Browsing Tag

Not since the death of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn has a sci-fi film truly expressed the emotional state of characters set in the far, far future. Today, on the small screen, at least, the science fiction genre is rich with emotional, compelling stories each week, but the silver screen versions, where two hours are usually devoted to action and “wow” moments, are sometimes lacking in the major development of what it means to be human. What better way to exemplify such a human emotion as love than two robots in Pixar Animation Studio’s latest opus, WALL-E.

The tale of WALL-E is easily Pixar’s most melancholy and glum tale to date, easily surpassing the Disney staple of “your mom is dead, here’s a life lesson” embodied since the release of Bambi. WALL-E is most likely the last surviving, functioning robot of his kind, his primary directive is to gobble up trash in his shell, compact it down into neatly stacked cubes, and await humans to return to Earth after it was polluted and left for dead. However, WALL-E has developed personality, and through repeated watching of his cherished Hello, Dolly! tape, he’s trying to love, although being alone (sans a cockroach friend) makes this difficult.

Enter EVE, the object of WALL-E’s affections throughout the 90 minute tale, EVE was sent from the massive AXIOM spaceship to seek out life on Earth, alerting mankind that the forlorn planet has recovered enough (after 700 years) to support human life again. WALL-E eventually follows EVE back to the AXIOM and becomes a hero for malfunction robots, and a hero for all human kind.

The social undertones of the film are present in the none-too-subtle opening shots of the planet in utter disarray. Stacks of compacted garbage cubes stand taller than the world’s tallest skyscrapers as WALL-E has been busy for 700 years. The oceans have dried up, plant life is near-to-none-existent, and the air is so polluted it makes Los Angeles look like Aspen. While a direct environmental message isn’t beaten into the audience, after all, this is a G-rated family film, the effects of humanities’ gluttony is easy recognizable, and when we are re-introduced to humans aboard the AXIOM, it’s basically what you would expect.

The film itself is a masterpiece of storytelling and art direction with each cog coming together to build a working, magnificent machine, capable of entertaining, saddening, and eventually making you cry with joy as the final act plays out. The beginning 30 minutes of the film are a harkening back to the era of silent films where a character’s actions were representations of the emotions we couldn’t usually see or hear about through dialog. WALL-E and EVE’s interaction, although cold at first, eventually warms up to the point where they are the most human characters in the film, they represent hope in the most dire situations, and for that Pixar and Academy Award-winning director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) has outdone themselves once again.

Just sitting in the theater seeing the once cold EVE replay the recorded memories of WALL-E protecting her after she completed her mission and deactivated was both heartbreaking and uplifting, showing the spirit the little robot had gained from a few pieces of seemingly innocent human culture.The film can bring you to tears, and have you laughing the next minute, a seemingly endless onslaught of emotional impact.

Everything about the film clicks and comes together in one of the best packages Pixar, or anyone else has ever assembled, live action or not. WALL-E is the antithesis of films like The Love Guru where one can proudly say that they have a love affair with cinema and movies that draw you in, and never let you go. Such a proud package has you happy for two animated robots, twice removed from reality, and potentially turning into the most talked about couple of the year.

Brad Bird knows how to make an animated movie, scratch that, Brad Bird knows how to make a masterpiece of a movie, period, his just so happen to be animated films with enough character, class, humor, love, and everything else that goes into making award worthy cinema. After the success of The Incredibles and its adult slant on Pixar’s well known writing, Ratatouille furthers Pixar’s reign as the animation powerhouse in the industry with a masterpiece that can only be described as magnificent.

Ratatouille is the film that justifies the move to computer generated animation from traditional, hand drawn 2D. The film has so much personality, so much style, so much everything in the design of the kitchen right down to the ears of the rats which gives each and every one a little something different to make them stand out.


Sure the story is a bit far fetched, a rat, Remy (Patton Oswalt), longs to become a masterful chief, using his heightened senses to create the most elaborate of dishes. Problem is, as a rat there isn’t a whole lot he can do in the real world. In comes Linguini, a garbage boy with a subtle flair for making dishes that taste horrible. After Remy aids Linguini in making a delicious soup, it’s up to the pair to keep their secret hidden and to avoid any unneeded questions.

