Michel Gondry has become famous for his vivid and whimsical imagination and his ability to transfer it onto the screen. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, (a film of which I am a huge fan of), Gondry touched on the subject of love and the joy it could give you, and also the great lengths you would go through to erase it from your memory. The reason he was able to turn that film into such an accomplishment was his oddball humor, his amazing script, and his unique cinematography. In Be Kind Rewind, Gondry does not delve into an emotion that we all endure, but instead discusses the bond between friends and the happiness that can be shared with one another. This message was especially potent with me, as I just so happen to enjoy making short films with my friends. Seeing the characters put together a poorly shot, almost completely improvised film struck a chord with me, as it was all too familiar. Be Kind Rewind is not without bizarre humor, especially in a scene where Jerry unleashes a river of magnetized urine down the street, attracting mufflers and other metal objects as it flowed. Although that scene was particularly outlandish, the rest of the film isn't nearly as ridiculous. The premise of Be Kind Rewind is intriguing, but unfortunately the script that holds up that premise is blandly written and unimpressive. The conflict that arises from these characters actions is predictable and unremarkable. Not to mention the trailers pretty much give away what happens. Finally, the cinematography and direction of Be Kind Rewind are trite and simple. With the exception of a continuous shot of the main characters filming several films at once, there is no originality or memorable scenes. The dazzle that Gondry gave to me in Eternal Sunshine was noticeably absent from this picture, and it is very disappointing.

Performances are another downfall that plague Be Kind Rewind. The characters are meant to be relatable and loveable, but I felt neither of these emotions watching this film. With the exception of Jack Black, there were absolutely no bright spots in the entire cast. Possibly the only good rapper turned actor Mos Def wasn't so good in his role as Mike. Unenthusiastic speaking and a constant thousand mile stare had me thinking somebody swapped out the real Mos Def for a pod person that looked just like him. Danny Glover is practically negligible as Mr. Fletcher, the owner of Be Kind Rewind. Much like Mos Def, Glover seems unenthusiastic and doesn't seem right for this film. If you would have put Def in Glover's role and vice verse, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Neither provided humor to the film, nor did they provoke any sort of feeling that made me interested in their life. As I mentioned, Jack Black gave the only truly enjoyable performance in the film. He actually seemed fit for his role. Playing the eccentric Jerry was effortless for Black, as he is a bit of an eccentric himself. His endless humor helped save Be Kind Rewind from sinking to the depths of garbage.

Be Kind Rewind runs a little above 100 minutes, but it does go by pretty quickly. Despite the fact that not much happens, the film doesn't lag so it doesn't bore you to tears. And although the performances were interchangeable and lackluster, I still found myself watching the film voluntarily, instead of wriggling in my chair waiting for it to end. Even though the number of negatives outweighed the number of positives, I was still mildly enthused. The majority of the entertainment came from watching Mos Def and Jack Black put their own spin on movies such as Ghostbusters. I for one have been a Ghostbusters fanatic since I was a little boy (I even had a proton pack that I would run around my house with), so it was extremely amusing to watch them remake it. Be Kind Rewind is simply a nice film with a good message and a big heart. I am just barely recommending it for your viewing pleasure, but do not expect another Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My rating (5.5/10)

The Dark Knight (2008)

Up to this point, the summer of 2008 has been the summer of great comic book movies. The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy were both great fun, and Iron Man brought us the best superhero movie since Batman Begins. Well I hope Iron Man enjoyed it's time on top, because The Dark Knight has come and left every single one of those films in the dust. I'm somewhat afraid that with this review I will be unable to fully convey how spectacular this movie was. Christian Bale, a man that has time and again proved himself to be an amazing actor (American Psycho, The Prestige, 3:10 To Yuma) returns as the caped crusader, who seems to have fallen out of favor with the public. Ever since he has began patrolling the streets of Gotham, the crime rate has soared, and a new breed of criminal seems to have been born. Batman, who cannot fight injustice alone, takes up support of new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Dent has become a beacon of light for Gotham, vowing to be a "white knight" and make the street's safe again. His campaign could not come soon enough, as a new villain emerges from the depths of Gotham to play games with its inhabitants. This individual is The Joker (Heath Ledger), a man who simply came from nowhere to challenge Batman to see how far he was willing to go to stop a madman. At every turn, The Joker makes another move that is completely unexpected and always catastrophic. Unconcerned about what happens to him, this green and purple freak will do anything to cause chaos, and to push Batman to his limits to see how moral of a hero he really is. While Batman has his own set of problems, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne must deal with the fact that he has lost the love of his life Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to the very man he is supporting, Harvey Dent. The Dark Knight is not only the best superhero movie ever made, but one of the best crime dramas ever put on film, and should be considered for a Best Picture Oscar.

