Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I must begin this little article with a heartfelt apology to Pixar Studios. After seeing ‘Kung Fu Panda’, a movie I absolutely adored, I made the comment that Pixar is really going to have to step up the plate with their, at the time unreleased picture, ‘Wall·E’ if they were going take the crown as the best animated feature of the summer of 2008. Though ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is a more ‘rousing’ film than ‘Wall·E’, the Pixar entry into the big summer movie sweepstakes, is the better movie… by far. What was I thinking?

Our film starts in what we will learn is the distant future and the earth ain’t looking all that healthy. The planet is completely lifeless, was deserted centuries ago due to the toxins and garbage built up by the completely irresponsible Buy and Large corporation, led by their CEO and President of the United States, Shelby Forthright (Fred Willard). Garbage piles as tall as building dominate the landscape as we are introduced to the Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class robot, or Wall·E as he is called, who seems to be all alone on the planet dutifully combing the lifeless landscape, with his silent cockroach best friend, compacting trash and piling it high. Even though Wall·E hasn’t been properly maintained for what we are guessing is a very long time, he is powered by the sun which is still fully functioning and there seem to be enough broken Wall·E’s lying about that our little somewhat intelligent robot can salvage for the spare part here and there. Plus Wall·E has built up a little collection of items that he stores in his little home as he does his daily duties during sun up, with his prize possession being a old VHS tape of ‘Hello Dolly’.

Things change for Wall·E when an unmanned space ship drops off a shiny white scout droid for an unknown task, who immediately catches our little robots eye, despite the cute little bots penchant for laying to waste anything that has the misfortune of startling it. After avoiding some this little robots fiery death blasts, Wall·E learns that this bot is female in origin… I guess… and goes by the moniker EVE, though her ‘Directive is

Classified’. So entranced is Wall·E by EVE that he shares with her all of his little collection including one item which is apparently part of EVE’s classified directive which she secures and then shuts down to await retrieval, during her shutdown Wall·E takes great pains to protect EVE from the various elements, sandstorms or whatever else that may do his new lady love harm. When EVE’s ship comes to reclaim her, Wall·E manages to hitch a ride, not so easily willing to let this new friend go and now finds himself on a ship of the future that has been auto-piloting in space for the last 700 years with its residents showing what happens when one lives a sedentary life and consumes empty carbs in an artificially gravitated environment. There are problems in this new world though, the greatest of which being that there are forces which want to derail EVE’s directive and prevent her from completing her very important mission. Now it is up to EVE and her little trash compacting buddy to complete her mission and hopefully save some grossly overweight humans in process.

Pixar Studios, who one can make a solid argument that it is the greatest movie studio in the history of the earth, is a good example of what happens when an extremely high level of imagination collides with an equally high level of skill. These cats don’t make great animated movies, they make great movies period. Seriously though, when one goes into a film with the full expectation that the movie they are about to see will be fantastic, and then this movie we see manages to surpass what we were expecting and then to have this happen over and over and over again… I don’t know what you even call that. Plus it isn’t like Pixar is redoing rehashes of ‘Toy Story’ or ‘Finding Nemo’ with each new film being completely independent of the previous one… except for ‘Toy Story II’ of course – which was still transcendent. To get a bit technical, it is amazing what the wizards at Pixar are able to do with virtual cameras and focal lengths creating just right amount of depth of field for emotional impact in this movie. I mean you don’t see this level of photography skill with real cameras in real settings let alone the virtual ones that they have created in this movie.

The movie itself manages to be remarkable in that it takes an object that can’t speak, smile, frown or use any kind of recognized human emotion and still managed to infuse the character of Wall·E with as much emotion and heart as any character that they have ever created, with the same being said for the EVE robot but she does have the advancement of an LED screen to help emote a little better than Wall·E can. I would call the first half of the film the better half with its incredible level of detail, witty and sly humor scattered amidst the barren wasteland of earth and Director Andrew Stanton’s ability to create a magical relation ship between a dirty piece of automated steel and a cockroach. In the film’s second half it transforms into more of a standard adventure film, which was still very good, but I suppose if one had to lob a criticism at this wonderful movie it would be that the second half wasn’t quite as clever or as artistically inspired as the first half.

‘Wall·E’ is a great G-Rated ‘love story’ for pretty much the entire planet earth as I saw plenty of childless couples and lonely dudes sitting in their recliners, munching popcorn and enjoying this movie. Now allow me to officially pry my lips of the butt of John Lassiter and those wizards at Pixar who I’m sure one day will make a movie that only manages to be ‘good’ and not great.

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