700 years ago, humans abandoned the trash-covered Earth for what was supposed to be a five year space cruise while robots cleaned up the mess the humans left behind. 700 years later, one little robot is left, still compacting and piling blocks of trash. Wall-E has developed a bit of a soul over the years and like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, has a collection of interesting human memorabilia (among them a spork, a Rubik's cube and a VHS copy of Hello Dolly! which he plays over and over). One day, a survey droid named EVE is sent to look for evidence of photosynthesis. For Wall-E, it's love at first byte (sorry, I couldn't help the pun). Using minimal dialog and hilarious visuals, first-time director John Lassiter (who has previously done voice work in many Pixar hits) imbues his anthropomorphic robot characters with far more soul than the fat, nearly-boneless humans who have evolved on the giant spaceship Axiom (their hover-chairs and service bots have long since turned them into nearly useless, complacent and blubbery drones, themselves). The few voices are provided by Jeff Garlin, Kathy Najimy, John Ratzenburger (Pixar's ever-present lucky charm) and Sigourney Weaver as the voice of Axiom's computer. Delightful, funny and even romantic, Wall-E is a film for more than just "family" audiences. **** (Four Stars)
Next I watched the comic-book-inspired Wanted, starring James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and Terence Stamp in a story about a wimpy and neurotic accountant named Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) who is unable to find a single entry about himself on Google, but is soon recruited by a secret society of assassins known only as "The Fraternity." Fox (Jolie) tells Wesley that his father was the greatest assassin who ever lived and that he had been killed that very morning. Wesley, believing his father abandoned him as a baby, is hesitant until he starts getting shot at.
After a training period in which Wesley learns to use the hidden talents he'd always mistaken for anxiety attacks, he and Fox start taking on assignments, killing people whose names are encoded in the weavings of a mystical loom in The Fraternity's headquarters. Outrageous stunts, ridiculous action sequences and plenty of bullets, blood and mayhem ensue as Wesley gets closer and closer to the truth about both his father and The Fraternity. A park-your-brain-at-the-door movie on the order of Crank, Wanted is terrific and bizarre popcorn movie of the highest order. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Daywatch; Nightwatch and the upcoming Twilight Watch), Wanted isn't likely to win any awards other than for special effects, but it's a very fun way to waste an hour and half or so. **/2 (Two and a Half Stars).
More of this, anon.