Pixar

Wall-e

Wall-e Last night we went to see Wall-e, the new Pixar film. Now, Monica had not seen a Pixar film since 'The Incredibles' (which she liked). I saw 'Cars' without her, and said 'don't bother'. Neither of us saw 'Ratatouille' ('Cars' having put us off the idea). (My Cars review... a bit rambly I'm afraid)

Wall-e had earned glowing reviews and so we thought we'd give it a go. The film was certainly very good (even if it's central messages were undercut by the fact that the shops will be full of plastic robot junk for months on end).

It was sweet, without being sickly. Wall-e was child-like without being annoying. He expressed a genuine curiousity about his world, and took wonder in the simple and unusual.

There were only three things I didn't like.

  1. I could live with the anthropomorphised robots - but did they have to make the cockroach act like a pet dog? (Why not have Wall-e unable to distinguish one roach from another, treating them as if they're the same with the roaches oblivious to Wall-e?)
  2. When the Axiom was slanted, all the fatties slid 'downhill'. It was a spaceship with artificial gravity... Most people, I suspect, wouldn't even notice that. What a shame. Rather than angling the ship, exactly the same sequence could have been done by having a malfunction in the artificial gravity.
  3. The amazing muscular regeneration which allows someone to stand (albeit with difficulty) after a lifetime in a chair, and shortly thereafter allowing everyone to join him (without one person saying 'No, I like my chair'). This latter point was a neccesary evil for the story though.

I wasn't crazy about the sheer amount of space-junk in orbit (but then, a more realistic amount would not be seen on film). Similarly, the sheer volume of rubbish being cleaned was over the top in terms of the raw material availability - but then, one could suppose that Wall-e would be working somewhere in Manhattan, and that there'd be whole stretches of the planet which were desolate but clear.

Little touches I did like were the PC/Mac thing that Wall-e and Eve had going on. Wall-e even used the windows startup sound. I wonder if that little cleaner robot was called fsutil? I liked the 2001 references with Otto. I liked the general grubbiness of the world, with the huge skyscrapers showing how long wall-e (and his now defunct kin) had been working.

I liked how well wall-e could 'act', when all the guy could really do was zoom in and out, open and close his apertures, angle his cameras, and extend his neck... actually, there are lots of degrees of freedom there.

Generally, it's an excellent film. It's even possible that it might cause a new generation to watch 'Hello Dolly!'

Other reviews:

Cars

I've just been to see Pixar's 'Cars'. It's a nice little film, a bit weaker than their previous offerings, I thought, it's at the 'Bugs Life' and of things rather than 'The Incredibles' or 'Toy Story'. Also, the short, 'One Man Band' wasn't to the same calibre as 'For the Birds'

There were some really nice touches, Jeremy Clarkson as the voice of 'Harv', the fact that the car was named 'McQueen' (a nod to Steve?) and so forth. The race sequences were really well done, Lightning McQueen's drive in the country with the Porsche was an incredible piece of work - they got the scenery down to a T. In places I felt that I recognised bits and pieces from my honeymoon, we drove in Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

It was a good film, but it wasn't as great as a pixar film can be, but then, they have set themselves very high standards. I've been thinking about why, and it's hard to put my finger on it, but I think it was not satisfying as it was rather 'by the numbers'.

Big shot in hick town. Big shot rails against the town. Big shot grows to love the town.

It was by the numbers, and, thinking back, I can't remember a chuckle (until the end credits). With Toy Story (and Toy Story 2), I can remember the gags well (Buzz, *I* am your father). The same is true of 'The Incredibles' ('Edna Mole.........andguest'), Finding Nemo ('Keep on swimming.. swimming... swimming....')

With 'Cars' I'm struggling to remember if there were gags in the film.

That's not to say that it's not a good film, it's perfectly fine. It goes along nicely, it tells the story, it's just not great.

Oh, I said that already.

I get the sense that I may be in the minority, though I'm not alone.

I do remember the gags in the end credits though.

It's a wonder that as soon as the first credits roll everyone heads for the door. It's a pixar film for crying out loud. I think it was only 'The Incredibles' which didn't use the end sequence for more goodness.

Half of the audience missed 'Toy Car Story' (You... are... a.... toy.... car!) and 'Monster Cars Inc', I can't recall what the gag was there, I was too amused at seeing Mike Wachowski as a one eyed car. There was a nice running gag with John Ratzenberger... ah yes... abominable.

I was the only one in the cinema for the post credit return of the touring couple.

I don't understand people who race for the exit, sure, much of the time all they're missing are the credit, but occasionally you get a treat ('Chicken Run' was good for this) - and in any event, it's a nice relaxed way to finish. The one time in recent memory I left early was for the X-Men film, and I missed the post-credit teaser.

For 'Cars' the end credits were my favourite bits.

The pre-film trailers were animation filled. There was the new Aardman film, 'Flushed Away', I didn't find myself terribly excited by it. Ratatouille looked good though (and better than 'Cars' looked a year ago). There was also some other animated effort, but I can't even remember the vague topic of the film.

Oh, for people watching the credits, the voice of 'Mater' was 'Larry the Cable Guy'. Now, I thought this was just some guy who walked into Pixar to fix something and they grabbed him for the voice, but no. Larry the Cable guy is a US comic.

The Incredibles

Simply put, amazing film. For my money, this was the most enjoyable pixar production to date. I often found myself completely immersed, forgetting that I was looking at computer animation.

The characters were wonderful, Holly Hunter's character was particularly good.

There are some lovely visual gags, and the baby has a rather nice part to play near the end.

The slight fly in the ointment for me was the villain, who seemed a little 'plastic' - but this was actually quite minor.

The end titles were stylised, almost pink pantherish, and lacked what is almost the pixar trademark of end-titles gags.

The action was fluid, fast paced when it kicked off, and genuinely exciting. A good, fun film.