Monday, June 30, 2008
I repeat: Woohoo!
(Source: The Associated Press)
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The thrilling soundtrack is currently the 10th most popular album in the U.S. store and 2nd most popular of the soundtrack genre, being beat there only by another Walt Disney Records release, the soundtrack to Camp Rock, a recently released Disney Channel TV movie.
All the marketing seems to be paying off...
Woohoo! There's still some sense left in the world!
Still, WALL-E could not beat The Incredibles' spectacular opening weekend record of 70.5 million dollars, although, as reported yesterday, it did beat that film's record for best opening day.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
It's actually quite interesting to learn how the different sounds heard are created...
The film is now on its way to challenge The Incredibles' opening weekend record of $70.5 million, which is, to date, Pixar's best opening weekend success.
(Sources: Variety and The Hollywood Reporter)
Note: This post (including headline) has been edited to correct two noteworthy errors found in the original version. The previous best opening day and best opening weekend records for a Pixar film were not set by Finding Nemo, as the post originally read, but were set by The Incredibles, as the post now reads. Thanks to reader Adam for pointing out my mistakes.
Friday, June 27, 2008
For the piece, Lasky and MacLane talked to the magazine's Bill Desowitz about a variety of technical subjects, explaining all the work it took to make every scene in WALL-E look just right.
Read it here.
Always glad to read some talk from Stanton, but man, how many interviews did the poor guy have to sit through?
- Peter Sciretta/Slashfilm (/Film)
- Bob Mondello/National Public Radio (NPR)
- Joe Neumaier/New York Daily News
- Peter Howell/Toronto Star
- Ty Burr/Boston Globe
- Michael Sragow/Baltimore Sun
- Carla Meyer/Sacramento Bee
- Rene Rodriguez/Miami Herald
WALL-E continues to be at 97% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, with dozens more reviews having been added. The positive to negative score is now at 121 positive reviews to 4 negative. In the Top Critics section, the film has dropped from its previous rating of 100% Fresh to 97% Fresh due to a single unintelligent review (out 32) written by a critic from Salon.com (no link included so as not to raise page rank of said piece).
Some very good news...
(via Upcoming Pixar)
My review of the film follows. Just for kicks, I’ve written it in what I now believe to be an amateurish imitation of a formal movie critic tone. The message is simple, though: WALL-E is a spectacular motion picture, go watch it right now, and congratulations in advance to Andrew Stanton and everyone at Pixar for the Oscars (and many nominations) they’re gonna pick up come February.
Here we go…
There have always been grand, ominous scenes in animation —scenes like Pinocchio discovering Pleasure Island or Belle searching for her father, finding instead the Beast's castle. In this tradition are the opening scenes of WALL-E, where, after listening to the cheerful tunes of “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, the audience finds itself in a rusted world of decay, with music to match. Everything is abandoned, nobody’s around, and few things seem identifiable through the cloud of dust that pervades the atmosphere. So begins the best film you’ll see this year.
WALL-E is an amazing piece of art. Pixar’s most mature and compelling picture yet, it captures the essence of good filmmaking, and more broadly, storytelling. It makes you forget that you’re watching a “cartoon”, or a movie of any kind, for that matter, and instead grabs your attention as long as it plays. It’s emotional, moving; it’s funny; it’s exciting. A classic, it puts Finding Nemo to shame. WALL-E, the film’s eponymous star, is, as you may have already suspected, a character so endearing that words fail me.
The best aspects of the film are found where many would least expect them. The “silence” really is ‘golden’, and the apparent “mistakes” are what make the movie work.
To illustrate: WALL-E’s robotfriend EVE is not a ‘loveable’ character, even after she does learn to love. She’s not ‘cute’, she’s cold, and occasionally more than a little mean. But WALL-E loves her, and so you end up wanting to know more about her too. You actually want to see more of her character. As for the romance between her and WALL-E, it just works. There’s this scene where —well, let’s just call it a robotic version of Sleeping Beauty. To see WALL-E’s love and caring for EVE just in that one scene alone made me say to myself, “If this doesn’t warm the hearts of those (insert swear word)s at the Academy, nothing will.”
