Weekend Forecast for June 27-29, 2008
By Reagen Sulewski
June 27, 2008
In a summer season based on tentpoles, few companies are more consistent about delivering them than Pixar. This year's output from them has the chance to be one of their biggest.
Wall-E is one of the fabled (apparently) "Original Ideas" of Pixar, and the last to be made of that group. It's also, by many standards, the most ambitious of that group, which included Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Cars, which is telling you something right there. Set in a future where the Earth has been used up and abandoned, the central and titular character is a waste disposal unit that has been left behind, and has been cleaning up for hundreds of years, just diligently doing his job like he's been programmed to do.
After inadvertently and unknowingly discovering a key to the Earth becoming habitable again, he stows away on a scout ship with the help of Eve, a sleek, newer model robot. A romance ensues as the two robots adventure through the ship, hoping to bring their evidence to light before it's too late and Earth is lost forever.
The killer app, so to speak, of Wall-E is the title character, who looks like an anthropomorphized hybrid of E.T. and Johnny 5. Incredibly expressive, with some visible neuroses, it's an adorable creation from a studio that has a masterful touch in creating inanimate characters and bringing them to life.
This touch is necessary because Pixar has gone the extra step of making the film almost entirely without voice acting, with mostly sound effects for its core characters, the robots, and just a handful of human actors. It's a daring but confident move that means director Andrew Stanton (who helmed Nemo and A Bug's Life) is relying entirely on his visual story telling ability. Hands up everyone who doesn't think he can do it. Not so fast, people.
Pixar movies have rarely had massive opening weekends, generally holding to solid if unspectacular numbers for their debuts. The big exception was Nemo, which opened to $70 million. Wall-E may be the film to challenge and surpass that, with rapturous reviews and a sublime advertising campaign. Opening in close to 4,000 venues, Wall*E should be in the neighborhood of $73 million for its debut.
Flipping to a polar opposite of that family film, we have Wanted, starring James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie. Based on a comic that you've likely never heard of, Wanted follows McAvoy as he's inducted into a secret society of assassins that is his birthright. Discovering latent abilities to do things like shoot the wings off of flies (seriously dude, fly swatters are quieter and safer) and to bend bullets around corners, it's like a strange combination of Fight Club and The Matrix.