30 June 2008
WALL•E, the latest film from the wizards at Pixar, is pure movie magic, a rare picture of wonder, hope, joy, love and social conscience.
While most of its animated contemporaries are busy trying to be hip with pop culture references, WALL•E, written and directed by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), has more in common with classic silent films.
WALL•E, who speaks in beeps that form only an occasional word, is a direct descendant of Charlie Chaplin’s “Tramp” character, possessed as he is of the same lovable, naive earnestness that made Chaplin such an enduring and endearing screen icon.
Suddenly it’s feeling an awful lot like 1999. That was a pretty good year for movies, and two of the best were Fight Club and The Matrix. What would happen if you melded them together? Their offspring probably would be a little something like Wanted, a comic book-inspired film by Russian director Timur Bekmambetor (Night Watch, Day Watch).
James McAvoy, whose rise to fame has included roles in the Oscar-winning dramas Atonement and The Last King of Scotland, is Wesley Gibson, an accountant who spends his days in a cubicle, enduring the constant torment from his boss (Lorna Scott) and knowing his girlfriend (Kristen Hager) is cheating on him with his best friend (Chris Pratt). He introduces himself in narration dripping with apathy and cynicism. Appropriately, the Nine Inch Nails song “Every Day Is Exactly the Same” accompanies parts of the early sequence.
20 June 2008
So often, when filmmakers adapt classic TV shows for the big screen, the result is a parody. The actors are winking at the camera, saying, “Remember this old show? Look how much cooler we are.”
But now we have Get Smart, based on the 1960s TV series created by comedy god Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. You don’t need to spoof your source material when it’s that good.
In the role originated by Don Adams, Steve Carell stars as Maxwell Smart, an analyst for the spy agency CONTROL. Max is good at his job, routinely presenting exhaustive reports that include foreign terrorists’ coffee preferences. He’s so good, in fact, that the CONTROL chief (Alan Arkin) refuses to promote him to field agent, even though he aced the exam that should get him the job. Field agents are people like the dashing superstar Agent 23 (Dwayne “Don’t-Call-Him-The-Rock” Johnson) and the stunning Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).
12 June 2008
Banish all thoughts of Hulk, Ang Lee's somber, laborious 2003 feature. The Incredible Hulk, which comes from an unlikely source (Transporter 2 director Louis Leterrier), follows Iron Man as this year's second great comic book movie.
An opening montage—depicting the experiment gone wrong that causes Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) to transform into the massive, green-skinned Hulk when angered and the U.S. military's dogged pursuit of him—makes watching the earlier film unnecessary.
The action picks up several years later, with Banner in hiding in Brazil. Back home, Gen. Ross (William Hurt), the father of Banner's true love, Betty (Liv Tyler), has never given up the hunt. He wants to turn what happened to Banner into a weapon. An accident in a warehouse helps the general trace Banner to South America, to which he travels with a band of goons led by the over-eager Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth).