The Lane Train

News and Pop Culture for the Blog Generation

Weekend Box Office Preview: Robots vs. Assassins

Posted by thelanetrain on June 27, 2008

After last weekend’s release of two mediocre comedies, this weekend brings two new highly anticipated summer movies to the big screen.  On the left is Disney/Pixar’s latest release Wall-E, a family movie about a robot in space, and on the right is Wanted, an action flick loosely based around a group of assassins but heavy on the special effects and blowing-shit-up.  At least Michael Bay isn’t directing the latter.

After The Jump: What you should know before you hit the theatres (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Before we begin the rest of this post, a little disclaimer:  I haven’t actually seen either of the movies yet, mostly because I am not a member of any major news-media or press outlet, nor do I have the opportunity to see major and independent releases before they hit their scheduled release dates, so I go solely upon trailer/teaser observations and what other critics have said, so forgive me if it seems (as our commenter Freddie so eloquently put it) like “a masturbatory exercise in pretending to be a real film critic.”  Beeteedubs, if you could get me press passes to see movies BEFORE they’re released to the mainstream audience so that I can write a review that suits YOUR taste, that’d be awesome!  Thanks!  Anyway…

WALL-E is Disney’s big animated summer movie this year, and features a tiny human cast.  That’s because most of the voices in the film were done with a computer.  The human voice talent, however, is pretty good.  Funnyman Fred Willard and Sigourney Weaver are just some of the talent used in the feature.  The film takes place in the year 2700, when Earth is no longer inhabitable and humans have relocated to a space resort so that robots can clean the planet up and make it safe for living again.  WALL-E is the last remaining robot of his class and spends his days compacting garbage.  Suddenly, a spaceship lands, and a new robot, EVE, arrives, apparently searching for something on Earth.  While on Earth, EVE starts falling for WALL-E, until EVE deactivates after seeing a plant that WALL-E owns, and the two are somehow sent back to the spaceship.  The robots then face a difficult journey in trying to convince the ships pilots that it is possible for life to exist on earth and for humanity to come back and resettle.

The movie has received fantastic reviews and has a 98% overall fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Many critics agree that the heart-warming story line, stellar animation, and Disney fun lead to the general success of the movie.  This is no news for Pixar, whose films always receive consistently high scores in the art department.  Our favorite review goes to Todd McCarthy of Variety.  While the other critics endlessly gush their hearts out over how awesome the film is, McCarthy simply writes:

Pixar’s ninth consecutive wonder of the animated world is a simple yet deeply imagined piece of speculative fiction…it has plenty to say, but does so in a light, insouciant manner that allows you to take the message or leave it on the table.

In other words, the film delivers a powerful (if not overdone) message about future life with the current trends of pollution, technology, and progress, but instead of shoving it down your throat (like other films), they create a light-hearted story around it which then asks the viewer if he or she cares to agree with the film’s implicit message.  But chances are you’ll just be going ga-ga for the adorable robots.

WANTED, on the other hand, is a high-octane action packed thriller that features guns, bullets, explosives, and cleavage to deliver just under two hours of eye-popping special effects and average acting.  The movie, which is loosely based on the graphic novel series by Mark Millar, centers around a young urban slacker named Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy).  Gibson has a pretty humdrum life until he meets a sexy young woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie).  Soon after, Wes’s father is murdered and Fox recruits Wes into The Fraternity, a group of assassins who take death orders from an overseeing organization called The Loom of Fate, to avenge his father’s death.  With additional guidance from The Fraternity’s leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), Wes soon realizes the full extent of his powers, but quickly realizes the control he has over his ultimate destiny.

For a movie that would usually just get passed off as another unnecessary action film, critics generally agree that the film’s visual effects and atypical sequence play out favorably on the big screen, particularly as an alternative to the other comic-book based action movies.  But some critics feel the story is stupid, or that the violence is excessive.  In addition, the original series serves only as a jumping-off platform for the movie to start on, and the overall sequence of events has little to do with the book’s plot itself, so die-hard fans may be disappointed.  Our choice review goes to Tom Long of The Detroit News, who sums up our thoughts exactly:

“Wanted may be the most absolutely stone bonkers, crazy-good movie of the century. Or it may be a gargantuan piece of trash. Chances are it’s a combination of the two. But man, does it rock.”

To be honest, I’ve been wanting to see this movie since I saw the trailers and previews come out, and since the production staff even rewrote the female role specifically for Angelina Jolie, chances are this movie should be hot, loud, and in your face exciting.

Overall, expect WALL-E to take the Box Office this week, with Wanted close on its heels at second.  As for the rest of the top five, we predict Get Smart, The Incredible Hulk, and Indiana Jones.

(Images via First Showing and I Am The Lost Girl)

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One Response to “Weekend Box Office Preview: Robots vs. Assassins”

  1. ReelTime said

    The Wanted looks more than skippable in my opinion. Wall-E is supposed to be a big time Pixar, one of the “Big Five” that were all put onto the drawing board when Pixar was first getting it’s start… ie. Toy Story days. This is supposed to be the final one of the five, so hopefully it lives up to the magic of the others.

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