This was the weekend that I was determined to get caught up on this summer’s flicks. In addition to the aforementioned Dark Knight, I also took in Hellboy II and WALL*E.
Vic and I went to Hellboy II on Friday night, when everyone (and I mean everyone, I think the whole county was there) was seeing Batman. The multiplex literally canceled all of the evening screenings at one of the two auditoriums slated for Hellboy to handle Bat-overflow. Poor Hellboy: number one last week, now a forgotten freak. Someone at Universal should have their head examined for opening it a week before Batmania.
I enjoyed Hellboy II quite a bit, though it didn’t reach my too-high expectations. I love the breezy humor of the Hellboy films, and I appreciate that this version of the character is still a part of the B.P.R.D. team. (Unlike Mike Mignola’s comics series, which for years has had Hellboy on a solo vision quest.)
I was initially intrigued by the premise of the film, in which the faerie world intended to rise up against modern humanity, but I was disappointed that the rebellion was really just one pissed-off elf. In general, I found the villain of the piece uninteresting.
However, the imagination on display was enthralling. I loved the humongous plant elemental, the chattering tooth fairies and the many strange denizens of the Troll Market. I also got a kick out of the many background details, such as the episode of Night Gallery on Hellboy’s TV and the inclusion of one of the aliens from Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” which is said to be one of director Guillermo del Toro’s dream film projects.
I do hope that there will be a Hellboy III, though I’m concerned that the Batman-fueled audience drop-off may discourage that. I like this cast, and I want to see them pay off the still-percolating idea that Hellboy himself is destined to be the harbinger of the Apocalypse.
Today we went to see WALL*E. Now, normally I don’t like to comment on people that I know personally in this blog, but I feel that I must make an exception. Recently, one of my friends (who shall remain nameless, but knows who he is) told me that not only didn’t he enjoy WALL*E, but that he was bored by it. Now, I mean this with all due respect, but…
You, sir, are a crack-smoking monkey. (I still love ya, man.)
Rarely do I reach the end of a movie and feel the desire to stand up and applaud, but this was such a case. I sincerely believe this is Pixar’s greatest effort to date. It’s sweet, sad, uplifting and hilarious. It takes its liabilities–little dialogue, mechanical characters and a garbage-choked future–and turns them into huge advantages.
WALL*E himself is a triumph of wringing expression and personality out of often subtle movement. But even more impressive is the “acting ability” of his lady love EVE, who has less of a face and even fewer moving parts. And who knew one could make such a winning character out of a mute, unnamed cockroach?
The Pixar animators have terrific comic timing, as they prove in the short that precedes WALL*E. Presto is an excellent throwback to the physics ballet of vintage Warner Bros. cartoons, with its central conceit–a pair of linked magical hats–played out in endless permutations. WALL*E follows with many fun sight gags of its own.
The main feature is something of a Lorax for the new millennium, but it takes Dr. Seuss’ storyline a step further by having its characters actually plant the seed and reclaim the Earth. And while its eco-friendly message may not be anything new, it’s got a second moral up its sleeve: that you can accomplish miracles if you just get off your dead, fat ass. I think it’s telling that the fate of the human race ultimately depends on someone pushing a button marked “manual.”
One of the many things I loved about WALL*E is the way that its title character touches everyone he meets. His quirky friendliness literally causes others to consider new perspectives and try new things, from something as simple as waving goodbye to the rebellious act of willfully jumping off one’s assigned path.
Like many movie summers, this one often makes up in volume what it lacks in substance, so it’s nice when something like WALL*E comes along as a good example of the latter.