Thursday, July 03, 2008

Movie Review: WALL-E

WALL-E is Pixar's latest animated film. I saw this movie knowing very little about it and working on the premise that Pixar does not do a bad film. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this movie was, even by Pixar standards.

First, WALL-E does not follow the standard animated movie plot. You know, hero is kind of a jerk, finds a group of friends, gains acceptance, royally messes things up, makes things right and saves the day, then lives happily ever after. WALL-E's plot is hard to sum up in a few sentences, and the whole thing is done with very little dialog.

The basic plot is that all of the humans have left earth because of all of the pollution. The humans were supposed to have been gone for 5 years to allow the WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class) units to clean up the mess. The humans never returned and the WALL-E units continued to work until they finally break down.

Our hero is the last remaining WALL-E unit and survives by scavenging spare parts from other broken down units. He continues to dutifully do his job cleaning up the garbage while collecting small treasures along the way. By picking through the trash, WALL-E gains the humanity that humans have discarded.

WALL-E himself looks like the love child of ET and Johnny 5. The Movie focuses on his fascination with the world. Throughout the first half of the film he collects treasures from the piles of junk. It's hard not to see the world through his very expressive eyes. He is the most lovable trash compacter that you will ever meet.

This is Pixar's darkest film. It's ominous without being overly scarey for the kids. It's hard to miss the enviromental message and the modern human, or at least American, life style is called in to question. There is also the threat of relying to heavily on technology that is implied in many sci-fi tales.

Like all Pixar films, there are some great little touches that you had to be looking for. WALL-E boots up every morning to the chime of a Mac. EVE is modeled after an I-pod. And the Auto Pilot is an obvious homage to Hal, complete with the 2001 overture during one scene.

All of this is wrapped up in a beautiful film. You would expect nothing else from a Pixar film. The animation is gorgeous. The musical score is fitting. But the amazing thing is that there is very little dialog throughout the moving. Everything is conveyed through expression and gesture, and it is utterly amazing how much is able to be conveyed in this way.

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