Everything works in The Dark Knight. There is not a single weak link in the chain. Christopher Nolan, the man behind one of my personal favorite films Memento, does an outstanding job of handling this material. He has created a city that has descended into disorder and desperation. Gotham is unforgiving and the people that dwell there are just as harsh. They would have to be in order to survive. Even though this city has fallen to corruption and crime, Nolan does a tasteful job of not exploiting that fact to a point beyond where anybody can appreciate it. His focus lies on the conflicts of Bruce Wayne and the rise of the evil Joker. He presents us with the question of how far should anybody be willing to go to protect what they believe is right. Nolan also accomplishes the feat of tackling multiple storylines without becoming jumbled and confusing. The movie slides easily from scene to scene, changing directions but always remaining focused. Some excellent cinematography helps to ease the viewer into each scene without jarring them, but also without dragging them in kicking and screaming. The action in The Dark Knight is without a doubt heart racing, adrenaline pumping fun that doesn't get too bogged down in its scale. Although not without its share of CGI, Nolan only uses it whenever is absolutely necessary and doesn't turn this epic crime drama into a third rate superhero flick. That's right, I don't even consider this film a superhero film. It packs the punch of an excellent action film, but also is an enthralling exploration of the unending battle between good and evil, right and wrong. Nolan is at the top of his game with The Dark Knight, as he somehow manages to surpass his masterpiece Memento. I guess that would make The Dark Knight a....super masterpiece?

Direction alone cannot make a movie brilliant, though. One needs a cast that can take a script and turn it into a something real. In other words, take a fictional story but make the audience believe it's true. To say the all star cast of The Dark Knight did that would be an understatement. Christian Bale is the most intimidating Batman and the most arrogant Bruce Wayne in the history of the franchise. His struggles and battles that he must face as both Wayne and Batman are all exemplified perfectly, bringing the viewer into his head to feel exactly what he feels. His struggle to maintain composure in the face of the insane Joker shows us all that everyone has a breaking point, even people masquerading as a bat. Bale's versatility as an actor really permeates through to the audience in every movie he does. You can also feel Bruce's heartache as he loses Rachel to Harvey. Aaron Eckhart gives a top notch performance as righteous Harvey Dent, the man who wants to clean up Gotham without wearing a mask. As Dent, Eckhart is a delight to watch as he spreads his ordeals and stands up to the injustices of his city. When Dent unavoidably becomes Two-Face (that's not really a spoiler, so don't be upset), his fight for what is right becomes a flawed mission as he turns to vigilantism himself. Using the flip of a coin to decide whether someone lives or dies, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent is a depressing reminder that everyone is corruptable. Echkart's performance is definitely note-worthy, but unfortunately he will most likely be overshadowed by another performance (Hint: It's not Maggie Gyllenhaal). In Batman Begins, Rachel Dawes was played plainly and unenthusiastically by Katie Holmes. Well in The Dark Knight, since everything else was better, Holmes was swapped out for an upgrade, but not too much of an upgrade to Maggie Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal brings us a much more convincing performance as the one woman in Gotham to know Batman's true identity, and the agony that comes with that knowledge is detectable on her face. Although her character is in love with Harvey, anytime she is near Bruce you can sense desire between both parties.