But WALL-E is not merely a love story —it is a breathtaking, modern epic, a rarity in today’s indie-obsessed Hollywood. Not since Forrest Gump has a film blended comedy, action, romance, and drama so well, and not since Star Wars has a film taken the cinematography of space to such a level. Once again: A work of art.
Mr. Stanton, WALL-E crew: Put on your Sunday clothes, you’re going to the Oscars.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
- A.O. Scott/The New York Times
- Joe Morgenstern/Wall Street Journal
- John Anderson/Washington Post
- Kenneth Turan/Los Angeles Times
- Mick LaSalle/San Francisco Chronicle
- Katherine Monk/National Post ('Best movie of the decade?')
- Owen Gleiberman/Entertainment Weekly
- Todd Gilchrist/IGN.com
- Alex Billington/FirstShowing.net
WALL-E has dropped only one percentage point to 97% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes since the last update, despite scores of new reviews being added to and counted by the site. The positive to negative score is at 68 positive reviews to 2 negative. Among top critics, the film is still at 100% Fresh.
The sound is not of good quality on both (low volume plus poor mix), but these are still must watch videos.
Founders Ken Bautista and Chad Kerychuk have posted a very nice letter to readers on the site alerting them to the fact, and explaining the reasons why.
I'd like to thank them both for directing their readers to this site (among others) and for their trailblazing in the field of Pixar news blogging, and I hope to see Luxo's excellent archives up again soon.
- Lou Lumenick/New York Post
- Claudia Puig/USA Today
- Michael Phillips/Chicago Tribune
- Roger Moore/Orlando Sentinel
- Rafer Guzman/Newsday
- Christy Lemire/Associated Press
- Todd McCarthy/Variety
- Kirk Honeycutt/Hollywood Reporter
WALL-E has now achieved a 98% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. At time of writing, there is literally only one dissenter (a virtual unknown) among the dozens of critics who thoroughly enjoyed the film. In fact, among top critics, the film is at 100% Fresh.
Surprising? Not if you've seen the film.
So the buzz begins! Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!
Realistically, though, the Academy does seriously has a bias against animated films being nominated for Best Picture. Remember last year, with Ratatouille?
Still, it is virtually guaranteed that WALL-E is going to get nominated several times in other categories, winning in at least two or three.
*The nominations will be announced on January 22, 2009. The 81st annual Academy Awards presentation will be telecast on Sunday, February 22.
Add to this the threat of global warming, and the species may have to be officially listed as endangered, suggest several marine biologists who spoke to The Times of London.
Something really must be done about this. It's like the entire world is acting like "Darla".
(Remember: My review will be out at midnight tonight.)
Ebert writes glowingly, calling WALL-E "an enthralling animated film" and a "visual wonderment". He also takes a dig at Crapworks, pardon me, DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda, which came out recently: "[WALL-E] involves ideas, not simply mindless scenarios involving characters karate-kicking each other into high-angle shots."
Well said, man, well said.
Read the complete review at RogerEbert.com.
What seems like every possible WALL-E-related topic is discussed in the 4000-word long question and answer piece, which also features talk about a lot of other subjects, including Stanton's work on John Carter of Mars.
Note: The interview contains what some may refer to as "spoilers".
(via Upcoming Pixar)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Once more, not a lot of new stuff for most, but the video does contain some short dialogue with Andrew Stanton as well as cast members Jeff Garlin, Sigourney Weaver, and Fred Willard. Also, very well edited.
Both critics gave the film a firm "See It" rating, with Roeper saying "This is one of the best movies of the year."
Watch their comments here.
Also in reviews news, Upcoming Pixar points to RottenTomatoes.com, where the site's "Tomatometer*" for WALL-E is now active, with a rating of 83% Fresh, based on the reviews of eight approved critics (all but one of which are fairly low profile). The ratio for the film is currently 7 positive reviews to 1 negative.
A plethora of additional reviews should appear on RT within the next 48 hours; doubtlessly, most will be positive.
*According to RT, "The Tomatometer measures the percentage of positive reviews... for a certain movie.
Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter spoke to MTV News about the concern saying, in part: "Well, you know, his character is coming back. He’s a good friend of mine, and so we’re just waiting to see."
In related news, Lasseter had a few words for those doubtful about the sequel, which will arrive in theatres in the summer of 2012. "Toy Story 2," he says. "...It’s the same thing with Cars 2. We've come up with a great, great story line."
