Monday, 14 July 2008

WALL E (aka WALL·E / WALL-E): movie review / preview

I got a free ticket to preview the Disney / Pixar animated movie WALLE or Wall·E in a large screen cinema last weekend, thanks to Melinda - it officially opens in the UK on 18 July 2008.

In summary: go see it! It's well worth it, as (in true Pixar tradition) it's not just a children's movie: it works on many levels, and adults will enjoy it as much as children will - in some ways more so, as there are lots of clever, funny references which kids may not get. One of the best films that I've seen in a long time, it's a great mix of many genres: animation, of course; family movie; comedy (romantic comedy, even); pathos; science fiction; action / adventure thriller (with heroes to cheer on and villains to boo) and, yes, musical!, and to me it hits the spot in so many ways. Here's the official trailer:

I don't want to give too much away but there's been so much talk already about this animation (e.g. see IMDB) that the plot is well known, so here's a short summary.

On an abandoned, derelict Earth, overflowing with rubbish and racked by unpredictable storms and winds, there's a lone waste-collecting robot (Wall-E - which stands for "Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class"). It goes about its business of fulfilling its prime directive: collecting and compacting waste, building skyscraper after skyscraper of trash, with just a seemingly indestructible little cockroach for company. It's the only one of its kind still going, recharging itself in the sun, and dutifully carrying on with its seemingly endless task. Over the years it's developed human traits: curiosity - and loneliness, and a love of musicals, both assuaged and fed by the "Hello Dolly" clips it keeps playing over and over from an old VHS it's rescued.

Then, one day, a huge spaceship lands and out emerges sleek robot EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). It turns out that, hundreds of years ago, all of humanity took itself off for a "five"-year luxury cruise in space organised by the ubiquitous "Big n Large", while robots were left behind to clean up the mess humans had made of Earth. So why are they still out there in a sterile space cruise liner, each in their isolated floating carriers, too fat and atrophied to walk?

The graphics are realistic, the robots and their expressive noises incredibly cute, and the story an excellent one very well told - initially mostly silently and through old advertising videos in the background, and then through the robots and their actions and sounds, though there is some talking later on in the movie. Unlike some people, I don't think the ecological message, which is really more a backdrop to the love story and comedy action thriller movie, is too "in yer face".

There are brilliant touches like the row of portraits showing the ship's successively more obese captains, and a gaggle of mad malfunctioning "reject bots" on the spaceship, locked away in their individual electronic cells (though of course they too will have their part to play...):

Even the credits are worth staying for, with a superb history of art playing out cleverly in the background - and there's "guess the computer game" after "guess the artist"!

The preceding short animation Presto is hilarious, a worthy adjunct to the main movie. The official Wall-E site is also excellent, with downloadable wallpaper, avatars etc. There are lots more Wall.E trailers, excerpts and featurettes on YouTube.

Wall E is a must see - so go see!


patrick said...

Wall-E totally looks like the robot from "Short Circuit"... minus the cheesy 80's style of course

Improbulus said...

It does, doesn't it? According to the Wikipedia entry, "The director also acknowledged he may have been subconsciously influenced by Johnny 5 from the film Short Circuit (which he saw once)."