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478 of 539 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, June 26, 2008
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This review is from: Wall-E (Single-Disc Edition) (DVD)
I am floored. I didn't think it was possible for Pixar to surpass Toy Story, but it has. A sophisticated treat for adults and teens, a cuddly romance for the juice-box set, this comedic science fiction thriller romance (really!) takes the company to a new, more mature level. Filled with artistry, depth, meaning and a lot of humor, WALL-E is a masterpiece. Where Cars was a kid's movie with added adult themes, this is an adult movie with added value for children.

DIALOGUE SCHMIALOGUE

Before I saw WALL-E I had read about the lack of dialogue, and how it might be a risky move for Pixar to make a film with characters that don't talk in a traditional sense. Well, trash that. The most emotionally powerful scenes in this movie are those with the LEAST dialogue. Fully developed and indeed almost human, the two main characters are Wall-E himself (the letters stand for Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class; there's also a WALL-A) and EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), two machines in love.

After about a half hour I was wondering if Pixar could continue to pull off this less-is-more concept for the rest of the film -- then the two robots started playing Pong! Such imaginative screenplay carries the film to what should be a Best Picture nomination. Seriously.

A TOUCHING STORY

WALL-E is a lonely little robotic trash compactor who was left behind after Earth was abandoned some 700 years earlier. He has been methodically cleaning up the trash-ridden planet ever since, and harboring a tiny plant he has found among the garbage. Eve, meanwhile, lives on the immense spaceship Axiom, which is also home to the fat, blob-like remains of the human race. She is a probe robot that flies to Earth to determine if the planet is ready for habitation. WALL-E takes one look at the streamlined, angelic Eve and falls in love.

It didn't take long for me to fall in love with the little robot. As soon as he giggled (after his pet cockroach tickled him) I was hooked. This hardworking rusty guy with his small home full of collected treasures is so poignant. His lonely life is so human. Eve is just as likable, but much more sleek. Near the end comes a heartbreaking moment when a key character seems to lose all personality, all self. So well done, it made me think of how families must feel when a loved one disappears inside him- or herself with Alzheimer's disease.

All ends well, of course. As the credits roll, the artwork illustrates how everyone and everything lives happily after ever.

AN ADULT MEANING

For adults, WALL-E is not so much about a cute little robot as it is about the future of man. What happens when humans become such creatures of the consumer culture, so fat they can't even stand up without assistance, living literally on auto-pilot, that they do nothing but buy cheap merchandise, stuff their faces at the Regurgitated Food Buffet and lie around watching video screens? Can they ever get back to the land and set their souls free? Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young asked that question decades ago; Pixar asks it today.

There is even a sly political reference. Broadcasting a message to the passengers of the spaceship, the CEO of monster corporation Buy 'n' Large -- played in live-action by the inimitable Fred Willard, and named Shelby Forthright -- says they will be continuing on their never-ending, hopeless cruise to nowhere because they must "Stay the course!" Hmmm, haven't I heard a president use that line?

EXTRA TOUCHES

WALL-E has so many wonderful touches! After the little robot is charged using his solar panels, he "turns on" with a sound any Macintosh owner will recognize. The robot's collected objects, much like the thingamabobs of The Little Mermaid's Ariel, are things that are uniquely human: bubble wrap, an iPod, a Rubics cube, a singing plastic trophy fish and -- blink and you'll miss it -- a carrousel horse from Walt Disney World. Especially inspired are the two things on this future Earth that are totally indestructible: a cockroach and Twinkies.

Stay for the credits. Recalling cave drawings, hieroglyphics, Monet and Van Gogh paintings and early computer graphics, the progressive sequence of art within them sneaks in the history of dialogue-free storytelling.

ANIMATED? REALLY?

The look of the movie is hard to describe. In one scene, when WALL-E and EVE are investigating a piece of bubble wrap, you can't tell it is an animated film. It actually appears to be live-action. Likewise, the outer space scenes have the same level of realism as any of the Star Wars movies. The trailing tower of squiggly smoke that's left behind by a launching spacecraft re-creates the Florida sky of a Space Shuttle launch to a T. For the most part, it is only when humans are portrayed that you are consciously aware that what you're watching was generated on circuit boards, not in cameras.

