Writer/director Andrew Stanton (both Toy Storys, Finding Nemo) is a genius. Packed with imagery, WALL*E is multidimensional. Dig a little deeper, and those dimensions have dimensions. While humorously exploring a multitude of social issues unique to this generation, Stanton's story also is simple, and he connects his cute robots to your kids and the kid in you. WALL*E is a first-rate, rivet-you-to-your-seat laugh fest.
Set 700 years into the future, Earth is literally a scrap yard and all vegetation is dead. Humans are exiled to a giant spaceship parked in a dusty nebula. Stuck in ever-moving lounge chairs, and fed gobs of calorie-packed goo via cup and straw, the now hyper-obese human beings have machines serving their every need. Reality is virtual.
Back on Earth, the film's main character is a robot named WALL*E. With cockroach pal in tow, WALL*E still is cleaning up the mess. Then EVA arrives and everything changes.
Metaphors aside, WALL*E also is the year's sweetest love story. To the strains of music from Hello Dolly, the looking-glass eyes of an average 8-to-5 blue-collar working-class machine are quickly turned by the svelte, supermodel robot of the future. She glides into his life and he falls hard. To her, his awkward clunking and clanking are endearing.
Their love is best expressed in a novel space chase. I envy those seeing this in a digital format.
What makes Stanton's story even more original is the nondialogue. Love unfolds in the clicks and clatter of robot chatter and their expressions and posture. It's beautiful.
I normally rate movies in zero to five stars. WALL*E is an exception. Give it a six.
Mr. Movie rating: 6 stars.
Rated G. Opens today at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas.
Based on a series of comic books, Wanted blends a semi-sci-fi plot with Matrix-like special effects. Hot up-and-coming blue-eyed actor James McAvoy (Atonement) teams with a buff pre-baby Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.
McAvoy's Wesley Gibson is stuck in a dead-end job and relationship. He swills anti-depressants and avoids conflict of any kind. It turns out his long-gone father was the world's best assassin and had the unique gift of being able to slow time and curve bullets.
Freeman is the leader of an ancient order of weavers who have a special loom that produces cloth that tells a group of assassins who should live or die. Like father, like son, Gibson gets recruited.
Jolie's suspect acting skills will remain suspect. With next to no lines, Jolie's sole purpose in Wanted is to pound people, shoot bad guys, do car chases and crashes, and punctuate the picture with pheromones. The film firmly cements Jolie as the world's most popular action hero but does little else.
McAvoy spends the entire movie being bloodied, bruised and bitter, and Freeman -- with nothing to do -- collects what is probably a fat paycheck.
For a young male, Wanted is the next best thing to Nirvana. Except that the R rating means a huge portion of its audience will have to bring mommy or daddy along.
Early action and excellent humor drive the movie, but with nowhere to go, it quickly devolves into a common chase movie. Not exactly what anybody "wanted."
Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars.
Rated R for violence, mature themes, language. Opens today at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas.
No one really knows how the life of Genghis Khan unfolded.
We have much speculation and one reality: The guy was a brilliant general and political strategist whose leadership united Mongolia and eventually formed the largest empire in history.
Writer/director Sergei Bodrov's Mongol introduces us to Genghis as the young boy Temujin picking a wife in 1172 and follows him through slavery, war, imprisonment and then to the uniting of Mongolia.
Mongol has layered looks as complex as its hero. It is coldly brutal and unyielding like the times. Then Bodrov switches gears and takes you on a tour of one of the most forbidding yet beautiful places on Earth.
Taking what little is known about his life, Bodrov patches together a history of a single-minded, focused man devoted to his wife, his family, his loyal friends and his country. If his take on the conqueror's life isn't true, it should be.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars.
Rated R for blood and gore and mature themes. Opens today at the Carmike 12.
Then She Found Me
Since the mega success of her TV show Mad About You and the four Emmys she earned and after picking up an Oscar for As Good as it Gets, Helen Hunt has shunned all things commercial and done her own thing.
The move to grow as an actress by stretching into uncomfortable, difficult roles is understandable. Her choices are the concern.
Then She Found Me puts Hunt in front of the camera as a confused and unhappy woman trying to have a baby. It also gives her a first shot at directing.
She's April Ebner, an approaching middle age woman who wants to have a baby. She breaks up with her immature husband only to learn she is finally pregnant. A new man in her life is bitter over being dumped by his wife.
Then along comes the "she found me" part. The mother who abandoned April is rich and famous. She wants to establish a relationship. Like Hunt's dilemma of trying to both act in and direct this movie, the last crisis is one too many.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars.
Rate R for mature themes, language. Opens today at the Carmike 12.