WALL·E (2008)
WALL·E (2008)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure and Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: June 27th, 2008 MPAA Rating: G

Director: Andrew Stanton Actors: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver

 


 

G

orgeous visuals, unmatched animation, and wondrously moving scenarios mask a relatively simple story of love – reminiscent of the very best of Charles Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Little dialogue is necessary to convey this universal theme, which is implanted into a prophetic, futuristic, sci-fi, family-oriented environment, unlike any before it. And, at the heart of it all, is one of the most memorable, touching, human (despite being an automaton) of characters to grace the screen in a long, long time.

The last functioning trash-compacting robot on Earth, WALL·E (voiced, as it were, by the inimitable Ben Burtt) leads a repetitive, solitary life in a world covered by massive mounds of toxic garbage – the ecologically devastating result of which forced mankind to leave its home planet several hundred years prior. WALL·E’s lonely life drastically changes when technologically advanced scout droid EVE (Elissa Knight) lands on Earth to search for new signs of life and bumps into the sole inhabitant. When her objective is inadvertently achieved, causing her to become automatically guided back into space (where surviving humans have taken up residence), WALL·E embarks on the adventure of a lifetime in an attempt to rescue his unlikely companion – with whom he has fallen in love.

With each film Pixar releases, the quality and realism of the animation appears to increase exponentially. Most notable here is the replacement of the animation staple of squash-and-stretch with genuine mechanical motions, allowing WALL·E’s movements to rival any found in the robotic, CG iterations of live-action counterparts. And yet, this has no impact on the characters’ ability to convey emotions, even without the anthropomorphization typically utilized for just such a property. It’s a true testament to the power of animation when a heartwarming love story can be told without the use of standard dialogue or even a full set of facial features. Both WALL·E and EVE effectively express love, fear, loneliness, surprise, anger, contempt, happiness, and a host of other emotions – and neither one has a mouth, nose, ears, or eyebrows.

The infinitely appealing character designs in Pixar’s latest are easily the film’s crowning achievement, with WALL·E himself a marvel in both mechanics and innovative imagery. But while the characters range from brilliant to truly inspired, the blend of realism with the purely fantastical produces an odd alternation in presentation. The intricate metallic creations do provide a considerable contrast with the humans, but the robots possess such a high level of actuality that the blobby people (when they finally appear) don’t seem fit to coexist. Add to this the actual scenes of human actors (from stock footage), and it feels like three different worlds have collided in the distant future.

In the end, with such monumental visuals and animation complementing a superbly paced, poignant romantic adventure, it’s easy to overlook minor faults scattered throughout the production. The lack of an impressionable villain and strong supporting characters might have hindered a lesser movie, but both WALL·E and EVE are so perfectly realized that one won’t likely notice the absence of equally engaging, supplementary creations. Pixar’s track record has been virtually flawless since its first feature and, with their remarkable attention to detail and consistent focus on storytelling, it’s easy to see why. “WALL·E” succeeds in setting an even higher bar, magnificently proving, even to children, that it doesn’t require copious amounts of dialogue to tell a great story – just like moviemakers did in the classic, silent era.

– The Massie Twins

  • 9/10