Theatrical Review: Wall•E

Humanity has exhausted the Earth’s resources and left the planet nearly uninhabitable literally turning the planet into a huge dumping ground. Thanks to the BnL Corporation (Big n Large), humanity has left the planet and is living in space aboard huge luxury space liners, courtesy of BnL. On Earth, they’ve left behind robots, to clean-up the mess, and now 700 years after humanity has left the planet, one lone robot remains to clean up the mess, Wall•E. And now, Wall•E has found one little bit of vegetation and he’s taken it to his refuge to preserve it amongst other pop culture treasures that he’s found. Wall•E’s lone friend, a lowly cockroach, travels with him as he’s cleaning up the mess, building it into piles skyscrapers high, when all of a sudden, something comes back to the planet, a robot probe called Eva, with it’s mission being to find some sort of life on Earth, and when it comes, Wall• E becomes infatuated, and then travels back with the probe to the remnants of humanity who’ve become massively overweight and totally lost within their machine world, having everything done for them by the machines.

That’s a simplified version of the newest movie from the geniuses at Pixar, Wall•E, and yet again, Pixar shows us just why they are geniuses, yet again raising the bar with this newest movie.

It’s not enough that their own particular brand of computer animation is the highest quality there is, Pixar’s always striving to do something a little different with each new movie, and they do it again here. Yeah, sure, Wall•E is a comedic film, but it’s also a pretty decent sci-fi story and it takes a lot of huge chances by having minimal dialogue in the film, and creating characters that on their surface are far less anthropomorphized than previous films.

The opening bits of the film, on a dirty and dusty Earth, are amazingly realistic, not just in the look, but in how it’s actually photographed, in some places using a nice little handheld touch similar to how Battlestar Galactica’s space scenes are shot. And just the design alone seems to owe much more to actual science fiction illustrators more than what you might expect out of this sort of movie (or if this movie was done by anyone else other than Pixar).

And yet, they’ve still crafted a heartwarming, sentimental and funny center to the whole thing, and while the behavior of the robots won’t exactly fit the hardest standard of a sci-fi aficionado, for this movie, it shouldn’t really matter (and it certainly didn’t for me).

Pixar also bucks the trend here by not casting big names for the vocal work, in fact Wall•E’s voice is provided by master sound man, Ben Burtt, but true to form though, they still find a part for John Ratzenberger to perform.

Pixar also takes their first step with combining live action with computer generation especially in telling the story of humanity’s first step into the stars (and using veteran comedy actor Fred Williard in the part of the president of the BnL Corporation) and it’s not overdone, and still seems pretty natural and a good fit with what’s already set-up.

Wall•E is just a whole lot of big fun, not only state-of-the-art, but also with careful consideration for it’s story, it’s characters and all of the details in between. As usual, you also get a short film in front of this called Presto about a magician and the rabbit that he pulls out of his hat, and this thing in itself is amazingly well done, again technically proficient and gut-bustingly funny, evoking more the classic style of classic Warner Brothers cartoons more than anything else.

I got to see this in digital projection and honestly, if you have the chance, that’s the way to see it, but regardless, this one’s still just a hell of a lot of fun and well worth seeing whether you get to see it in digital or not. Highly recommended and right up there with the best of the year…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

28. June 2008 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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