The empire has been established for almost two decades, but not until I saw “Wall-E” which was just released this past summer did I realize that Pixar is officially the greatest creator of animation in Hollywood since Walt Disney. And with “Wall-E” they have created their most adult film, for kids.
“Wall-E” takes place over 800 years into the future but takes the queue from other classic dystopia films and makes the future, maybe unrecognizable, seem frighteningly like the present.
In these 800 years into the future, Earth is unlivable and has been completely abandoned by humans. All of the green fields and blue oceans have disappeared and the skyscrapers of giant cities have shaped into giant piles of garbage and the remains of a giant Wal Mart like corporation.
Humans have left Earth on a giant space station called Axiom that’s a dystopian utopia. Humans have now gotten so obese and lazy that they can’t even walk anymore and instead move from place to place via hover chair. Human interaction is sparse and thanks to robots, you don’t even need to get out of bed. All of this is thanks to the Buy N Large, which provides meals to everyone via giant cups that looks like something you’d get at Robeks. Hmmm, this seems relevant.
Back at Earth, the only living things are a few cockroaches, and a robot named Wall-E. Wall-E is a robot that was part of a failed project to clean up the Earth. He now wanders the deserted planet, compacting trash and watching old videotapes. He wanders the Earth in agonizing loneliness until one day another robot named EVE (religious undertone, perhaps?) comes to Earth for unknown reasons. Wall-E immediately falls in love.
Pixar has always been great at giving life to the inanimate and to animals all while dehumanizing people. The toys of “Toy Story” could speak and interact and the mice of “Ratatouille” could outsmart the people around them. The robots of “Wall-E” can love while humans can’t even move their legs. However, by the end, “Wall-E” ends up showing sympathy for humans which plays a part in its ultimately hopeful message.
But with all of the religious and political themes, the true heart of “Wall-E” lies in its love story. Director/writer Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo”) creates a love story between two robots yet makes it seem human by pumping it with life, energy and humor. I am not much of a crier when it comes to movies but the story of Wall-E and Eve nearly had me reaching for a tissue box. Making a relationship between two people in a movie seem believable in a movie is difficult. But making a love story between two robots seem believable, well, takes a lot of talent.
The character of the title, Wall-E, is truly the most lovable part of the movie. In one of the best sci-fi films in years, the robot is quite possibly the most endearing sci-fi character since E.T. No surprise, Wall-E’s voice sounds like a mixture of E.T. and R2-D2. Also, like “E.T,” “Wall-E” proves that the science-fiction drama isn’t all about aliens, predators, and terminators. There is a large amount of room for heart, even if a robot doesn’t have one.
“Wall-E” is innovative in everything from its extremely realistic animation to its irregular story structure. It drops the witty banter that is typical of a Pixar film and replaces it with extremely long silences. Most of the time, it feels more like “2001″ than “Finding Nemo.” Despite the long, dialogue-free sequences, the movie never feels boring. In fact, it is the imagery that makes the movie captivating and where it finds most of its humor. Pixar has found a way to make intelligent humor out of slapstick and visuals. Genius.
“Wall-E” is a definite nominee in the Best Animated Feature Oscar (and probably win) but is good enough that in a perfect world, it would get a Best Picture nomination. Why? Everything. The writing, the story, the characters, and the political messages. It is hard to say which film about the future will become most accurate, but I believe “Wall-E” will come pretty close. And this is coming from a generation of children’s films that include such glaring historical inaccuracies as “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”
“Wall-E” may be rated G but it will probably appeal more to adults than kids. But the message it teaches is crucial to the audience of children it should attract. In fact it is a message universal to any person of any age. It proves that love can exist between any two things, and the promise of hope is very real. Yes, even in an unforgivingly consumerist culture.
The same production company that’s poisoning our country with “High School Musical,” Miley Cyrus, and the Jonas Brothers is also responsible for a film that could maybe make our world a little better. Maybe they should make more films like this because after all, kids are capable of being mature enough to see a film that doesn’t involve a bunch of high school kids dancing and singing.
For sure I can say this: “Wall-E” has earned a true place in my heart. And less your heart is made of nothing but wires and computer chips, you will love it too.
Recommended for Fans of: Toy Story, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Monster’s Inc, Star Wars, E.T., Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, Children of Men, 2001: A Space Odyssey