But you probably don't care about Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance. Chances are if you care about this movie, there is only one person you really want to hear about. That is the late Heath Ledger, who portrays the dysfunctional Joker. Ledger has brought forth the most frightening and deranged villain since Hannibal Lector. The way he so completely became this role, creating strange mannerisms and tics, makes you believe that there is not even an actor playing this man, and that he truly exists. The paint on his face that is often a runny mess symbolizes the insanity lying beneath that face, and how utterly diabolic his mind works. Christopher Nolan does not give a backstory to the Joker either. He has no identification, his fingerprints are unique, his DNA has no matches, he has no discernible origin whatsoever. He is genuinely an entity that was born from the presence of Batman. In a few memorable scenes, the Joker explains how the scars on his face came to be, but the story changes each time. This could simply be a part of his insanity, or maybe it is a sign that not even the Joker himself can remember who he was before Batman. Ledger is absolutely phenomenal as this unprecedented character, stealing every scene that he is in. His actions and words hypnotize you so that you cannot help but be scared. It would be downright foolish to not nominate him for Best Supporting Actor. Now some people might be saying "Oh well you are just saying this because he died and it's sympathy for him that everyone is giving him this praise". Well I'll tell you right now that what happened to Heath Ledger in real life is completely irrelevant. As I watched The Dark Knight, I didn't even see Heath Ledger. I saw the Joker.
Whenever I review a film and give it a high grade, I always consider that it is just my opinion and that there are probably many people who dislike the movies that I give tens. People could find No Country For Old Men boring and I understand that. People could find A Clockwork Orange too controversial and inappropriate and I understand that. People could find The Shining too slow and I understand that. But not this film. I find it hard to believe that anybody could completely dislike The Dark Knight. Yes the movie is dark and it has a very bleak message, but Batman is a dark comic book. That is the way it should be. The way it was meant to be. Length is not an issue with this film, despite a run time of 2 and a half hours. I promise you it will fly by, and you may even want it to last longer just like I did. With not a single flaw (except maybe some improbable forensic software), I am obligated to give this film the highest rating possible. With a movie this captivating, the sad question is asked: How will they top it? My rating: (10/10)

This review is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Nowak.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

The year of the comic book continues with Guillermo Del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. If you have seen a film by Del Toro in the past, you probably know that the man's imagination is only exceeded by his belly. Perhaps it was his wild imagination that got this sequel greenlit, considering the fact that 2004's Hellboy only grossed a little above $55 million domestically. No matter how he managed to do it, I am glad he did. Hellboy II is a step up from its predecessor in every way. At the beginning of the film, we are told the story of the golden army by Professor Broom (John Hurt) to a teenage Hellboy. Long ago, humans and beasts roamed the earth together. But the humans, unhappy with living with trolls I guess, started a war against those beasts and ended up winning the first battle. Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) was deeply enraged by this, and when the offer arose, the Prince convinced his father to build a golden army to teach the humans a lesson. To control the army, a gold crown was created to be worn by the King. After a brutal slaying, King Balor, riddled with regret, created a truce with the humans and divided the crown into 3 pieces. Prince Nuada, ashamed by his father's actions, went into exile, waiting for the moment he could make everything right. Now it is present day and Nuada returns to reclaim what was his, and the only people that can stop him are the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Our familiar friends Hellboy, Liz, and Abe (Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, and Doug Jones) get the call to stop the Prince before he destroys all of mankind. With the help of new team leader Johann Krauss (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), the team investigates an underground world of unimaginable creatures, protecting people that don't seem to want protecting.

More than anything, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a visual feast, or rather, a visual all you can eat buffet. Director Guillermo Del Toro's creativity is exhibited in the forms of monsters who are hideous yet at the same time beautiful. In a scene where the Bureau members walk through a troll market, I was left astounded by the brilliant variety of ghouls that Del Toro has served up for us in this magnificent display. Del Toro must have been running the makeup team ragged with his wild imagination. On that note, Hellboy II is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup. Attention to detail and consistent diversity amongst the creatures makes the film a never ending source of magic and whimsy. Del Toro's love for the characters and their world shines through with unyielding brightness. Aside from the stunning landscapes and creatures, Del Toro also paces the film very well, not allowing the film to crumble under its own weight. Once you make it past the cheesy, cornballish first 15 minutes or so, entertainment ensues for the remaining 95.

