Pity the professional movie reviewer. Gene Siskel used to introduce his and Ebert's year-end list of ten worst movies by saying each of these stinkers took two hours away from their lives — two hours they would never get back. They would follow this up with a rueful chuckle then get to the business of roasting green weenies, which was usually more fun to watch than their ten best.
Ah, but critics live for those ten best and worst movies. It's the mediocre ones that take the toll — the movies that show charm, or potential, before succumbing to the banal. Hence, after Indiana Jones, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and now Hellboy, we get this summer's critical cri de couer: CGI death-matches lack the gravity and drama of physically co-ordinated stunt-work.
Oh really? Then why does the first candidate for this summer's best movie feature a little robot who gets the gears beat out of him — in state-of-the-art CGI? I'm hoping the folks at Marvel and DC and every major studio are taking notes on how this works, because it's not as if the narrative thread to WALL·E reinvents the wheel. Andrew Stanton's tight screenplay and exquisite direction are the very embodiment of what kicks Robert McKee into arm-waving, let's-give-a-cheer mode.
Just about everyone is moving WALL·E to the top of their list this year. For my critical money I think David Edelstein (once again) best sums up why this is. In Pixar we have one of the few technology-based industries sifting through things in an effort to recover our disappearing soul.