Friday, June 27, 2008

In this box-office battle, I'm with "Wall-E"

It gives me an odd feeling to say I'm probably just too old for the giddy gunplay of a movie like "Wanted" but more than ready to go ga-ga for an animated flick about a robot in love, but that's how the movie weekend is shaping up here.

Now, don't get me wrong: I love stylish violence as much as the next dude. And I don't even usually mind it when reality isn't anywhere to be found.

Easily one of my favorite movies from last summer was "Shoot 'Em Up," which delivered exactly what the title promises. Paul Giamatti was extremely funny and Clive Owen was as cool as Monica Bellucci was hot in this bullet ballet that played out like a cartoon and was apparently seen by only me and about 57 or so other people. If you're among the masses who missed it and aren't offended by a flick so off-kilter that one of the main gags is about a baby being in an almost constant state of peril, rent this one today and just give in to it.

So, why then can't I get too amped for "Wanted"? One reason, and I admit it might just be a silly one. In the trailer, which I'm sure everyone's seen more than once by now, James McAvoy appears to fire a bullet straight at Angelina Jolie's head, but manages to put enough "topspin" on it that it curves around her at the last second. Like I said, I guess I'm just too old, but if I can't buy that bit of baloney I don't think I'll have too much fun chomping down on the whole thing.

Besides, and not unexpectedly, the deck is just stacked in favor of "Wall-E" this weekend. Pixar's new creation will open in 3,992 theaters, to only 3,175 for "Wanted." This doesn't factor in that "Wall-E" will prolly be shown at least 15 times a day in each of those theaters, to no more than maybe half that total for "Wanted." People who get paid to do box-office projections don't expect "Wall-E" to reach the $70 million openings enjoyed by both "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles," but I'm betting the little guy will be closer to or better than $80 million.

But can "Wall-E" really be as good as the rather unbelievable and universal love from critics would have us believe? I want to be at least a little bit skeptical, but given how hard I fell for "Ratatouille" I'm fairly certain I won't be disappointed. In the Macon Telegraph, we most often run Roger Moore of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel for two reasons: 1. He turns in his reviews earlier than anyone else and 2. I get to pick the reviews and I think he's just about the closest thing to the people's critic working now. Here's a sample of what he had to say about "Wall-E":

The late, great Stanley Kubrick ("2001:A Space Odyssey") used to say that if you can turn off the sound and still follow the story, you've made a film, but if you black out the picture and can still follow the story with only the sound, you haven't. "WALL-E," a savvy sci-fi Pixar comedy, has almost no dialogue. But with images and sound effects alone, it touches, it teaches and it tickles. It's the best Pixar film since "Finding Nemo."

I'm trying hard to keep my already sky-high hopes in check, but I assure you my mind will be on "Wall-E" all day while I'm supposed to be working. And if I'm somehow just dead wrong about "Wanted," please feel free to let me know.

Hollywood's next war will be ... in Greece?

And since escapist wonders like "300" make more money than any of the flicks about the actual war going around us now, I suppose it makes perfect sense.

First, Relativity Media bought a script for something called "War of Gods," to be directed by visionary Tarsem Singh (and before you even accuse me of throwing around the visionary label too easily, at least go see Tarsem's "The Fall," easily one of my favorite movies of this year so far and just a real feat of storytelling.)

Now, only one day later, Warner Bros. has signed "The Incredible Hulk" director Louis Leterrier to direct a Lawrence Kasdan-scripted remake of "Clash of the Titans." I'm as sick as anyone of the need to remake just about everything in sight, so call me none too excited about this one.

So now, of course, the race is on to see who's able to pump out their epic first. In "War of Gods," the warrior prince Theseus leads his men into battle against evil that will see the gods fighting with soldiers against demons and titans (man will it be cool to see what Tarsem can do with all that!) And in "Clash of the Titans," as many will remember, Perseus, the son of Zeus, must overcome a series of obstacles to save his beloved Princess Andromeda.

So, it looks like we really might not have to wait for five years for Tarsem to make another movie, and I can only say huzzah to that.

No Emmy love for "Battlestar Galactica"? Color me not surprised

I'm finished railing against the maddening taste of Emmy voters, so I'll simply share the list of 10 semi-finalists in the comedy and drama categories.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Family Guy
Flight of the Conchords
The Office
Pushing Daisies
30 Rock
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty

Only two brief thoughts about that: How in the world can you include the scattershot-at-best "Family Guy" (which I do still watch) but not the still-brilliant "South Park"? And second, a hearty huzzah for the inclusion of "Pushing Daisies." Don't be too surprised if this imaginative show somehow pulls an upset and wins the whole shebang.

Boston Legal
Friday Night Lights
Grey’s Anatomy
Mad Men
The Tudors
The Wire

Go, go, go "Friday Night Lights" and "Mad Men"! The inclusion of "The Wire" on this list is bittersweet at best, since it comes only after that show has ended its five-season run (and with a series finale that just wrapped up way too neatly by "Wire" standards!) Since that's the pattern, I guess we can expect to see "Battlestar Galactica" make the semi-finalist cut next year only after it has ended its run on Sci-Fi.

And in one great programming note, CBS has announced we should tune in at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 22 to see if Stella says yes to Ted's marriage proposal on "How I Met Your Mother." No matter what she says, here's hoping we get to see a LOT more of Sarah Chalke on season four this fall!

A full gallery of "Dark Knight" shots

OK, I know this is more than a little long today, but could I really stop before guiding folks to the full press kit of photos for "The Dark Knight"? Go ahead and spend at least a little of your workday time perusing the full gallery supplied by here.

