Saturday, June 28, 2008
This movie is a love story. Wall*E is the last functioning trash compactor robot on Earth, and over the years he's grown a little sentimental, collecting all sorts of treasures, including a VHS copy of "Hello, Dolly," which he watches endlessly. When a robot probe comes to Earth, all sleek and sexy, Wall*E is smitten. It's probably the most poignant and endearing love story on the big screen this year.
What's amazing about that is that the two lovers are robots and their verbal communication amounts to little more than saying each other's names. Everything else comes across through "eye" movement and body language (that last is made all the more spectacular by the fact that neither robot ever looks or moves like a human being).
Wall*E is also pretty good science fiction (as far as it goes, anyway; it doesn't try to be very deep). Humanity has taken to the stars, leaving Earth behind. This is because rampant consumerism, with it's resulting trash, has rendered Earth uninhabitable. They now live on a huge luxury cruise liner floating is space where their every desire is catered to by an army of robots.
For those worried about the environmentalism message here, don't be. It's never strident or preachy. The filmmakers stay away from politics. The message is one of being responsible. Does anyone really disagree with that?
There is also a cautionary message about idleness. The humans have given up doing anything for themselves. As a result they are all blobs and, due to their sedentary lifestyles and living in a lower gravity environment, their bone structure is atrophied. These people have no control and no meaning to their lives. They are basically herded about by advertisements and habit, not even noticing their surroundings. If they fall out of their hoverchairs they are helpless.
The animation is sumptuous. The "acting" of the principle robots, Wall*E and EVE, is sublime. Every frame is a testament to Pixar's attention to detail and love of storytelling.
Our experience in seeing the film was somewhat blunted by the fact that we had to deal with an incorrigibly restless little boy, so much of the last act was seen over shoulders in the entryway and barely heard over whining and crying. We'll have to see it again, sans infant, to truly appreciate it, I suppose.
Even so, I can safely say that it is in upper end of Pixar quality, which means that it is light years beyond whatever any other animation studio is doing.