Review: WALL*E & Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Nothing much happened over the weekend for me, so I decided to watch to 2 movies in 2 days haha. I was really anticipating the latest Pixar offering, 'WALL*E', while I was dragged with my legs kicking to watch the other film, ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’. Here’s what I think…

Review: WALL*E

I always believed that the Disney’s greatest and most original characters were introduced to us way back during the golden years of ‘Snow White’, ‘Fantasia’ and even ‘The Lion King’. These characters and films stood the test of time and were cultural phenomenons that is and forever will be remembered for generations to come. But I wonder with the new generation of Disney characters, with the influence of Pixar, will they be just as timeless? The children in this age of ‘Playstations’, internets and 'iPods' were introduced to the staple of Buzz Lightyear, Nemo and Lightning McQueen, but will they survive the test of time? The new generation of youth being so fickle minded, and with new and cooler alternatives being introduced to them consistently, these new Disney characters really do have their work cut out for them. But are the golden years of Disney really so golden? Remember that decades ago Disney was the sole factory of all things movie animation, children did not have much choice, did they? Now we have Dreamworks that gave us ‘Shrek’, Fox with ‘Ice Age’ and not to forget our Asian counter-parts from Japan with their very original offerings. But whatever the outcome, only ‘ever after’ will we discover these answers.

Anyway, back to ‘WALL*E’. Being a Pixar offering, you can be rest assured that a high level of quality is in store for you. And with 'WALL*E', they did not disappoint. In fact, for me anyway, it exceeded my expectations. After coming out of the cinema hall, my mind was swirling with the notion that this is Pixar’s best picture since the introduction of ‘Toy Story’. No joke. It was a tremendous piece of story-telling told with almost no dialogue from its main characters. And the most surprising of all, everyone seemed to love it. Emotion, humor and action sequences were told with reliance on simple movements and interactions between the characters. And they did it with wildly imaginative aplomb.

As usual the animation is state-of-the-art, but what stood out as one of the greatest piece of animation master-work was the very emotive binocular-like (and VERY CUTE) eyes of 'WALL*E'. You will just have to watch it to believe it. All problems and stress will be immediately washed away once you stare at those puppy-cute eyes of 'WALL*E'. And when he moves, it has a completeness that 'WALL*E' achieves that will leave him (or it) be remembered for years to come. But let’s not forget 'EVE', the other main robot that is his companion. 'EVE' communicates her (or it) emotions through bodily shapes. Between the two, they have this special type of sweetness that will stroke the emotions of all ages, and is also universally touching.

After watching ‘WALL*E’, I cannot help but to compare this film to ‘E.T’, whereby Steven Spielberg successfully managed to encapsulate the feeling of childhood isolation and the delight of discovering true friendship between a boy and an alien, while ‘WALL*E’ is able to connect with the viewers’ hearts and emotions through two simple robots, but emotionally complex, with limited dialogue. As challenging as that may sound, the director Andrew Stanton from ‘Finding Nemo’ pulled off a masterstroke with enduring skill. It is hard not to fall for the charms of ‘WALL*E’, and surely this latest member of the Pixar family will indeed successfully stand the test of time. Best Animation Film of the year thus far (sorry ‘Kung-Fu Panda’!!!)…

Verdict: 9 / 10 (WALL*E)

Review: ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’

I love ‘Star Wars’. Well, ask any guy and see who doesn’t (Ok, maybe 80% of all guys likes it. My point is it’s a majority lah). But after watching this latest addition to the ‘Star Wars’ saga, it was heartbreaking. ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ already broke my heart, but this latest film shattered it into tiny little pieces and then was stomped to smaller pieces further by a freak called ‘Jar Jar Binks’. And then he pooped on it. It was that bad. And I’m still on anti-depressant pills to this day.

This film is in fact visually beautiful, skillfully crafted with sweeping landscapes and grand action sequences. But sadly, as usual with George Luca nowadays, tremendous effort has gone into the visual style of the film, but the story and acting quality is very obviously dreadful. I mean, what is wrong with George Lucas? His passion for ‘Star Wars’ is long gone and little time or care is given to the story, character development and dialogue. He is now making ‘Star Wars’ just for the sake of making it, not because he wanted it. His heart was never into ‘Star Wars’ since ‘The Return of the Jedi’ was completed. If George Lucas finds making a ‘Star Wars’ film too burdensome, then hand it over to someone more passionate about it for goodness sake. But no, he wants complete control of his baby, and look how it turned out. If Bill Gates was his son, he would still be living in his basement and there would no Microsoft…

In a nutshell, the dialogue is completely juvenile and fitting for an infant with an I.Q. of 0. (Seriously George, is this the demographic you are targeting at nowadays? Jeez). Silly nicknames are being thrown about like a boring weekday party, i.e. ‘Sky Guy’ and ‘Snips’. C’mon man, ‘SKY GUY’?? ‘SNIPS’?? Does ‘Snips’ refer to anything anatomical perhaps? God, let’s move on. The storyline is so overly simple, I wouldn’t even provide a brief description here or else I would have revealed the entire film to you. And the action sequences? I find it so ludicrous that all battles seem to take place head-on in a straight-line with all blasters blazing. It all provides sweet visual candy, but come on. It’s ‘Star Wars’ for goodness sake. There’s a host of new characters introduced here, again beautifully designed and animated, but their potential is depressingly under-utilized.
But let’s the fair here, the film is not without merit. The action sequences are immensely rich in detail, painfully designed to maximize visual eye candy that will at times leave you speechless. Being a ‘Star Wars’ fan, there was a few action sequences in there that did raise my ‘WOW’ bar a notch or so. Beautifully choreographed light-saber battles, very cool designs of new machines of war and very impressive additions of sound effects that are distinguising signatures of a ‘Star Wars’ film are all there to be admired. But that’s all there is to be admired really.

All in all, it is upsetting that I felt ‘Clone Wars’ was a bit of a snooze. Long gone are the days that ‘Star Wars’ was in its prime, and long-gone are the days that George Lucas ever cared. Take a rest, George. Hand it over to someone else that cares a bit more about this legacy. Give that person a chance, whoever it may be, and we then might actually see a ‘Star Wars’ film that once again matches the original in passion and quality.

Verdict: 4 / 10 (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

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