| Pixar Animation Studios has earned the reputation as a trailblazer in cutting-edge digital animation cinema. They have pushed the envelope too far in this simplistic robotic love story.
The most anticipated and hyped summer movie turns out to be a dud with a thin and shaky premise. This is not your typical children’s movie. It doesn’t have the same warm and fuzzy feeling associated with the toys, fish, monsters, superheroes and culinary rats from previous Pixar productions.
Relying upon purely visual storytelling, the filmmakers have given us a virtual “silent” film that is about 85 percent dialogue-free. This movie will appeal primarily to science fiction geeks who can furnish their own oohs and ahs.
Writer-director Andrew Stanton has patched together a screenplay that pays homage to his list of favorite films – “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Alien,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Blade Runner,” “Tron” and “Star Wars.”
This ambitious futuristic space adventure is set in the year 2810. An uninhabitable Earth is reduced to rubble and mountains of trash. Nobody bothered to shut off the last remaining solar-charged trash compacting robot.
WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is built to handle garbage disposal and has been toiling at this thankless task for 700 years. He has developed a personality and collects knick knacks in a lunchbox.
His favorite possession is a VHS tape of the 1969 movie version of “Hello, Dolly!” His two favorite songs played repeatedly throughout this movie are “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and “It Only Takes a Moment.”
He realizes he is lonely and craves companionship. His definition of love is holding hands with someone. His most outstanding feature is binocular-style eyes. He makes strange mechanical noises (created by four-time Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt, who previously provided similar beeps, crackles and chirps emanating from R2-D2) that are intended to be funny.
His dull existence is changed forever when a spaceship lands and drops off a sleek probe with a shiny white exterior and blue eyes named EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). It is love at first sight. She is on a classified mission to determine if life is sustainable so that recolonization can occur.
When she returns to the Axiom, the enormous luxury ship that houses thousands of displaced humans, WALL-E follows her.
A very slow beginning elicits yawns from boredom rather than laughs. It takes almost 40 minutes before the first human being appears with a speaking part.
John (the voice of Pixar’s good luck charm John Ratzenberger) is portrayed as a fat mound of blubber lying in a reclining position drinking a soda from a straw. The obese humans are celebrating the 700th anniversary of a five-year luxury cruise. They have been in a state of limbo enjoying a pampered, leisurely existence. Their bodies have atrophied from disuse and the effects of zero gravity. They are unable to stand and walk on two feet.
The unintended byproduct of this bloated cartoon is the socially conscious environmental message about the fragility of the ecosystem. It stresses stewardship responsibilities and the necessity of conservation measures.
This animated feature film could serve as a companion piece to Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” It should be applauded for raising awareness levels and forcing us to take steps now to save our planet. It makes you think about our dwindling natural resources and the over-reliance on fossil-fuel pollutants and technology.
The villain in this movie is the Buy n Large Corporation, a massive global entity that controls the universe.
Since green is in vogue now, this little junkyard robot could be the poster child to spearhead a campaign for more disciplined consumer spending.
The movie is preceded by the cartoon “Presto.” It is about a mischievous bunny rabbit deprived of a carrot that gets revenge by ruining a magician’s stage act. It is cleverly conceived and very funny. It is far superior to the main attraction and delivers a lot more belly laughs.
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"