Moviola: WALL*E vs. Hellboy

1. Happy Bastille Day.

2. WALL*E is (in my son’s words) “as good as Wanted was bad.” I liked the sparing touch with exposition, the soaring visuals, the courageous decency of most of the characters (and the plausible self-interest of the villains). Then there were the sneaky references: “The Blue Danube” and “Also Sprach Zarathustra” appear in the soundtrack at appropriate moments; WALL*E’s pseudo-relationship with the dormant Eve is Pygmalion-in-a-garbage-dump; the movie’s credits cunningly recapitulate the history of human art. But all those are just decorations: the story works, the characters are as dynamic as one can expect from a cartoon, the animation is beautiful. WALL*E is another one of those classics from Pixar which justify the existence of animated movies.

3. Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Eh. Wonderful integration of CGI with non-CGI, and wonderful visuals in general, not just on technical grounds. Some decent humor (although, as Nathan Long notes, a little too much straining for it). Some really good fighting scenes, particularly with the evil (but not unsympathetic) elvish prince. (I kept wishing that this were a movie about Moorcock’s Elric: del Toro has the horror/fantasy chops to pull off a screen adaptation of the White Wolf.) But my biggest problem was the plodding plot. It was perfectly self-evident from around minute 15 exactly how the antagonist would be defeated and by whom. The rest of the movie is a series of more or less sparkly beads strung on this all-too-straight thread.

There were some genuinely magical moments, as with the burst of glorious green life which followed the death of the plant “elemental.” It suggested a level of meaning which nobody talked about directly. That was cool.

Worth seeing in the theater for the spectacle. Did not leave me wishing for Hellboy III: Blood from a Stone, or whatever it’ll be called.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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2 Responses to Moviola: WALL*E vs. Hellboy

  1. Anonymous says:

    You’re dead on with Hellboy II. The first one disappointed me because I let my expectations get to high, so naturally I let my expectations get to high on this one, too. In my defense: Guillermo del Toro. (Kinda wondering what strange critters are going to show up in The Hobbit.)

    Do you recommend seeing Wall*E on the big screen, or would it be okay to wait for the DVD?

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      Thanks–I had no expectations for the first Hellboy maybe that’s why I liked it better. A friend of mine says I should track down the graphic novels, but I haven’t yet.

      WALL*E was pretty cool in the theater. There are some big landscapes, and 2001-like starscapes that might lose some impact on the small screen. Still, the main event in this one isn’t the spectacle; I think most of it would come through on a TV screen. (I realize this amounts to saying yes and no.)

      [edited for format]

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