Movie Review: Wall•E

Wall-E

Believe the hype.
Believe in movies again.
Because when it comes to movies these days, so much out there is re-hashed. Even the movie I’m looking forward to most of all this summer is merely a sequel to a movie about a comic book … and it’s the third in a line of movie franchises about that same comic book.
In other words, it’s been done.
But Pixar — which some will say hasn’t missed yet, but I’ll argue that Monsters Inc. and Cars were merely “decent” — did something with “Wall•E” that very few studios are doing these days.
They did something new. They took a giant chance.
Wall•E is a kids movie, but it’s also very much an adult movie. It’s a Charlie Chaplin film, a 1950s musical, a science fiction drama and a love story all rolled into one.
The plot: Wall•E is one of many little robots left behind to clean up the earth after humans left on a giant ship because they polluted the planet so much. For 700 years, little Wall•E has picked up trash and compacted it … there are now towers of trash larger than city skyscrapers. But while all the other robots and living things have died off, Wall•E keeps plugging away. He, a cockroach and a tiny plant are the lone survivors.
Over his 700 years, Wall•E has developed a personality and a love for a certain musical (I won’t say which one in case anybody wants to be surprised). He also longs for companionship, and it comes one day in the form of EVE, a robot sent to search for life (which she finds in the plant).
Wall•E is completely enamored with EVE, and the scenes where he attempts to woo “her” are both hilarious and touching. When EVE is called back to the “mothership”, Wall•E hitches a ride, and we discover that the human race has “evolved” into overweight lazy men and women who are hovered around everywhere and eat all their meals in milkshake form.
It may sound like a complicated plot, and there really is a lot going in the story. Some have noted in their reviews that Wall•E tries to come off as too preachy (humans are slobs) or too Al Gore-ish (there’s definitely a global theme and even a Bush jab thrown in) … but all that is beside the point.
To me, the plot is wonderfully simple.
When it all comes down to it, Wall•E is a sweet little story about a robot who just wants somebody or something to hold hands with.
And it’s brilliant.
Beautifully made, wonderfully paced and ultimately, an incredibly pleasing experience.
Pixar’s best film, and Disney’s best effort in a long, long, long time.
I was excited to see this movie back when I saw the first teaser for it (I blogged about it more than a year ago in one of my first-ever posts).
All the hype, and all the anticipation, and I was still blown away.

My grade: 9 out of 10

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11 thoughts on “Movie Review: Wall•E

  1. Pingback: ShareClubA » Blog Archive » Music from Memphis, Tennessee

  2. I read this first thing this morning and it just made me want to go see the movie all over again. By far, my favorite Pixar and one I’ll be able to watch repeatedly without tiring.

    To me, this is as close to movie perfection as it gets. I would have given it a 10 out of 10!!

  3. I thought Wall-E was cute and I enjoyed it. I ranted a little about the human bashing before we got there (the premise being that in the future our planet is about 200 feet deep in trash and uninhabitable), but after we got into it, it was fairly easy to resign to the scenario as any other unlikely future scenario (see the impossibly perfect egalitarianism of Star Trek, for example). But in the end, the movie is mainly cute robots and fantastic animation. 7.5 out of 10

    BUT the Pixar short before the movie was hilarious and is the reason I will rush out to get the DVD when it comes out. It was AWESOME. (There is no point describing it. You just have to see it.)

  4. We went and saw WALL-E on Friday as well, and the kids thought it was phenomenal. I also thought it was pretty darned good. I guess I’d give it 7ish out of 10 stars, maybe even an 8.

    The only complaint I have about the movie, and this goes for most of today’s animated features aimed at kids… but hoping to snare a few adults as well, is when they incorporate what I’ll call ‘gratuitous pop culture slapstick’ that is only going stay relevant for a few years. Some flicks put so much of this in the films that I end up rolling my eyes through half the movie.

    Pixar does a better job of keeping these nuggets to a minimum, but Disney and Dream Works seem to really pack them in over the last few years, Shrek being a particularly egregious example.