The WALL-E soundtrack currently has top billing on the home screen of the U.S. iTunes Store, and was the featured album in this week's iTunes New Music Tuesday email newsletter (pictured, cropped).
WALL-E: The Video Game is also receiving a lot of attention, being the subject of a expansive feature at the Apple.com Games pages, which highlights games that are available for the Mac OS.
If you look closely in WALL-E's truck you can spot an accordion with the name Fucile on it; surely a reference to Pixar artist Tony Fucile, who's worked at the company in a variety of roles, including supervising animator and character designer.
Many thanks to reader Andie T. for pointing out the site.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In the Q&A, Morris discusses how he first came on board the WALL-E project, Pixar's production pipeline, as well as several other topics.
For those not too familiar with Morris, he joined Pixar in 2005 after a lengthy stint at Lucasfilm's Lucas Digital group, where he managed both Skywalker Sound and legendary visual effects house Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
As expected, it's a thrill to listen to. What struck me, though, is the 'wrapping'. Everything is put together very well. The recycled cardboard packaging, which is environmentally friendly, actually looks much better than you'd think it would. Quite smart, actually.
Also of note, the print on the actual CD is unbelievably well designed. Very Apple-ish. Perhaps Jony Ive had something to do with it?
"I've been an actor/comedian/writer for 26 years. Pixar works on their stories harder than any other place I've been around. Pixar will not move forward unless they have the story right. They have great constructive criticism amongst each other. Lastly, they're really kind to one another. I've seen an instance of utopia. They have their own utopia. They really do."
As it turns out, Hamm the piggy bank will be "a villain in the beginning of the movie,” according to Ratzenberger, later on, however, as the story progresses, he becomes a "superhero".
When it comes to Mrs. Potato Head, we'll be seeing a lot more of her in the film, which will be released to theatres in June 2010. Says Harris: "I have a much bigger part."
Finally, we learn that Andrew Stanton –you know, that guy who wrote and directed WALL-E and Finding Nemo– "did some script work on the film last year".
Very exciting developments...
Update: The MTV Movies Blog also spoke to Stanton about his challenge in adapting John Carter of Mars for the screen. Read his comments here. (Updated at 4:26 PM)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Here are some links to a few recent items, listed in no particlular order:
- "Silents are golden to creator of 'WALL-E'"/Baltimore Sun
- "WALL-E World"/The Boston Globe
- "WALL-E is the latest in long line of compelling Pixar characters"/San Jose Mercury News
- "Last robot standing"/San Jose Mercury News
- "'Wall-E' is a real character"/New York Daily News
- "Pixar's risky robot"/Chicago Tribune
- "Pixar tries to keep hits coming with 'Wall-E'"/Chicago Sun-Times
And go here for a particularly smart interview with Andrew Stanton.
Now, where can I get one of those shirts (the one Lasseter is wearing)? Seriously, I would wear that to a job interview, or a wedding. It's that cool.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The article can be found online here.
While Stanton has spoken on the topic before, this appears to be the closest thing (for now) to a confirmation that his next project, John Carter of Mars, will be live-action, as has been hinted at before.
Does this mean that he will be leaving Pixar? "I'm not leaving Pixar until I am the last person standing", he says, having earlier mentioned that when he arrived there were less than ten employees.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The unconfirmed tip came from a Pixar Planet member who claims to be part of the WALL-E orchestra team, which is said to have just recently finished recording the music of BURN-E.
As can be expected, no details are yet available on the short, except that it will (duh!) follow a robot named BURN-E. However, speaking earlier this week with Peter Sciretta of /Film, Andrew Stanton did say that the WALL-E DVD short would indeed have a sci-fi theme and be "very connected" to WALL-E's story.
I will be seeking comment from Pixar Publicity on this story as soon as possible. Stay tuned...
(Note that the logo shown is only a mock-up, created by Upcoming Pixar.)
Update: Confirmed! (Updated on July 28)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
While the video plays almost like a one minute-long television spot, it is notable for its focus on the action-filled parts of the movie, and for the several seconds worth of new scenes it contains, including a brief glimpse of WALL-A (Waste Allocation Load Lifter -Axiom class).
The text below (not including headings, which highlight the topic being discussed) is comprised entirely of direct quotes from Stanton. As used in the transcript, ellipses (...) signify unclear speech and/or editing for space.