I've seen the movie three times, first in digital projection and then from a film projector. The digital showing was much sharper, which made all the realistic touches far easier to appreciate.

MOVIE REFERENCES

It's obvious the Pixar folks are movie lovers; there are so many cinematic inspirations in WALL-E that I lost count. The "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" sequence from Hello, Dolly! shows up -- literally -- maybe half a dozen times. (Disney World fans may also remember the song as one of the background melodies along Main Street U.S.A.) The Axiom spaceship's computer is clearly an homage to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey; that film's signature overture "Also Sprach Zarathustra" plays at a key moment. WALL-E himself combines the purrs of E.T., the attitude of R2-D2 and the moves of Charlie Chaplin. There's a brief reference to Titanic.

OPENING CARTOON

The movie is preceded by a Pixar short, "Presto," that had the entire audience I was sitting with in stitches. Its plot: When a magician neglects to feed his bunny a carrot, an escalating disaster results. It's so nice to start a feature with a cartoon. I wish other studios still did it. (Disney fans will note the magician's hat is similar to the one used by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia.)

Will it ever run out? This continuous font of imagination from Pixar? With WALL-E, it sure doesn't look like it.

-- By Julie Neal, author of The Complete Walt Disney World 2010.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 27 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 27, 2008 4:56:53 PM PDT
I just have to say, great review. You said it better then I ever could.

Posted on Jun 27, 2008 10:18:18 PM PDT
Scotman says:
Excellent review! Much better to tell us the good points rather than the few "critics" and their complaining about the "message", subliminal though it may be. So the heck what? i wish some people could just simply enjoy a film without cutting it up. Good review.

Posted on Jun 30, 2008 4:03:09 PM PDT
Excellent review! I, like you, was hesitant after hearing about the lack of dialogue. The last animated film I saw without dialogue was that movie about the horse named Spirit, which was one of the absolute worst movies I've ever seen. Wall-E, however, was a superb film and in my opinion, Pixar's best work to date that will probably be left untouched. It's touching, superbly animated, entertaining, and funny.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 8:28:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2008 8:29:26 AM PDT
You've made a thorough, engaging, and enthusiastic review. You really covered all the bases. Funny after getting the message, they're asking people in consumer culture to buy their toys. You've written a very perceptive and insightful review, though, that's fun to read.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 3:30:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2008 3:33:01 PM PDT
Hal Owen says:
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 9:13:42 PM PDT
Adam See says:
I would just like to add my complements to the others here. This is a brilliant film and you articulated it, well, brilliantly.

Posted on Jul 14, 2008 2:47:07 PM PDT
This is a very helpful review. I can't wait to see this movie.

Posted on Jul 24, 2008 5:08:44 PM PDT
Pixarfan says:
I found WALL-E to be one of the best films of the year. Better than all the Pixar films. Better than Iron Man. Better than Indiana Jones. Better than Kung Fu Panda and even better than The Chronicles of Narnia. And even better than Horton Hears a Who! WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY better than 10,000 B.C. No other movie made me as happy as this.

Posted on Aug 23, 2008 9:10:49 PM PDT
Please no Bush bashing, that sort of thing ruins the movie for me. If anything, I see it a bit differently. But beyond that gripe there, you did a very good job covering the movie's plot. Of course the Director of the movie said it him self that he didn't mean for any political or environmental message in his movie, the movie is about Wall-e and his search for finding someone just to hold hands with and to love.

But beyond that this movie has to win Best Picture at the Oscars, I'll be totally pissed off if it doesn't even get nominated for Best Picture, it blows "The Dark Knight" Out of water in terms of emotional content.

Posted on Sep 3, 2008 3:57:13 AM PDT
Girlgood9 says:
I agree about the same. Regarding the dialogue, what type of movies do people think there was before we had sound technology? It wasn't a silent film, but still the lack of dialogue was of tasteful use in the movie.
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