When you are covered with makeup and prosthetics, it can be difficult to fully convey emotions and actions properly. The actors in Hellboy II do a very good job of making their costumes complete non factors in their performances. Watching a group of abnormal beings portray familiar human emotions, such as love and shame, makes you forget that Hellboy has the right hand of doom and that Abe is essentially a talking fish. All you recognize is how similar to us these misunderstood creatures are. Ron Perlman is great as the gruff, rebellious Hellboy. His ability to maintain an intimidating exterior while cracking jokes and smoking cigars makes Hellboy a likeable character despite his "lone wolf" ideals. Unlike recent superhero flick Hancock, Hellboy succeeds in combining humor and drama because it doesn't lay it on too thick. Earlier in his career, Perlman donned excessive makeup for his role as Vincent in television series Beauty and the Beast. This experience most likely made playing Hellboy somewhat familiar to Perlman, and it really shows in this film. Hellboy's relationship with Liz is a recognizable one, reminding me of a normal couple dealing with normal problems. The actors really do a terrific job of making you sympathize with the characters as you would another person. Another man who is no stranger to prosthetics, Doug Jones reprises his role as the all knowing amphibious being Abe Sapien. In the first Hellboy, David Hyde Pierce provided the voice of Abe but refused crediting because he felt that Jones really did all the work. Pierce pretty much hit the nail on the head. In Hellboy II, Jones does even more work providing his own voice and the difference is practically negligible. What makes Abe such an interesting character are his mannerisms and his impressive ability to know EVERYTHING. Since the latter characteristic is uncontrollable, Jones had to make this weird fish man a delight to see on screen, and he does. We also get to see the romantic side of Abe when he falls in love with the enemies sister. Forbidden love is always awesome (and in this case hilarious). My absolute favorite part of this film was new character Johann Krauss, the team's new leader that was called in to watch over Hellboy. Krauss was played by 3 different people: James Dodd, John Alexander, and Seth MacFarlane. Addressing the work done by MacFarlane, I couldn't help but laugh at the fact that the creator of Family Guy, the man who does the voice of Peter Griffin, was in Hellboy II as a German ectoplasmic scientist. He also did a great job of matching the voice with the motions of Krauss, that were acted out by either Dodd or Alexander. A thoroughly entertaining character, Krauss' level-headed mindset and brilliant psychic abilities make him a formidable match against the brute force of Hellboy.

Hellboy II is not a terrific film though, as it does have it's fair share of infirmities. I briefly stated before that the first 15 minutes are a bit rough to get through. That might be giving it too much credit. In comparison to the rest of the film, the first 15 minutes seemed like a different movie altogether. I almost completely lost interest as I watched an awkward young Hellboy beg his father to read him a bedtime story. Clumsily shot, horribly acted, altogether unappealing to watch, I feared this movie was over before it even got started. Luckily because of Del Toro's ability to tell a story, I soon became entangled in this movies web. Although, the storyline itself was a bit difficult to appreciate. It was a little too familiar for my taste. A superhero that isn't favored by the public and must fight his own demons is a recipe that has been used in too many dishes (Spiderman, Batman, Hancock). The message of acceptance of everybody despite our differences has been played for years (All 3 X-Men films), and is becoming redundant now. It was also unrealistic to see not a single person stand up for Hellboy. In a scene where Hellboy saves a baby from a car about to be destroyed, not one person in the crowd shouts a positive comment. Every person is portrayed as close minded and arrogant. Even in a world of monsters, that seems a bit unrealistic.

Although not perfect and not quite as good as Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy II is energetic and amusing throughout. With an enchanting score from Danny Elfman, the action sequences in Hellboy II are a thrill to behold. They do not run too long and they do not indulge in blurry CGI. You can see everything that happens clearly, something that recent action films don't offer (Transformers, Spiderman 3). I was not a big fan of the first film so I did not expect much from this one. I was pleasantly surprised. With just the right mix of humor and action and a plethora of beautiful creatures, Hellboy II is smashing summer fun that could be appreciated by all ages. My rating (7/10)

Oh yea, there is also the funniest rendition of a Barry Manilow song EVER.

Hancock (2008)

The superhero genre gets flipped on its head with the release of Will Smith's new blockbuster Hancock. It is widely known that putting Will Smith in a lead role leads to box office gold, and with Hancock that trend continued as it grossed an estimated $63 million dollars in its opening weekend. But did this movie really deserve that business? After last years mediocre box office hit I Am Legend, I started to feel that maybe studios realized they don't need to make the movie good, just as long as Will Smith was headlining. I'm afraid the situation is the same with Hancock. The intriguing storyline follows Hancock (Will Smith), a booze-soaked superhero that has become a nuisance in the public eye. Every effort he makes to help fight crime ultimately leads to even more disaster. But Hancock's luck begins to change when he saves Public Relations representative Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) from being hit by a train. Although the community isn't happy about the destroyed train, the grateful Embrey invites Hancock to his house to discuss a proposition. Embrey wants to help Hancock become a beloved figure because that's what heroes deserve. Much to Ray's wife Mary's (Charlize Theron) chagrin, Hancock agrees to work to better his image. Using a mix of dark comedy and drama, Hancock sounds great on paper, but the transfer onto the screen is far from impressive.

