Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin
Plot: In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Family
Awards: Won 1 Oscar - Best Animated Feature. Nom. for 5 Oscars - Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing.org.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
Andrew Stanton's previous Pixar feature was about a timid father clownfish's quest to find his lost son in the Academy Award winning animated film Finding Nemo. At that time, Finding Nemo epitomized what Pixar was all about. Lush, highly-detailed visuals enhanced with a multitude of strong crayon colors, a heartwarming story of substance and value, and characters that enthralled us like never before.
Pixar's newest kid on the block is now Wall-E, a trash compactor working in a post-apocalyptic Earth that is covered with whirlwinds of dust and mountains after mountains of rubbish. The humans have left Earth centuries ago, seeking refuge aboard a large spacecraft that hovers somewhere in space. Wall-E and his pet cockroach live lonely days, lonely nights, year after year, centuries after centuries, unaware that something extraordinary is about to happen
Written and directed by Stanton, Wall-E is arguably the best Pixar feature since Brad Bird's wacky action-adventure The Incredibles in 2004. Wall-E took four years to make and the results are phenomenal. The standards of animation technology have been on the rise, but Pixar is the undisputed leading practitioner of its art. Wall-E features groundbreaking animation that dwarfs all previous efforts by Pixar, including Ratatouille which is said to be the pinnacle of digital animation.
Wall-E also sees the use of real footages of clips from the 1969 musical Hello Dolly!, something that has never been done before in the genre. Furthermore, the film starts out in a somber tone with hues of the colour brown and old, depressing French songs by Edif Piaf, a stunning diversion from the usual uplifting songs and bright colours that don nearly every animated picture.
Wall-E's screenplay is a wholly original love story between Wall-E and his squeeze, Eve. At the same time, it brilliantly reflects social and environmental issues that are often turned a blind eye to. Stanton's film is like An Inconvenient Truth and Super Size Me put together and played to the tune of a sci-fi love story that even mature adults can enjoy.
Wall-E clocks two minutes shy of a hundred yet nearly half of the film has little or no dialogue. Stanton's skill in creating realistic emotions through the eyes of the main characters is astounding. Wall-E and Eve are easily the most lovable and identifiable on-screen couple in recent years. They communicate through weird electronic sounds and exaggerated body movements, yet the chemistry between them is wonderfully developed through subtle ways such as Wall-E's mispronunciation of Eve's name as "Evaaa!".
Stanton's picture is greatly influenced by films such as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Spielberg's E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, and Cameron's Aliens. Even the wordless humor in Wall-E owes a debt to the silent films of Chaplin.
Man's over-reliance on technology, his selfish treatment of his own environment, and his indulgence in materialistic desires are sordid reflections of the world we are living in. Unlike in the film, there is no charming Wall-E to wake us up, and there is no second chance for us to atone for our sins.
Pixar's new film is a valuable document of what makes us humans, and what we live for. Along with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, Wall-E will definitely find a place at the summit of every critic's top ten list for 2008. Wall-E to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature? Al Gore will certainly approve of that.
GRADE: A (9/10 or 4.5 stars)
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