Wall·E
Director: Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life)
Writer: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Jim Morris
Starring: Ben Burtt (voice), Elissa Knight (voice), Jeff Garlin (voice), Fred Willard
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 103 min
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
      Wall·E seems to be the darling of the year for the critics and recent fan ravings alike. While I've got to admit that the Pixar studio just seems to never do anything wrong, it does seem like, in this critic's eyes anyway, that they certainly do seem to be slipping a bit at what they do best: bringing us into the unknown, lively world of the normally inanimate or fantasy beings. Instead, while the center of the movie might focus on a talking animal or the like, the meat of the story is really wrapped within the human realm. This is what disappoints me about Wall·E; even though it is quite an enjoyable ride and stunning to look at.

      700 years in the future, Earth is completely devoid of any hint of human life. All that remains is a young trash cleaning robot named Wall·E. Wall·E goes about his daily duties as though nothing is wrong; and while he seems to enjoy his "life", he feels lonely without a companion. One day a recon droid shows up from outer space and turns Wall·E's life upside down. He finally has a friend... or does he? This new accquaintance brings Wall·E on the adventure he never knew he could have. An adventure that could actually end up saving the world... even if this isn't Wall·E's intention or even aware of this fact.

      With Pixar it's no question anymore that the film will look absolutely gorgeous. From the stunning landscapes of Cars and the exquisite detail in Ratatouille to the barren wasteland of future earth and the new frontier Wall·E finds himself in, the film almost needs no story or sound. It's honestly worth the ten bucks alone to sit and be mesmerized by the sparkle on screen for 100 minutes.

      Along with the look come the details. Nothing has been overlooked and each imperfection in the little robot's surface, each stream of light and each grain of sand can be seen in vivid detail and it's just amazing what these animators are able to accomplish. Even if it did take several years to complete.

      The one thing everyone will say about Wall·E is just how darn cute he is. At first glance one might say that he looks just like Johnny-5 from the Short Circuit franchise of the mid-80's... and he does; but without the vocabulary. Wall·E even has the same curiosity/inquisitiveness of J-5 - along with his courage and determination as well. It's uncanny and one can't help but think intentional. But J-5 quickly escapes the mind as Wall·E takes on a life and struggle all his own. And no puppy in the world can match Wall·E's "awwww" factor.

      Another part of Wall·E's charm is the lack of dialogue and language. With only a series of cute sounds and the ability to pronounce his name, Wall·E goes on about his life without a word. When another robot shows up with an almost equally small vocabulary, it is quite amazing to watch the emotion these film maker's are able to get Wall·E and "Eve" to exhibit. A thousand ideas and feelings are conveyed without a word.

      The message in Wall·E is clear enough and quite relevant and important. The environmental factor is easy enough to get and a nice message to impart on young children. It's conveyed effectively and gloriously.. until the second half of the film. My smile for this film turned to a frown almost immediately as at one point in the film Wall·E rounds a corner to find himself in the heart of humanity. From that moment on the movie and story take a massive turn for the worst. All of a sudden there's dialogue, uninteresting characters interacting with one another and the usual Disney cliche bombs dropped all over the place. Not mention the environmental message, which we already got clearly, is now pounded over your head as if Al Gore somehow got hold of the reins.

      While Wall·E does seem to have a heart and charm of it's own, the homages and "borrowings" from a lot of films are easily identifiable and prevalent. Mike Judge's Idiocracy immediately springs to mind as does a bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the classic, E.T. Several more references are discernible and I'll let you find them on your own Mr. Chaplin.

      I have to admit enjoying Wall·E for what it is and really enjoying the first fifty minutes or so. The sound design (from Star Wars genius Ben Burtt) and visuals alone were enough to make it worth it; but that's probably not enough to get me to sit through it again. A world of just robots would have suited this film nicely. Alas, the creators did not see it this way, nor do most other reviews I have read. There must be something obviously wrong with me, but I'd say this is my least favorite Pixar movie to date (next to A Bug's Life). But for what it's worth a Pixar movie at the bottom of the pile is a better film than 90% of movies ever made. So go see this one and take the whole family. Chances are you're going to love it.
     


Click "play" to see the trailer HD (might take a bit to load):


Links:
IMDb profile
Official Site
Flixster Profile for Wall·E


 





andrew@moviepatron.com