There are a laundry list of problems that plagued this movie, but the number one reason Hancock suffers is the direction of Peter Berg. It is possible that Hancock could have succeeded as a straight up comedic superhero film that didn't take itself too seriously, but a heavy reliance on drama gave this movie the kiss of death. With such a clever and amusing plot, it is simply nonsensical to focus mainly on the serious aspects of the script. Berg seemed to realize this a little bit, as he did try to sprinkle as much comedy into the film as possible, but the execution was weak and altogether shoddy. It felt like when he was planning it he said, "OK we will have 5 minutes of comedy, then we'll do 15 minutes of serious, and then another 5 minutes of comedy, and then maybe 10 minutes of serious comedy, and then 5 minutes of just serious...." It did not feel authentic is the point I am trying to reach. Boring cinematography paired with cartoonish special effects turn Hancock into not only a visually unappealing film, but a dull film. A summer movie-goer will not be pleased with the scenes of destruction, as the film (despite Hancock's unruly nature) was very tame as far as action goes. Peter Berg messed up big time. (An even bigger mistake than agreeing to star in Corky Romano. God that movie sucked.)

As always Will Smith puts forth a major league effort to make the movie the best that he could. That is something that I have no problem crediting him with. Every film I have seen him in he gives it his all, which is more than I can say for many actors. The problem is, pretty much exactly what I said in my I Am Legend review, Will Smith is a GOOD actor but he is not a GREAT actor. He cannot carry a film on his shoulders without some support. Some may contest that The Pursuit of Happyness negates my opinion, but I have not seen that movie so my opinion stands. I am yet to see a film that Will Smith single-handedly overhauls, and that includes Hancock. Despite his huge effort, Smith's performance is really only enjoyable for the first half of the film. I was entertained as Hancock lackadaisically trudged around being an irritable, unfriendly character. It was when he became a reformed, traditional superhero that I began to lose interest. On top of this, Smith does not get the support he needs from the cast around him. Jason Bateman is always fun to watch, and I did like him in this picture. But there wasn't enough done by him to make the film itself better. The same goes for Charlize Theron, whose character of Mary was just boring. And much to my dismay, Mary becomes an important piece of the films plot. Performances: strike two for this movie.

It was probably difficult work coming up with a completely new superhero to base a movie off of. You can tell the writers had trouble making Hancock unique because his powers are flight, strength, and invincibility. Basically, he's a second rate superman. Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan are the men responsible for this screenplay, and they came very close to making it great. But with the inclusion of a twist that is downright silly and unsatisfying, Hancock's story takes an ugly turn as it tries to be intelligent and creative. Perhaps Peter Berg doesn't deserve the brunt of the blame, and the writers should be chastised for the missteps of Hancock. After a promising start, the story debilitates into incoherence and leaves us with below average fight sequences and an ending that is far too abrupt to be stimulating.

Running at a mere 92 minutes, Hancock does us some good by not dragging out its existence. Any longer, and this movie would be receiving an even lower rating from me. There is a line in one of the commercials for this film where Hancock says "Does it look like I care about what people think?" I think that was filmed accidentally, and it was just Will Smith talking to somebody on the set. Someone told him "You know Will, this movie isn't very good. People are probably going to think you lost your touch", and then he responded with "Does it look like I care what people think? They'll pay to see me and that's all that matters." Only the camera cut before he could include that second statement. I'm kidding of course. I have nothing but respect for Will Smith. I just found it ironic that his character says that line, while critics everywhere are bashing this film. OK it was a stupid joke, let's move on. Hancock is a good idea that is marred by bad direction, performances, and plot development. The only thing saving Hancock from a rating of 2 is an entertaining first act. My rating (4/10)

WALL-E (2008)