    Now, some may say, what am I talking about? Well in the case of WALL-E, it is the Macintosh bootup sound, which while a cute and humorous nod to Apple fans, is going to lose its relevance over time. Other nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey probably will likely have lasting power due to its sheer iconic status. But I think it was gratuitous, in the literal sense. So I really can’t knock WALL-E too much, as these gimmicks are pretty light, harmless, and don’t intrude too much.

    But in other animated films, again like Shrek, there are very topical jokes, satires(Matrix/Charlies Angels), etc that the movie relies upon rather heavily for the ‘adult market’. And my contention is that it weakens the movie over time as the jokes age and no one recognizes them. And in my personal experience it even weakens the initial quality of film as it diminishes the ability to ‘suspend disbelief’ while I’m just shaking my head. After all, did Shrek see Charlies Angels? I doubt it 🙂

    But in the end I don’t think the producers care, as a kids film IS a very topical product after all. Most aren’t concerned with the… let’s call it ‘integrity’ of a kid’s animated film. It’s a product, good for some fun and laughs today, and that’s the goal. And that’s OK. I just don’t have to like it 🙂

    And unfortunately for WALL-E, through no(or very little) fault of its own, for me, those other films with ‘gratuitous pop culture slapstick’ make me hyper-sensitive to this fluff. But then again, maybe I’m just being TOO sensitive! *laugh*

    Well, regardless, I liked WALL-E. It wasn’t a unique vision into a post-apocalyptic lone robot/technology future(examples abound, see AI or Forbidden Planet), or a ground breaking robot tear-jerker(see Black Hole or Silent Running), but it was well crafted and balanced the ‘oh that is just silly’ with reasonable kiddo speed sci-fi.

    The bottom like, the kids ‘oohed, ahhed, and laughed’ the whole way through. That’s really all that mattered 🙂

    I think WALL-E will be a huge hit, but may not have the cutesy kid staying power of Toy Story, Monsters Inc., or Cars as they seemed much more targeted at the younger crowd where WALL-E started to drift… just a bit…. into being an actual serious film.

    ….and years later, I am still incredibly impressed with Sulley’s animated hair. That had to take some serious CPU time.

    Now I have to go explain 2001 to my kids. Wish me luck.

    Al

  5. Wall-E is a love story…pure and simple. The bleak outlook on Earth’s future (something that seems highly probable to me) and pop culture nods do not at all diminish this powerful romance.

    The fact that Wall-E booted up with familiar computer sounds and the environmental theme are simply very timely with today’s tech market being ruled by Apple and everyone going green. This may all be irrelevant in 20 years, but so is the music from any movie soundtrack, the fashion from any movie and probably some of the plots!

  6. The Apple start-up sound was less a pop-culture reference and more a nod to Apple, which helped get Pixar going. The 2001: Space Odyssey similarities were, again, less a pop-culture reference and more a nod to brilliant science fiction.

    The difference is Shrek and most other animated movies these days thrive off your pop culture knowledge to make the movie work. Who cares if it has a shelf life … they’re here for the laughs today. The difference between Shrek and Wall-E (other than the fact that one’s a brilliant film and the other is cute but forgettable) is that Wall-E doesn’t require you to know what it’s referencing to make it a great movie.

    If you hear the Apple start-up and don’t know what an iMac is, then you’re not “out of the loop.” It’s a cute sound that makes the little robot start his day. If you have no idea about the robot in 2001, then that doesn’t make you not appreciate the ship’s Axiom computer … but if you do catch the correlation, it’s a bonus.

    However, if you haven’t seen the Matrix, then you don’t understand why a princess has stopped in mid-air before she karate kicks somebody in Shrek. You also won’t find half of the things the ogre says to be funny (which I don’t, anyway). The first Shrek only worked because it was a sweet story. Parts 2 and 3 were just awful.

    To call Wall-E’s references “gratuitous”, to me, is off the mark. But it’s an opinion. I doubt you also caught the numerous Pixar Easter eggs in the film, from the scooter from Ratatouille that was in the trash bin to a few of the Toy Story characters (and a Macintosh keyboard) in Wall-E’s shelf at home. Again, these are fun little nods, but by no means if you didn’t catch them, does it take away from the movie.

