By Scott Lumley
July 6, 2008
For a little more than 13 years now, Pixar has quietly and effortlessly shown us all what film could and should be. It started with Toy Story, stumbled a bit with A Bug's Life, and then dropped down a couple of gears and blew us away with a string of films that literally had Disney begging them to stay when their original contract expired. The record that Pixar has is magnificent and they show no sign of even slowing down.
To put it more succinctly, I recently reviewed a film and deemed it "Pixar good". That was the single highest praise I could lavish on any film. I literally own every single Pixar movie on DVD and there isn't a one in the bunch that I would not watch (again) multiple times at any given notice.
The problem with putting together a track record like that is that after a time, it becomes expected. Ratatouille came out last year and the general consensus was that it was a fine film, but it was no Finding Nemo. That isn't a fair comparison to make. There are precious few Finding Nemos in history, let alone from one studio in a decade's time.
Still, I have to say that WALL-E is no Finding Nemo. I'm not sure that it falls in their top three. I'm not even sure I can say what exactly this film is. I'm don't know if this is a romantic comedy, a treatise on ecological plundering, an homage to Buster Keaton or a clever horror film.
I'll tell you what I know it is, however. It's a unique and beautiful film.
WALL-E stars Ben Burtt as our titular hero and Elissa Knight as his dream robot Eve. If neither of those names seem familiar, it's because neither of them have headlined anything bigger than a video game. If that seems like I'm knocking them, I'm not. It's tough to emote in a animated film to begin with. It's made exponentially harder when you're limited to about four words total for the entire movie. Burt and Knight pull it off nicely, however. You can feel the dread, fear, confusion and occasional joy in their voices as they navigate some rather unusual problems.
WALL-E is really one of the most likeable characters that Pixar has ever produced. He's funny, resourceful, gentle, caring and lonely. Five minutes after seeing him, you really want one of your own, which is an odd feeling to have for what is essentially a garbage robot. Eve isn't quite as likable as WALLE, but she is sleek, cutting edge and dangerous. If she were a robot, I'm sure she'd look a lot like Angelina Jolie. She's also as critical to the film - if not more so - than WALL-E as it is her mission that drives the plot through the entire film. I will also tell you that the commercials appear to have been intentionally misleading and the plot goes in a direction I was not expecting at all.
The graphics in this movie are fantastically well done and are right in keeping with the Pixar standard. WALL-E looks incredibly weather worn, in direct contrast to Eve and her sleek, amazing form. Other robots on the ship are masterpieces of creativity and function. Everything looks stunning, the ships are super futuristic, the Earth is bleak and uninviting and WALL-E and Eve bridge the gap between the two beautifully.
Finally, much has been said about the lack of dialogue in this film. It's true. There is very little in the way of conversation going on here. That doesn't mean that the film isn't saying something, however. If you go to see it, I assure you that you will be listening intently.