Dec 292008

After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, Wall-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when he meets a sleek search robot named Eve. Eve comes to realize that Wall-E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet’s future, and races back to space to report her findings to the humans (who have been eagerly awaiting word that it is safe to return home). Meanwhile, Wall-E chases Eve across the galaxy.

Genre: Animated, Sci-fi; Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.; Release Date: June 27th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: G

Starring: Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Garlin

Directed by: Andrew Stanton

We caught this on DVD a couple of weeks ago with Lay’s nephews.

It’s several hundred years into the future and grubby little Wall-E is the last remaining robot on Earth, programmed to collect garbage around the world. By now the Earth has become such an unliveable mass of scum and debris that the humans had vacated the planet long ago, shirking responsibility for the mess they made to live it large in space.

Wall.E’s only company is a little cockroach that follows him about, until one day a spaceship lands in his vicinity, bringing with it Eve, a high-tech, no-nonsense pod robot that has been programmed to search for traces of life on Earth. Wall-E spies on Eve, and he is in turns bewildered and bewitched by her, but the principle emotion he feels toward her is love. So much love, in fact, that when the spaceship comes back to take Eve back, he follows her onto the ship and it takes them to the mother ship where humans have relocated.

Wall-E lives a mundane existence forcing rubbish into cube after cube, which he piles together to make towers of rubbish, but he finds pleasures in the household items he encounters. Back in his “home” – an upturned schoolbus he resides in, he gathers together all the items he collects, and falls asleep to old movie musicals.

The romance that develops between Wall-E and Eve is actually believable. You get caught up in it. Though the film is about robots (humans don’t feature until the second half) and the only words exchanged by the two leads are each others’ names, this movie has a real soul and emotion. 

Beauty dominates practically every frame. The initial scenes of Wall-E capture the desolate, crumbling state of Earth, but Pixar has found loveliness even amongst the garbage. This is Pixar’s most ambitious movie to date, and the landscapes and details are appropriately cinematic.  Another filmmaker who helped make The Shawshank Redemption the masterpiece that it was, Thomas Newman, composer of the soundtrack for Finding Nemo, wrote a spot-on score for this movie that set the perfect mood.

My only qualm with Wall-E is that there isn’t enough humour in the movie. In a way, this is Pixar’s darkest movie to date; with its messages about society’s need to wake up to the problem of global pollution, commercialism, mass obesity and whatnot. The cheeky filmmakers even managed to slip in their own message to Disney; when the president in the old clip says “stay in the course.” But all this means that, whilst there’s the odd visual gag or two, Wall-E is not really all that funny, with no real belly laugh moments.

Wall-E gets a very definite thumbs up from me. The animation is flawless, the entertainment is excellent, and the denouement shows that it’s not too late; redemption is still available and we can still save the world if we really want to.

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