Jun 26, 2008

the New York Times reviews a new film...

From A. O. Scott:

"The first 40 minutes or so of “Wall-E” — in which barely any dialogue is spoken, and almost no human figures appear on screen — is a cinematic poem of such wit and beauty that its darker implications may take a while to sink in."

Wow. And that's only the first sentence.
I haven't seen it yet. Those of you that have, I'd love to hear your impressions.


Jim Mortensen said...

I just caught the midnight screening at the El Capitan theatre (and accidentally stole a free Wall*E t-shirt from the grip of the woman next to us. oops, sorry anonymous woman in seat CC7!)

The first 40 minutes definitely are brilliant cinema. It's apparent that Stanton was trusted by everyone just as much as he trusted his own team. The acting really is brilliant: the sort of humor that can only be pulled off by great timing. And great timing is there in leaps in bounds.

Personally, I think the movie does have its story problems. I won't post any spoilers, but there are times when character motivations fell flat for me (about 15 minutes before the climax and leading into the climax). Also, the ending didn't quite ring true for me because of the same setup problems. However, the main characters are so strong and entertaining that they pull the film and the audience through the story problems. Stanton sets up a number of story points early that are waiting for resolution, and it's those story points that carry the audience to the end.

All that said, it's probobably the ballsiest movie Pixar has done, and certainly the most interesting commentary produced by the studio.

I think both Wall*E and Kung Fu Panda define a bit of a line between great story and great entertainment. I think neither were particularly amazing stories but they were both fantastic entertainment. I'm going back this weekend to see both.

Really really well done. Made me tear up 9 or 10 times.

samacleod said...

Just saw it this morning. Great work. Very nicely done. Kills me how good they are at Pixar. Jeffrey Tambor gave a lecture at DW yesterday and said something along the lines of, "the secret is to get good actors." The animation is wonderufl. The character, Wall-E, has so much life, as do all of the characters.
I liked the end credits, a nice "In Memory" for Justin Wright, with a great Peter gabriel song, and some nice artwork.
I have one, tiny tiny, practical insignificant complaint, the movie is wonderful, great film making, I just didn't think Fred Willard was a good choice. He fits perfectly in a Chris Guest movie, but it didn't work for me.
But yeah, the first 30 minutes are fantastic. That's a good NY Times review.

Andy Norton said...

I'm probably going to comment on Scott's review rather than the film (which I WILL SEE when it is released here.)

Scott can write a very in-depth which is both entertaining, and informative, on this film and deals with all the themes and approaches that you can watch this film with for an interpretation.

I just wish Scott did a review for Presto, the short that is shown before Wall-E at cinemas.

Anonymous said...

Saw it today. Writers Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon have careers. Hope it cleans up at the box office. This film has gonads as well as (let's hope) legs.

Tim said...

I might be in the minority here, but I just liked Wall•E instead of loving it.
The look of the film is so lush, dense and realistic, I was expecting an epic plot. But the story was much smaller than the visuals.
It was like I walked into a posh 5-star restaurant and was brought an Outback Steakhouse filet. I like a nice filet, but I was expecting more.

Hate to be so picky, but that's just how it hit me.

I posted a longer review on my blog, if anyone is interested: http://timothyhodge.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

And the production design and character designs were amazing. So controlled, and emotional, without being "show-offy." Totally supporting the characters and scene without vying for attention, like a lot of recent other cartoons.

Bob Logan said...

Hey Jenny,

At the end credits, Jim Reardon was credited as a writer. Is it the same Jim Reardon on The Simpsons? IMDB isn't showing the name at all (which I don't get). I was just curious.

Oh, and you know um... everything so I'm coming to you.

Jenny Lerew said...

Great comments, everyone-thank you!

Bob-yes, that's the same Reardon. : )
He's an extremely funny guy...he also used to throw the most insane parties I have ever experienced. The one time I met Ralph Bakshi was at one such. I'd swear the entire industry was always there along with most of Calarts.

Anonymous said...

My disappointment in Wall-E comes from the fact that the advance promotion had given away all the main story points.

It's a pretty good film, but neutralized by the marketing need to explain it in advance so much that even 4-year olds can follow it.

Bob Logan said...

Thanks, Jenny!

It was actually a bug in my brain. Now I can sleep. See? It's 1:10 am.

Jim's da bomb! Great director!


Vincent Gorman said...

Great movie. My favorite part was the fact that it was very different than the typical 3d animated movie. There were things that weren't the best choice in my opinion (such as live action fred willard, but no one else is live action? why?) BUT with that being said, I love it because it takes risks to make great art. Some of the risks were very successful (almost no dialogue, pantomime). By Pixar breaking so many "assumed rules" with this movie, I think they're in right state of mind. More power to Pixar, with this kind of movie making, they'll remain as a leader of the medium.

Anonymous said...


There's lots of live action other than Willard.

Hello Dolly for instance. The B&L commercials with people frolicking, getting massages, floating on recliners. All of that establishing work. It's not until 700 years of microgravity and purposelessness that they became gels.

I think it helped establish the tone of the two locations of the movie. Earth is where the reality is... real people, real problems. Space is where the problems seemed to not exist anymore. It's literally lightweight. Stuff is sillier, people have devolved into cartoon characters, the robots are more real and important, and the people are an afterthought.

But in what other context does Hello Dolly make sense? That screen's playing in the real world, not the cartoon world... that's the world that our robot hero wants to live in. If not for Fred Willard and some semblance of an explanation how people changed, we'd be saying that the Hello Dolly clips were jarringly live action.

Another way to go would have been to use real humans throughout. I'm not sure that would be a better film than this one. Although it may have been a more integrated film, it might not have been better.

Another way would be to lose Hello Dolly altogether, and that's too terrible a thought to contemplate.

Vincent Gorman said...

That is an interesting take on it and I get what you mean. I didn't make the correlation between humans on earth are live action and in space are CG. Because when they returned to earth, they didn't become live action. It makes sense, though, that it's the flabby, no problem-ness of space that made them that way, and it would take some time to return to normal humans. Thanks for the clarity.

roque said...

I went into the theater expecting Pixar to make a great CG animated film.

Instead, I left knowing that I just saw a great FILM.

Thad said...

I thought it was very lame.
Am I missing something?
I guess putting big eyes on something makes it a character these days.

Anonymous said...

Yes Thad, that's it. It fooled everyone but you.

A theater full of people reaching for their hankies, fooled by a trash compactor with a set of huge eyes.

Just put on the big eyes, BAM! Instant cinematic poem!