Like Christmas promotions, it seems like the summer movie season tries to start earlier and earlier every year. This year was no exception, however, the movies offered early to the public were pretty lackluster. Prior to last weekend, I’d seen the Indiana Jones movie and “Don’t Mess with Zohan.” I didn’t like the Indiana Jones movie and “Zohan,” though hilarious and good use of $11 and 2-hours, lacked the “BOOM” I look for in a good summer movie. I’m happy to say, though, this 4th of July week finally offers movies worthy of being called “Summer Blockbusters.”
Last weekend I had the pleasure of viewing “Wanted” and “Wall-E.” “Wanted” is a violent action-adventure movie of the same ilk as the “Matrix.” There’s lots of guns, killing, running, bullets, and more bullets coupled with a main character who overcomes the angst of life in the cubicle farm. The icing on the cake for me was the use of Nine Inch Nails’ cube farm anthem “Everyday is Exactly the Same” as a running theme song at the beginning of the movie. Angelina Jolie is in this movie and she’s bad-a** as usual. Morgan Freeman is in this movie too and we get to hear him drop a couple of F-bombs. The ending was also quite unexpected but very fitting and fulfilling. I cannot stress how violent this movie is. In my opinion it is a “strong R” rated movie so I don’t recommend taking kids under 12 or 13 (or older, depending on your family values and the mental maturity of your children) and I don’t recommend this movie for squeemish adults. However, if you liked the Matrix movies or movies with wall-to-wall action and gun play, then this is the movie for you.
“Wall-E” is a family friendly movie that even toddlers will understand at some level. This movie starts on a desolate Earth that humans have abandoned for the comfort and convenience of the pleasure cruise ship like space ship. Wall-E appears to be the last little robot on Earth that is still functioning and performing the duty of compacting the mountains of waste from the “Big and Lots” stores that, at one point, dominated the US. From here we watch Wall-E’s daily life and his adventure when a Apple-esque white robot shows up. A lot of the movie has no dialog which really highlights the skill of the animators’ ability to communicate through gestures and facial expressions. Some of this movie feels “testbed-like” in that it looks like the animators were trying new technology and algorithms and this just happened to be a convenient vehicle to use. Most notable are the terrain textures and the movements during flying scenes which did not look at all overly smooth and perfect. I believed in the reality of the situation. I was fully engaged in the story and so were the children in the theater with us. I think silent children, even amongst the under 2 crowd, is the sign of a good family movie. It shows that there are several layers of story are being communicated to engage people of all ages. Non-verbal communication reaches out to toddlers, children, and adults alike. Something I noticed about this movie is that there is a strong environmental message, but I didn’t feel like it was being shoved down my throat. I was not upset about pitiful state of the Earth, which easily in unskilled hands, could have been depressing or cloyingly preachy. This is a great movie! If you don’t have kids and want to avoid the germs that kids bring, see this movie after ~9PM.
Anyhow, “Wanted” and “Wall-E” are two great summer movies. “Wanted” is a fun adult movie while “Wall-E” is thoughtful kid-friendly entertainment. I recommend both for good old fashion summer fun.