Sunday, July 06, 2008
Simple. Sweet. Touching. Wall-E is all of these and more, and is easily Pixar's best work to date. How else can you describe such powerful character identification with a film that has no dialogue for roughly the first 30 minutes!
Set over 700 years in the future, Earth has long since been abandoned due to the pollution left behind in the wake of mass consumerism sponsored by the global-running mega corporation: Buy 'n Large. Buy 'n Large first attempted to clean up the planet with thousands of Wall-Es (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class), but the task proved too great and the Wall-Es were left behind when humanity jumped ship. Now, after 7 centuries, Wall-E is the only unit left functioning, and he routinely carries out his directive to try and clean up our mess.
After 700 years of continual operation, however, Wall-E has developed a personality, and is very curious about much of the trash he finds, keeping some of it as treasured possessions, and even adopting a cockroach as his only friend and pet. Otherwise, he maintains himself by scavenging parts from other disabled Wall-Es, and continues to crush large amounts of garbage into cubes, stacking them to create building-like structures as tall as skyscrapers!
Of course, with a personality also comes the inevitable emotions, and poor Wall-E is lonely, that is until a probe named EVE arrives on Earth to carry out her classified directive. What follows is a wonderfully written tale of acceptance and self discovery that leads Wall-E on a journey not only to fulfill his own dreams, but to save the Earth as well.
And that is Wall-E's strength, the film's simplicity from its characters to its themes, and the film does boast several relevant themes. One of my favourites is the hardcore criticism of consumerism and American values, which is torn open and laid bare in this film, and I find it all the more hilarious because I doubt the average American will understand that they're being ripped on this hard.
The animation is, of course, top-notch, and what's unique is that this is the first Pixar film to feature any live action, used sparingly though, in old videos. The sound mix is also excellent, the most unique draw being the voices of the different robots themselves, and how they all speak and make words with a series of drones and other noises. Very creative.
Thus far this year has been a strong one for theatres, but few have been in the calibre that Wall-E easily tops, and in a summer when everyone looks forward to great action and explosions, it's wonderful to be this captivated by this simple, empathetical tale about a robot trash compactor who simply wants to be loved, and to do what's right. The ideals and themes in Wall-E are so universal that anyone can identify with them, however not everyone, perhaps, will fully understand them.