Pixar once again joins the summer line-up, this time with the release of its new film WALL-E. After seeing and despising Ratatouille last year, I held a strong hope in my heart that WALL-E would redeem my respect for Pixar. Although it wasn't exactly what I hoped it would be, WALL-E is, in my opinion, a huge step up from Ratatouille and has brought back the feeling of admiration I once held for this company. After an adorable and clever short entitled Presto, the feature film begins, introducing us to earth 800 years in the future. After years of neglect, humans have left the earth completely overridden with garbage. To try and remedy this situation, major corporation Buy N Large launches a plan to evacuate everybody on earth to outer space on a ship called Axiom while the mess behind them is cleaned. WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth class) is the small garbage collecting robot that has been charged with the task of cleaning up the disorder. Alone with the exception of a friendly cockroach, WALL-E spends his existence collecting trash, foraging for interesting toys, and watching Hello Dolly. One day while WALL-E is going through his usual motions, a space ship lands on earth and from it comes Eve, a sleek white robot that WALL-E falls for immediately. After a rocky first meeting, WALL-E starts showing Eve around his world, and even performs some dance moves that he picked up from Hello Dolly. When he shows her a small plant that he found, we discover that Eve was sent from the Axiom to find if life could once again be sustained on earth. This plant being proof, she returns to her ship and lifts off, unknowingly carrying WALL-E on the ships' back. Once on the Axiom, we see what humans have been reduced to, carrying out their lives on reclined seats having robots do anything and everything for them. Going deeper into the actual conflict of the film would be giving away the surprise, so I'm afraid I have to stop here.

Like I previously stated, WALL-E is a huge step up from Ratatouille. The main reasons I did not enjoy Ratatouille was due to lack of humor, heart, and enjoyable characters. WALL-E is chock full of all of those things, and more. The curious little robot WALL-E inspires laughter and warmth of the heart simply by being adorable. It seems almost ridiculous to think a box with eyes could be cute, but Pixar knows how to create characters that make an audience say "awwwwwwwww!" WALL-E's voice, provided by Ben Burtt, is comical in its own sense, as it relays an air of innocence mixed with whimsy. The timid and questioning nature of WALL-E is one that I think many children will relate too and enjoy watching. There is also a very endearing love story to appreciate in WALL-E that borders on almost irritatingly adorable. Although Eve is not a particularly interesting character, the way we see her playing off of WALL-E works to perfection. Later in the film when WALL-E boards the Axiom we meet the Captain of the ship, who was voiced by Jeff Garlin. The Captain is also a very amusing addition to the film as a representative of the rest of the people on the ship who have lost touch with the world and only know it from looking at their computer screens.

There is quite a bit of symbolism in WALL-E. Actually, they are not so much symbols as blatant messages that the filmmakers were trying to get us to acknowledge. Showing us an overweight population flowing through life on chairs, not even turning their heads to speak to other people is a bleak foreshadowing of what we have to look forward to if we carry on the way we are. It may sound preachy, but it doesn't make it any less true. To a more mature crowd, these symbols are obvious but for little children, I think this a really effective way to teach them to break the trend and not let laziness overtake their lives. The other messages that convey the fact that big businesses are evil and that neglect for the earth will lead to catastrophe are a bit played out, and I didn't feel as affected by them.

But so far I have only highlighted the positive aspects of WALL-E, and I have been dancing around a fact that is extremely important to mention. WALL-E is boring. Not the entire film, but a good majority of it is. Cute characters and beautiful animations can still not distract me from the fact that for almost all of the film, the only words spoken were "WALL-E" and "Eve". I'm sure it was the filmmakers intention to have us view this film as a work of art and appreciate the animations, and I did that. But just like I said in my Ratatouille review, animations DO NOT make a movie good. They HELP a movie be good, but they don't MAKE a movie good. You still need (or at least I still need) involving interactions and events to keep my eye. Otherwise your attention drifts and you have to make an effort to get back into it. I don't like to expend energy when I watch movies.

WALL-E runs at about 98 minutes, and is entertaining for the first 35 of those minutes. Watching WALL-E explore the trash covered world, picking up random objects and having fun with them made me laugh and kept me into it, and when Eve arrived I was happy to see an interaction between characters. But once WALL-E enters space, the movie becomes an artsy film and relies heavily on its animations. While I was watching it, I felt like I was watching a short film that had been extended to be a full length feature. As a matter of fact, the short film that played before WALL-E, entitled Presto, was just as entertaining as the film itself. It was funny, cute, and clever: 3 things I want from Pixar. In the 3 minutes that the short ran, I laughed out loud more times consecutively than I did for WALL-E, which only gave me intermittent laughs. WALL-E isn't a total loss, as it does provide amusement for some time, its' effects are magnificent, and it sends an excellent message to children about laziness. On a scale of Ratatouille to Toy Story, WALL-E is about A Bug's Life. In other words, my rating (6/10)

Movies given a 10/10

  • Milk
  • In Bruges
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Shining
  • A Clockwork Orange