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Reel Critics:

‘Wanted’: action, bullets. Not wanted: a cerebral flick

July 02, 2008|By SUSANNE PEREZ

If you buy a ticket to “Wanted,” plan to give your brain the afternoon off. Based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, it’s long on violence and short on sense.

Wesley (“Atonement’s” James McAvoy) is a super-nervous office clerk who suddenly learns his father was a super-assassin working for the super-secret Fraternity.

Founded hundreds of years ago, the Fraternity was started by monks who got the urge to weave folks’ names into a “hit list” on a magic loom. Nobody knows why they’re on the list; they just need killin’. Who knew textiles could be so ominous?

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Now headed up by Sloan (a very bored Morgan Freeman), the organization wants to recruit Wesley. Wesley’s training takes a gruesome, tough love approach — he’s badly hurt in these sessions, but a quick soak in what looks like a tub of vanilla icing heals all wounds nicely.

Chief trainer and role model is sultry Angelina Jolie, aptly named Fox, whose primary job is to smirk in high heels, fire automatic weapons and light hundreds of candles around the tub.

She plants a big kiss on Wesley, and the effect is immediate: He becomes Rocky Balboa — he’s a wrecking machine, he’s supernatural. Now he can bend bullets like Beckham and look as cool as Posh Spice — just in time for a sequel.

Digital animation worth 1,000 words in ‘WALL-E’

Disney and Pixar combined forces to produce another revolutionary animated feature.

“Wall-E” is the groundbreaking story of a trash-compacting robot looking for friendship on a desolate earth 700 years in the future. Along the way, this unlikely hero mirrors many aspects of human behavior and longing.

The stunning first half hour is all visual with subtle sound effects.

The entire premise of the story is set up without any words being spoken. And yet the audience of mostly young children at my screening seemed captivated by the wordless story unfolding on the screen.

With humor and insight, the current fate of the human race is slowly revealed.

They left their failing planet to live aboard a giant space cruise ship until the Earth can heal itself. Fast food and inactivity turned everyone on board into a fat couch potato.

They send a robot probe with female overtones to Earth to check out the scene. When WALL-E and EVE find each other, magic ensues.

The plot deftly weaves in concerns about the power of big corporations and our disposable society.

But many kid-friendly elements abound as homage is paid to “Star Wars,” “2001” and “E.T.”

It’s a very thoughtful entry in this summer’s family movie sweepstakes.


JOHN DEPKO is a Costa Mesa resident and a senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.

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