Pixar’s spot on again with this cute robot classic…
Most Pixar characters are instantly lovable, whether it be the affable Woody from Toy Story, Monsters Inc’s big cuddly Sulley or cute little Nemo. So it is with a little trepidation that you first approach clunky robot WALL-E – or ‘Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class’ to give it its full name – and hope to cherish it in the same way.
Of course any fears you may have that Pixar has set itself up for a fall are soon dispelled. This is a company that not only knows exactly what it is doing, but is so in tune with human nature that it sets a precedent of cinematography and storytelling that others can only hope to follow.
Indeed so confident is Pixar with its new character and the strength of its charming story that the opening 40 minutes of the film contains virtually no dialoague. While this may sound like torture to some, it is in fact one of the most beautifully constructed pieces of cinema to have graced theatre screens for many many years. Much like sportsmen are often told to do their talking on the field rather than blasé media pieces, Pixar lets the animation speak for itself.
The story too is one of bold statements. WALL-E finds itself as the last remaining thing on Earth – an idea that director Andrew Stanton first set to put to film way back in 1995 – after all the humans have deserted the planet for a better life in space on board an all-in-one super-spaceship where they never have to lift a finger to have fun.
The little robot spends his time sorting rubbish and collecting old junk from the forgotten planet, until he meets EVE (an Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) and quickly becomes besotted by her. Eventually following her back into space, WALL-E comes across the human race for the first time and inadvertently sets out to help them realise exactly what they’ve left behind on Earth.
Set to a backdrop of glorious swing tunes and excerpts from Hello Dolly, the homage to a golden era of humanity is clear from Pixar. And while the messages may be strikingly obvious, from overweight teens chatting to each other via IM while only sitting feet apart, to swimming pools that no-one uses except to sunbathe beside, they are never driven home with any ferocity to make you feel awkward.
Most importantly, underpinning this tale of romance and humanity is arguably some of the finest animation to date. Despite its metallic appearance, rusty exterior and junk-yard habitat it is impossible not to immediately fall for WALL-E, such is the beauty of its creation. Borrowing heavily from Lenny the binoculars in Toy Story, the animators manage to fit more emotive expressions into WALL-E’s eyes than most Hollywood actors can produce in an entire film.
Of course Pixar is well known for its homage to other media and films and alongside the Holly Dolly references which form the main crux of the storyline sit cute little references to Apple, new owners Disney and of course characters from other Pixar movies. In fact it’s an entire hour and a half’s entertainment trying to spot all these alone.
But, as is clear to even the youngest of viewers, with this cute little robot that cherishes all the things that we consider disposable, there is a stronger message here. Yet, for a film which quite openly criticises big conglomerate corporations and our current environmental policy, it is always surpassed by the sheer quality of storytelling and beauty of its animation. A must watch for all ages.