When my brother and I sat down to watch Pan's Labyrinth (months ago now), I assured him it was some artsy kids film: 'probably going to be mystical and sort of darkly cute'. I was very, very wrong, as we discovered early on as someone had their nose beaten in with the butt of a pistol. Thankfully, Disney Pixar's WALL∙E lived up to my expectations. It was cute, visually impressive and contained just enough topical themes to avoid being another box-ticking animation production.
I suppose that's the main question when people are considering this film: does it live up to the expectations? You see, there are numerous aspects of this film's production which made this movie something of a make or break for the studio (although obviously Pixar was an incredibly powerful force in the industry beforehand - but you know what I mean). Firstly, there's the fact that WALL∙E was co-written and directed by Andrew Stanton, who had a major hand in the creation and production of the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo, and basically most of Pixar's big hits. Then, there's the fact that this film is attempting to animate space: what with all the anti-gravity etc., that's a pretty tall order. Then, there's the fact that it places so respectably on the IMDb top 100. Basically, we're left thinking it'd better be good.
Luckily, it is. Don't get me wrong, it's completely out of place on this list, which I had hoped would be a little more... high-brow. Nevertheless, WALL∙E is an example of animation done very well (or at least seems so to this unschooled provincial). I might not know about the intricacies of composition or cinematography here, but anyone walking in off the street can see this is a beautiful film. It has the lyrical beauty of 2001: A Space Odyssey, without all the cold emptiness. Instead, we see the wonders of the expanse of the universe, as compared with the overwhelming wreckage left on Earth by the fleeing humans.
I should probably move onto the plot here: WALL∙E is a Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class robot, who has been left behind to clear up the unbelievable eco-disaster humans have wreaked upon their home planet. I say, 'who', because WALL∙E clearly displays emotions, thought processes and general levels of mental autonomy, despite being the last sentient presence on Earth. Straight away, we have a leaning towards silent film influences, the links to Chaplin being pretty obvious without the help of various homages. It amazing how rich and engaging a film can be with only one character onscreen, who can't even really talk. Instead we have an ingenious use of sound and physical humour, which in itself had me cackling like a maniac.
Soon, EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) shows up, a much newer and sleeker robot, with the 'directive' to find life forms on Earth. Needless to say, the cutest imaginable love-interest plot-line emerges, which had me squeaking away in the corner, much to the frustration of my brother. It's just so cute! I guess that's what Pixar does best - get us all engaged and caring, with our emotions caught in a vice grip. Following her back up to her ship, we the audience in turn follow WALL∙E on his adventure onto the Axiom, the humans' home away from home.
'What the movie is saying' is pretty obvious: humans have lost all sense of responsibility in relying too much on technology. But then, technology is not inherently bad in and of itself: the most lovable characters are robots. Little rickety WALL∙E improves everyone with whom he comes into contact, emancipating them from their reliance on machines and revealing a new and beautiful reality to them. The end credits sum all this up quite nicely, and are well worth checking out, even if you're not dead keen on animated films. In fact, watch them here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuR8uq9J7gw. You are welcome.