I wish I had written this sooner, but I had other things distracting me. But I just had to do a review of Pixar's latest offering, Wall-E.
Wall-E has a story that differs immensely from Pixar's previous movies. Writer/director Andrew Stanton truly has a spark to take us to different worlds, and explore their atmospheres. It starts off on Earth, nearly 800 or so years into the future. The planet's atmosphere is covered with broken satellites, and the entire surface is a wasteland of garbage, sludge, and dust. We then meet WALL-E, a disposal-robot who is revealed to be the last being left alone on the planet.
The majority of Pixar's previous film's were "buddy" pictures (Toy Story, Monsters. Inc, Finding Nemo) or concerned individuals seeking to prove themselves (Cars, Ratatouille). This time, we have a character like WALL-E, who simply wishes to be loved and show affection. The character of EVE more or less follows the latter plot line, except she isn't trying to prove anything; rather she learns that there is something else beyond her directive purpose.
Love is clearly one of the biggest themes in the movie. WALL-E and EVE's budding romance is more central to the story than the romance in Pixar's previous movies.
Wall-E can also be argued as Pixar's most pessimistic story to date. It depicts what would happen if an international corporation (Buy N Large or BNL) gained enough power to be Earth's sole government. The Earth becomes over-polluted, all humans are sent into Space to wait for Earth to be cleaned up, and ultimately, BNL fails to take any responsibility. 700 years later, the humans in space are unaware of what has become of their home planet, and in the care of BNL's robots, they evolve into grotesquely obese beings who are too weak or distracted to do anything on their own.
I think that is a superb premise, and a pretty risky one.
The animation and visual design of the movie is remarkable. The look of the wasted Earth has so much atmosphere and depth. You get the feeling of a place that is really hot and it smells from every direction. You sort of get a feeling of claustrophobia in several places, which soon gets freed up when the setting shifts to outer space.
Something I cannot stress my greatest appreciation for is the way the dialog is handled. Wall-E and EVE (as well as the movie's many other robots) have very few words, including their names for the most part. As such, there is very little reliance on dialog to carry the story in several parts of the movie. The first 40 minutes of the film has so few human voices, that when we shift to the human characters, the sensation is pretty strong (its somewhat similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey, though not exactly).
The music is also quite unique. Thomas Newman, who provided the score for Finding Nemo (also directed by Andrew Stanton), composes a score that tailors itself to the characters. The music is very rhythmic with WALL-E, and very lush with EVE, and it gets busier when necessary. The music when WALL-E sees EVE for the first time is one of my favorite parts of the film, as well as when WALL-E and EVE are dancing outside the space station. And of course, there is a lovely song at the end, performed by one of my idols, Peter Gabriel.
I'm sure this review is too long already. And I think my praise is clear. This is truly one of Pixar's best. I encourage anyone reading this to go see it big-screen before it is too late.
Oh, and one more thing. As usual, Pixar has a short film that accompanies the movie. The short, "Presto," is a really charming and cute telling of the relationship between a magician and his rabbit. It seems to bear a slight resemblance to my own short, Ivan's Act. And also, there wasn't a preview for Pixar's next movie, as there usually is with each of their theatrical releases. Guess we'll find out later on.