Director: Andrew Stanton
Wall-E is a film of incredible ambition and intelligence, executed in a way that is absolutely flawless. With its lovable protagonist, strong message, admirably well-constructed story, and beautiful animation, this is a film that is destined to become an instant classic.
Wall-E takes place 700 years in the future, where mankind has spent the last several centuries waiting for waste disposal robots to make earth inhabitable again. Amid skyscrapers of garbage and the last remnants of civilization, only one of these robots has remained functional and continues to do his work. This, of course, is the titular Wall-E, who spends his days gathering trash and compacting it into little cubes, and also scavenging for items of interest (if, in fact, robots can be “interested” in something). One day something new arrives in Wall-E’s lonely world – a space craft which soon departs but leaves behind Eve, a drone sent to search for signs of organic life. Wall-E is instantly smitten and soon he’s showing Eve his collection, which includes a plant he finds growing inside an old refrigerator. The plant is the key to the story, signalling as it does that earth is once again able to sustain life and that the 700 year cruise (originally slated to last a mere 5 years) can finally come to its conclusion… if, of course, the robots in control of the ship can be overthrown.
I should state at the outset that I’m not someone who gravitates naturally to animated films. This isn’t to say that I have anything against animation, it’s just that as an adult I’ve rarely felt myself compelled to seek out animated movies. Even Pixar’s films, which are decidedly impressive and well-made, rarely draw me into the theatre (of all their films the only ones I’ve seen aside from this are Toy Story, Monster’s Inc. and Finding Nemo). That being said, I was delighted by the breadth and scope of this particular film. This is a story that really has a lot to say about the way we live right now and the direction our society is heading, and it does so in a way that’s pointed and intelligent. Our culture is superficial and disposable – look at the things that surround Wall-E on earth: he rolls over an expanse of garbage and up to an abandoned superstore that stretches as far as the eye can see; he covets items such as sporks (but can’t decide whether to include them in his collection of spoons or his collection of forks) and an old videotape of Hello Dolly! (of all movies why Hello Dolly!? Does anyone ever think of this movie anymore? – I think that’s the point; we’re a culture of fads, of loving something one minute and abandoning it the next in favour of something else).
The film is also critical of mankind’s dependence on machines to make life easier. After generations aboard the cruise liner, people have become enormous, getting around aboard their hover chairs, speaking to each other via screens directly in front of their faces – even when the person to whom they’re speaking is cruising along right beside them. When someone falls out of his hover chair, he lies on the ground, helpless like a turtle on its back, waiting for a robot to come along and put him back where he belongs.
There’s far too much going on in Wall-E for me to mention every thing I enjoyed about it, but I did want to mention just one more thing: the absolutely awesome evocation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which brings the film to a whole other level of genius.