Ratatouille isn’t the funniest Pixar film, but for a G-rated animated film, this comedy provides more than enough laughs to make it through it s nearly two-hour runtime. There are times when the film slows down and when plot devices are overused and noticed from miles away, but none of this really matters as the majority of the movie would be considered the “good” part, and these “good” parts nearly blow away any ill-feelings you might have towards the film.

The strongest point is the script, albeit flawed in parts, as described above, the character of Remy is developed in such a way that you honestly feel for him and his plight, do you choose the life you were born for, or do you follow your dream?  With a supporting cast including the talents of Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett, and old stand-by John Ratzenberger, there’s a lot of comedy genius working on this film, once again, making each character unique and fitting into Bird’s vision.


Ratatouille is Pixar’s finest film, and regardless of its opening box office numbers, the film’s strongest point is its unforgettable characters. Sure you may not recognize members of the cast, and you may not feel all that great about rats in the kitchen, but this movie is served for you fresh and ready to go. All you need to do is sit back and savor it.

Computer animation has come a long way since the debut of Toy Story in 1995. Since then we have seen Pixar Animation Studios re-up itself four times, with each successive movie getting better and better. We have also seen DreamWorks emerge to try and steal Disney/Pixar’s crown of best in the business. While Shrek and Shrek 2 have the pop-culture references and one-liners to make them stand-out hits, Pixar’s films, like The Incredibles, have the ability to stand the test of time and are destined to be classics for generations to come. This isn’t to say anyone will forget the Shrek series of films, but where Pixar takes a different road and subject with each film, DreamWorks runs the risk of milking Shrek straight into mediocrity.

The Incredibles, from director Brad Bird, lives up to its name. Simply put, the movie is incredible to watch and gives us everything we expect from Pixar’s sixth full-length outing. Like the Toy Story series, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo, The Incredibles relies on a smart, witty script crafted for adults and children alike, although things are a bit different this time around. Pixar’s previous movies seemed to balance the jokes between adults and children, satisfying both groups adequately, but with The Incredibles, the scales seem to be tipped in favor of more adult oriented jokes that will fly right over the heads of children. One example of this is towards the climax of the film when a group of guards prepare to have a drinking game while watching monitors of Syndrome’s (Jason Lee) creation tear apart the city. I laughed, really loud, or so it seemed with no one else making a peep in the theater. Still, parents shouldn’t be hesitant to let their children view the movie, as most of the more “mature” jokes won’t even be noticed.

What will be noticed is the PG rating, and the amount of press it has received in the last couple of weeks. This marks a first for Pixar, who obtained G ratings for all of their previous releases, but it doesn’t hinder the movie in any way, simply because the animated violence, even as realistic as this, is still so cartoon-oriented that no-one will be taking it seriously. Although mostly taking place off-screen, this film has, by far, the highest body count for any animated Disney film.

As with any animated film, the quality of the animation is only one part of a complex puzzle, the other is excellent voice work, and The Incredibles excels just as we thought it would. The cast is headlined by Craig T. Nelson (Coach) as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible and Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl who do an excellent job playing husband and wife, superhero leads. In an underutilized supporting role is Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone. This is one of the parts of the movie that left me a bit disappointed, the lack of exploration of Jackson’s character. He was prominently featured in the trailer, but isn’t on screen for much of the movie. Stepping into the villain role of Buddy/Syndrome is Jason Lee who is his usual marvelous self.

The Incredibles really shows how Pixar has evolved, not only in story telling, but in animation as well. Seeing Toy Story, and then nearly ten years later seeing The Incredibles side by side is an eye candy treat. When I first saw Woody and Buzz hiding under a pick-up truck at the gas station in Toy Story I was amazed. Now I see realistic explosions and a robot tearing apart cities built in a retro-60’s style and my jaw still hits the floor. The animation shouldn’t overshadow the story (something Sky Captain couldn’t overcome) but with Pixar they are six for six when crafting intelligent stories and appeal to all ages.

There isn’t much else I can say about The Incredibles that hasn’t already been said here or on another site. The film is full of life, interesting characters, great animation, humor, action, violence, and pop-culture references. The film has the legs to stand the test of time, and while it may never be the box office success that Shrek 2 has become, the film stands, right now, as the finest film to come out of the uber-talented Pixar Animation Studios. With all the studio’s wrangling with Disney aside, this company can put out an excellent movie worth of the label “Ten Best of the Year.” If you love movies, it is your duty to see The Incredibles, as I’m sure you will be just as entertained as I was.