On live action filmmaking
“When I worked with Fred Willard, and a couple of the extras for that commercial bit, I definitely got the bug. But I have a feeling I was seduced simply because it was –we shot it and finished in the same day. I was like, ‘Wow! That’s amazing!’ Because everything we do takes weeks and months. Spontaneity has nothing to do with animation. This is just spontaneity. So that was interesting.
On getting back on the right track while making the movie
“You surround yourself with really, really talented, really smart people who have the guts to say you’re wrong, and also have the guts to say you’re right even when everybody else thinks that you’re wrong. You surround yourself with people that you creatively trust.
I was fortunate enough to have a lot of guys and gals who were willing to try a lot of bad ideas with me, you know?
On whether WALL-E will be the last idea produced from the famous 1994 lunch
“Well, we didn’t have fully-formed ideas. So, to be honest, yeah. But there were many lunches and breakfasts and dinners ever since then, believe me.”
First, he mentions that Mark Andrews, who directed Pixar's short One Man Band, is working on the story with him. Stanton goes on to explain that they're starting by adapting the first book in the John Carter series, A Princess of Mars. No surprise there.
But now comes the big question: Will it be live action? "We honestly don't know," says Stanton, but "it's clearly got to be a hybrid of some sort." So that probably means something along the lines of Brad Bird's 1906, which is going to feature a blend of CG and live action.
Concluding that part of the conversation, Stanton commented that he's not concerned about the more intense themes contained in the novels, such as the violence. "We'll find the proper venue to put the movie out," he says. Possibly a clue that the film won't be branded as Disney•Pixar. (A PG-13-rated Walt Disney Pictures release sounds far more likely, with Pixar providing the CGI.)
Your thoughts on all this?
Update: Stanton also spoke about John Carter to /Film's Peter Sciretta, who has posted the additional dialogue here.
(Updated at 4:03 PM)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
For example, says MacLane: "Anytime [WALL-E is] around EVE, we put the shoulders low and the hands close to the chest, which made him much more unsure and nervous looking."
Read the complete article here.
(via Upcoming Pixar)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Among a variety of topics, discussed will be a review of basic computer animation rules, staging and pose design, as well as advanced animation techniques.
More info on the workshop, which is aimed at professionals and students alike, is available here.
First, I finally got around to putting together a fancier design for the title. Just hope I don't get in trouble for using the same typeface as the Pixar logo –Charlemagne Standard Bold (which, by the way, can be purchased from the Adobe Font Store).
Secondly, the site now features a short explainer about what The Pixar Blog is all about. With so many new readers, that seems like a good idea.
Lastly, for sure you've noticed that WALL-E is now pictured with Luxo Jr. on the upper right hand side of the screen. That's only temporary (from now till the movie is released) but quite fun, eh?
A lot of Pixar-related talk in both. Plus, you get to watch Toy Story Mania! in action, including Lasseter playing the midway-style game.
Watch the videos online here and here, at CNBC.com.
Nothing really new, except for a clue about one of the characters...
Monday, June 16, 2008
Pictured are producer Jim Morris, Andrew Stanton, composer Thomas Newman, sound designer Ben Burtt, and Sigourney Weaver, who voices the ship computer in WALL-E.
(All photographs are ©Disney/Pixar)
As the screening he attended is "embargoed", like the one I went to on June 5, Knowles discusses the film in a bit of a tongue-in-cheek style (e.g. "I can't tell you about...").
He writes about WALL-E:
"arguably the best film Walt Disney has ever had its name on".
"one of the absolute best hard science fiction films made in my adult life".
"I wouldn't say Pixar has done it again, because honestly, they've never ever made a film this great before... This single handedly made me forget every other film I've seen this year."
Well, you know what? I hope this doesn't constitute a breaking of the embargo I'm under, but even if it does, I don't care: I can't stand by and not agree. In fact, I've had it with the freaking embargo! WALL-E was amazing. You hear me, people? WALL-E WAS AMAZING!
Just how amazing? Wait for my review, due out June 27 at precisely 12:00 AM ET.
Zazzle, of course, also hosts the Buy N Large Store, which offers a variety of BNL-branded items. (Include me among those who spent way too much money there.)