    Just sounds like nit-pickin’ to me.

  7. Heh …. I understand and agree, it indeed is ‘nit pickin’, almost by definition 🙂

    But heh, this is a movie review thread, so I’m just offering my opinion *shrug* I certainly hope it didn’t/doesn’t come across as bashing the film or argumentative.

    And keep in mind, I didn’t say the movie was bad, and even gave it a 7-8ish stars, which equates to darned good in my book. I can’t even think of what I’d call a ‘9 star’ movie off-hand(it’s too early, and I haven’t had my coffee).

    But WALL-E has been super-hyped as the best film of the Summer, etc… and I have to admit that hurt my experience as I was already piqued to find fault, which is an unfortunate and typical side effect when expectations are set so high. But that’s not the movie’s fault.

    However each person’s experience is different, and with my admitted neurosis of ‘nit picking’ movie errors or what I sometimes see as lazy short-cuts and cheap gags, I find myself distracted from the film itself. It dilutes the experience of suspending disbelief. Not everyone suffers from this nutso focus on ‘missing the point of the whole movie’ course, but it’s the burden I must carry *sigh* …uh yeah, ah hem 🙂

    Heck, and beyond my mental SNAFU about movie details, just as an aside, I also experience smearing in most fast live action movie scenes because the standard 24 frames per second is too slow for me, but that’s a total aside…. and has nothing to do with WALL-E 🙂 Ah how I suffer for my films! *laugh*

    But I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a shade-tree movie snob, and am always that guy in the theater pointing out continuity errors: ‘Hey, he’s got a different shirt on in that scene!’ or ‘They didn’t have digital watches in 1950!’ …. or like in the recent Indiana Jones complained that their reproduction 1940s Harley Davidson had modern hand switch controls…. oh the horror!! *laugh*

    And don’t get me started on how bad almost all the subsequent Star Wars films were(the third was OK), or how Lucas butchered the first three when he ‘digitally enhanced’ them!

    Sad but true 🙂

    As I mentioned, with regard to gratuitous pop references, for me WALL-E is more of a minor victim than a repeat gross offender, and it really didn’t hurt the film for the most part in my experience. If other films like Shrek(poster child for this phenom) hadn’t already made me hyper-sensitive to this aspect of mass-consumption easy-gag films, I probably would have found them cute and not even mentioned it.

    Perhaps I’m being too hard on WALL-E in this respect, but that’s just my experience, and honestly what I noted as minor ‘nits’ during the film.

    And as far as shelf-life, I think it does matter. Some of our most treasured classic animated films certainly had some current event(or what we’d call ‘pop’) references, but 20, 30, even 50 years later, they stand the test of time and are still popular with children and adults because the bulk of the film stands on its own unique creativity.

    My point is simply that films, like Shrek, sell themselves short and diminish their legacy by taking the easy gag from another source or making the film one long commercial instead of doing something unique and creative. Making that effort, which Pixar does better at than its peers, makes for a much higher quality film that will be entertaining for generations.

    Otherwise one ends up with a film that each year loses bits and pieces of relevancy and effective entertainment as the gags atrophy.

    The best and most treasured films do hold up over time if their story and plot devices are timeless, even if their soundtracks, settings, wardrobes, etc are snapshots of a current era. I still enjoy Saturday Night Fever, and it is sorely dated.

    And yes, I know why the Mac boot up sound was there….

    But ‘Buy N Large’, WALL-E is a good flick 🙂 The kids loved it. And yes, I think WALL-E will do just fine 10 or 20 years from now, even if no one recognizes the boot-up tones.

    And my thoughts on 2001: Well, beyond its being one of my iconic favorite films from my youth, it is soooo often parodied or given tribute, I just don’t know if I can stand another not so subtle red eye or ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ snippet in another movie/TV production *laugh* There really should be a law 🙂

    Al

  8. As the mother of two young girls who LOVE to go to the movies, you know there’s a problem when they ask to go home half way through the feature. I disagree that Wall E is a huge hit–at least for children. I regret the $18 I spent to see this film. It would have been much better spent paying some bills!

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