In an effort to get caught up with the six weeks of non-blogging I just did, and to push the last boring monolithic post down the page a bit, short reviews of the last few movies I saw.
Get Smart was entertaining, but not great. I liked it largely because I like Steve Carell and I used to watch reruns of Get Smart on Nick at Nite growing up. It didn’t seem like it could make up it’s mind whether it wanted to be a summer blockbuster spy movie or a parody of them.
The TV series had Maxwell Smart as a terrible screwup who only succeeded and survived by dumb luck and the help of Agent 99 . The movie has him as a bit of a clumsy doofus, but actually not a bad secret agent.
Carell sells it pretty well, and I particularly enjoyed that halfway through the movie, Alan Arkin (the chief) gets unchained from his desk. He’s a hilariously grumpy old man, and I genuinely thought he was one of the better parts of the movie. I thought The Rock was really good, too, but then I like pretty much anything he does. I even liked Doom, largely because it was awesome, and if you disagree you probably suck.
If that last statement didn’t turn you off on reading the rest of this post, Wall-E and Wanted are after the jump. I saw them more recently, so they’ll be a little less vague.
Wall-E is jaw-droppingly awesome, and if you haven’t seen it yet go see it right now. Unless The Dark Knight rules hard, or I get blind-sided by something else the way I was by The Fountain a couple of years ago, Wall-E will remain the best movie I’ve seen this year. Pixar seem physically incapable of making a bad movie, but even for them, this is amazing. John Lasseter is one of the few people these days who, when I see his name on a movie, I know that it is going to own (another is Christian Bale. Yes, that includes Reign of Fire).
For something with so little dialogue, it tells a story very well. The little robots are very expressive, and I’d pay embarrassing amounts of money for a Roomba-type robot that looked and worked like Wall-E. Eve, the other robot, was designed by Jonathan Ive, who you may remember from such products as the iPod and iMac.
So, Wall-E is pretty much a love story about two robots, which is enough of a hook on it’s own, but it’s set against this wonderful, horrible, backdrop of humanity’s utter failure. I say wonderful because in the end we get our Disney happy ending, and because of the lush visual feast involved, and terrible because holy god, we’re boned.
Pixar says, and I believe them, that the planet-wide garbage dump wasn’t there to make a deliberate political point, but just as a device to set up the background they needed to make the plot work. Still, it’s kind of plausible. In fact, the most unrealistic part of the plot, as I see it, isn’t the rampant consumerism or the complete death of the biosphere, but the clean, eternally sustainable, space liners where humanity survives for 500 years. But I’m a pessimist.
There are a couple of other minor things I particularly enjoyed. One, the second half of the credits feature an 8-bit style Wall-E and Eve (roughly) re-enacting the plot of the movie. I would play a game like this. Two, and I’ve mentioned this on Twitter before, if you imagine Wall-E as a sequel to Idiocracy, which you also need to see at your earliest convenience, it fits almost perfectly. I realized this early in the movie, when they show the mile-long Buy n’ Large, and from then on out, the movie was a lot funnier than it would have been otherwise.
Wanted, I kind of expected to be crap. I figured it would be entertaining as an action movie, but forgettable beyond the gunfights. I was shocked when it was actually good. Had a real plot (with a real plot twist), characters, the whole thing. It was actually good.
That said, the best part of the movie was still when a guy got his brains shot out, and then the main character stuck a gun through the hole in his head and ran around using the corpse as a meat shield while he shot other people through the hole in the brain. I know that probably sounds really horrible, but watching it, it was so ridicuous that I couldn’t help but laugh uncontrollably. The imagery reaches Tarantino levels of violence - wholly unfathomable, and so over the top that the mind stops percieving it as even violent. It’s on the level of Taye Diggs getting his face cut off in Equilibrium, or the Agent jumping on a car and the car blowing up from Matrix Reloaded.
There are a couple of oddball things, like a giant loom that tells you who to kill by encoding their names into a weave in binary (which it’s been doing for a thousand years, so one has to wonder what sort of character encoding it’s using - this predates ASCII by more than a bit. Sadly, that point is never expanded on), or the idea of curving the path of a bullet by holding your gun like an idiot. Still, it’s an action movie, so I’m willing to suspend disbelief in the name of Angelina Jolie laying on the hood of a moving car and firing a shotgun.
Wanted apparently has almost nothing in common with the source material, a comic book that I haven’t read, which from what I hear only makes it better. It’s hilarious when it tries to be, the gun battles are ridiculously awsome, and everyone gets their comeuppins’ in deeply satisfying ways by the end. Totally worth seeing.