Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Review Round-Up II: "Wall-E", "Cloverfield"

Wall-E [director: Andrew Stanton; stars: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard] - I'd heard good things about Wall-E going into it, but was a little apprehensive having had my first experience of an average Disney Pixar film in Ratatouille, which I'd found, whilst being superbly animated, to be a little thin when it came to characterisation and storyline. Luckily, Wall-E didn't disappoint. In fact, dare I say it, Wall-E is the best Disney Pixar film to date. Everything about it works, and works incredibly well. The story is simple, but told with such warmth, humour and skill that it works fantastically. You will warm to the eponynous robot within the first five minutes and be rooting for him until the very end. The script is witty and never gets in the way of telling the story. The majority of the characters are allowed to develop beautifully through what they do rather than what they say - it is a testament to the director Andrew Stanton that the characters I felt the greatest attachment to by the end were the robots, not the humans. The animation, as you'd expect in a Disney Pixar film, is never less than excellent. I find it difficult to pick out any flaws in Wall-E, and am sure it will go down as a cinematic triumph.

[director: Matt Reeves; stars: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T. J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel] - I saw Cloverfield at the cinema and enjoyed it a lot, although after seeing it my thoughts were "That film will either not work at all on DVD, or work even better than it did on the cinema". Having watched it for a second time on DVD, I can confirm that the latter scenario is just about true. The film definitely doesn't lose anything anyway. The handheld camera style is less distracting on the small screen (I occasionally found it a little too much at the cinema) and the fact that the film is presented as a home video means it feels at home being watched on a TV or computer. I largely enjoyed Cloverfield more on a second viewing - the story felt like it hung together a little better, and some of the dialogue came across as more natural than I remembered it being. That said, the character of Rob is still a little too far-fetched for my liking, and Hud the cameraman is still a little annoying at times (although I noticed this less the second time). Overall, Cloverfield is a highly enjoyable and successful disaster movie. The chosen presentation style is definitely more than just a gimmick that wears off after one viewing.

DVD extras: I picked up the two-disc edition of Cloverfield to get the full range of extras not included in the single disc version. Having explored some of them (but not all), the extras are on the whole worthwhile, but there's nothing mind-blowing. They are fairly standard fare - deleted scenes, blooper reel, feature on the special effects, and so on. There are two alternate endings, one of which I felt wasn't worth showing, and the other I felt was incredibly similar to the film's actual ending. My opinion may change once I've had a chance to view them all, but the extras to my mind are fairly average.
Film: 8/10
DVD extras: 5/10

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