And, finally, a clip from "X-Files"

From what I've seen so far, Billy Connolly seems to have at least as big a role in Chris Carter's upcoming "X-Files: I Want To Believe" as either Mulder or Scully, but I'm still nothing but excited to see what he's come up with when this finally drops a week after "The Dark Knight." Enjoy this new clip and go see "Wall-E" this weekend. Peace out.


Chris said...

Wall-E is one of those movies you have sky-high hopes for and somehow it doesn't disappoint. It's truly a classic that I feel holds up with the very best in film.

And Wanted is good, too. I think it was good that I watched it first...but if you like the Hong Kong John Woo flicks and some light borrowing from tons of sci-fi, it fits the bill.

Ian said...

"Wanted" has just opened here (in the UK) too, but I don't buy it. There is absolutely no chemistry between the two leads in any of the clips we've been shown, and I just don't buy James McAvoy either as Jolie's romantic interest OR as an action hero.

Going to a preview of "Wall-E" on Sunday morning - not sure when it officially opens here, but really looking forward to it, although I can't help feeling the most recent trailer shown in cinema's gives far too much of the story away.

Reel Fanatic said...

I love getting two dissenting views from people I trust! ... I do really enjoy the early Woo flicks, Chris, so I just might have to give Wanted a chance .. Your point about chemistry though, Ian, is one that I suspected might be a problem after watching the trailer ... We're actually having a special screening of "Sling Blade" in downtown Macon Sunday afternoon (we do love our Southern flicks!) with Col. Bruce Hampton from Doyle's band on hand to answer questions afterward, so that and "Wall-E" might just fill up my movie weekend and make "Wanted" have to wait a week or two anyway

Linda said...

Wall-e is an amazing piece from Pixar. There's almost no dialog, and the plot is crystal clear. Funny, endearing and sound. I can't wait to see it again, and it will have a place in my DVD collection as well.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for your rave, Linda .. About the only negative thing I have found anyone say about "Wall-E" (and I could only find one person who said it) is that it is too "somber" for summer, which really just make too much sense to me, but I'll find out very soon for myself!

kat said...

So, so tempting to click on the X-Files clip I'm going to be good. I want to be very, very surprised on July 25th.

I agree there are some questionable omissions in the preliminary Emmy categories. I'm not sure in what world "Two and a Half Men" trumps "How I Met Your Mother." I even thought we might see "Californication" pop up on the best comedy list being that DD snagged best actor for it at the Golden Globes. Very pleased for "Pushing Daisies" though and "Flight of the Conchords" to get some notice. I agree that "Pushing Daisies" could be a sneak surprise win. Fingers crossed.

On the drama side, I am as unsurprised by the semi-finalists as I am weary of Grey's Anatomy. In general I love "House" and think it (meaning Hugh Laurie) has been unduly overlooked by Emmy but this season was really uneven. Out of 16 episodes, 4 were stellar and would blow any show out of the water. At least they submitted one of the 4 for Emmy consideration. On the other hand, every. single. episode of "Mad Men" just plain rocked. As did "Dexter." So my vote is torn between a show that I love, love, love down to the marrow of my bones but revealed some real vulnerabilities this year versus two series that didn't miss a single beat all season. (Though, to be fair, neither were disrupted by the strike, either.)

kat said...

And oh yes, I am working my way through "The Wire." I just started season 4. it. I like it quite a bit. But I can't say that I am deeply in love with it or consider it the best show ever on television like so many rave. Maybe because it so often feels "profound" or "provocative" that I often miss the entertainment value of it.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks so much for the very reasoned Emmy commentary, Kat .. I am as disappointed as you that "How I Met Your Mother" isn't the CBS comedy that gets the most love, because that one and "The Office" are the only sitcoms that I never, ever miss .. and I'm glad you've stuck with "The Wire" ... Seasons three and four were the best of all for my money, and season four was just about the best thing I've ever seen on TV (so put me firmly in the camp of people who tend to just heap unbelievable praise on "The Wire") .. Season five, when it finally comes out, will be more than a little of a letdown, but dont let that stop you from watching it anyway ... and like you, I have nothing but mad love for "Mad Men" and "Pushing Daisies"!

Ian said...

Good to hear the recommendations for TV drama series. You guys (Americans) produce so much quality work in this area, although I always have to wait for the UK shiny discs to catch up on them.

"The Wire" is stacked up waiting to be seen, although with four series waiting keeps falling back on the viewing list.

Got a ridiculous "back stash" at the moment. Half way through "Dexter" (which I love), with Californication Season 1, "Oz" Season 5 (we're way behind on this series on UK releases), "Mad Men Series 1", "4400" Series 2 through 4, "Jericho" Season 1, "Prison Break" Season 3 and a bunch of others all sat in the 'to be seen' pile.

Compared to the above I can't think of a single British drama series that I'm keen to see, which is kind of depressing.

Reel Fanatic said...

It really is a great time for TV dramas, Ian, especially on cable, but the Brits will still, I think, always have the edge when it comes to comedy, where it seems like up to half our shows are just pale imitations of British imports

Bob said...

"WALL-E" was great! I posted my review a few minutes ago. It's definitely the best movie I've seen this year. As for "Wanted" I really have no interest. Maybe it's just because I hate Angelina Jolie but I really don't want to see it at all.
And go "Mad Men" and "Flight of the Conchords!"

Adamgv said...

Very good blog. I wish you much success.

Cullen said...

Took the family to see Wall-E on Saturday. We all really enjoyed it as well.

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