WALL-E Movie Review
One of the best reviewed movies of the year is, no surprise, Pixar's Wall-E, a movie that has been buzzing since the first, dialogue-free teaser trailer hit theaters a summer ago with Pixar's last masterpiece, Ratatouille. As good as Ratatouille was, it feels like an appetizer compared to Wall-E, which is as close to a masterpiece as movies can be. It fires on all cylinders and rarely, if ever, misfires.
Wall-E continues the near-perfect streak of the company-not-to-be-outdone, Pixar, as they continue to buck the trend that other animated production houses take. Whereas DreamWorks and Fox and any other company that does animated films tend to play as modern satires and spoofs, with timely jokes and music, Pixar continues to amaze with fully realized characters, visuals and story. Pixar films are becoming increasingly daring and ambitious, and Wall-E, by far, is their crowning achievement.
Whereas most animated films will be crammed with the voices of well known actors to pull in box office dollars, Pixar has gone the unconventional route of removing almost all dialogue from the entire picture. The two main characters, both robots, say twenty words between them; the main character says two or three at most. It's a risky move, as, after all, Pixar is making a movie for children. Or are they? When one thinks about it, Pixar has transcended the level of cartoon or kid's flick. Pixar is the one animated brand that all but guarantees widespread appeal and general audience attention. Most animated movies, even box office successes like Kung Fu Panda, do not automatically appeal to older audiences, and as such, DreamWorks and the rest have to make movies with the easy laughs. Pixar is guaranteed a lot of box office, and thus they have the ability to experiment.
Experiment they do. Wall-E takes place on Earth 800 years in the future. There are no humans left; in fact, the only form of life is a single cockroach. New York and the rest of the world are piled high with skyscraper-sized garbage heaps, created by the Wall-E robots left behind to clean up humanity's mess. The mess, created by megastores and consumerism, has caused humans to go on a five-year journey - going on 700 years - through space. Aside from the cockroach, all that's left is a single, lonely robot, who goes about his day doing his job and curiously examining the garbage he is designed to cleanup. When a spaceship lands and a new, shiny white female robot named Eve emerges to search for any sign of life, though, Wall-E falls in love. His curiosity and devotion lead him to follow Eve into space, and with him could come humanity's salvation.
Yes, it doesn't sound like a kid's movie. And in many ways it's not, except that it contains no objectionable material and is highly enjoyable in every single way. Wall-E does carry a heavy environmental message, but it's never in your face to where it becomes distracting. Written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the director of the Toy Story movies and Finding Nemo, among others, Wall-E is flawless in design, execution and story. Nothing is said for the first half hour of the movie, yet Stanton keeps you engaged, intrigued and entertained. Wall-E is funny, but in a simple, realistic way. Wall-E is like a curious dog, and humor comes from the same things that you would laugh about when watching your pet explore a new yard. Anything and everything can be fascinating to him, and he acts like a sad, lonely but determined puppy.
Beyond the writing, though, the visual effects and direction are absolutely amazing. The visuals, some of the best on the market today, continue the almost-realistic visuals seen in Ratatouille. The first half hour is especially mesmerizing as Stanton and his visual effects time show us a world that is stunningly detailed. The visuals deserve an Oscar, and if not for the stigma against animated films, I could see a Best Director nod in favor of Stanton.
Wall-E is quite possibly the best animated movie ever created, and beyond that, it is a funny, cute, romantic and heartwarming tale. It is, simply, a masterpiece.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.