"WALL-E" is latest feature-length animated production from the Disney - Pixar enterprise. Directed by Andrew Stanton*, the film is a love story between two robots living 700 years into the future.
WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter- Earth) is a robot designed to clean up the vast polluted junk yard that was once Earth. The human race has escaped into space on a luxury space ship, awaiting a time when they can safely return to the devastated planet. The story unfolds when WALL-E meets and falls for EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) - a model of robot intermittently sent from space to check if Earth can support life yet. When EVE discovers fauna on the planet, she returns to her space ship with the good news. The smitten WALL-E follows in hot pursuit.
However, something stands between humanity, and their return to the planet they once knew...
The first thing you will notice about "WALL-E" is the animation. It is stunning, and marks a departure from any other computer animated film I have seen. It combines the acute realism of modern computer graphics with a dreamy, fairytale quality that echoes Disney films of the past.
Add to this impeccable comic timing, an extremely lovable protagonist, a good plot with a strong message, and you have the makings of an incredible film.
But, much as I enjoyed it, "WALL-E" was not an incredible film. Unlike other animated movies from Disney that have explored the deeper side of life (RIP Bambi's Mom), "WALL-E"'s naively blinkered outlook causes it to fall short of its potential as a significant moment in cinematic history.
Despite highlighting very serious green issues, the film does little to expand on them (other than ending with a preachy - and incredibly bad - music track). Human beings are now akin to the Eloi race from H.G.Wells' "The Time Machine", but the unlike that book, "WALL-E" does not probe the cryptic issues at the heart of human nature. Humanity is portrayed as weak and dim: inclined to contently follow the path of least resistance, and for me this view is unrealistic. In the same way that animals held in captivity for too long will go mad, human beings who are (unknowingly) trapped by a system feel a gnawing discontent that, over the years, becomes depression. Many people can choose to ignore this, and go on to live the kinds of lives they are told to live. But not all.
Criticism aside however, "WALL-E" is warm, touching, and beautiful to look at. It had me in fits of laughter, while one of my housemates was nearly moved to tears. Any film that spans an audience so much that a sentimental person like myself can laugh raucously, while a bloke who plays hurling feels like shedding a tear, is fine by me :-)
7 out of 10... with an extra 1/2 for the animation!
* who seems to be a man-about-town in the computer animation world. He's been involved in most of the Pixar films over the last few years, as producer, writer, director, and even actor.