Wall-E

            I do not believe that I have ever seen the words ‘Pixar’ and ‘bad’ in the same sentence. The studio’s output over the last 20 years, from their short films to their features, have been consistently well above par, with many of their films becoming instant classics upon release. Indeed, if a Pixar film is not an instant classic people are not just disappointed but shocked that this studio would produce something sub-standard.

            Fortunately their latest offering comes into former classic category. ‘Wall-E’ follows the story of a refuse collecting robot, the last robot on Earth, who has been left to clean up the mess made by human beings who float around the galaxy waiting for the planet to be habitable again. However, Wall-E’s daily routine is turned upside down when a strange robot called EVE arrives on Earth. This does not sound like a Pixar plot, nor does it start like one. This film opens in relative silence with Wall-E cleaning up and going about his regular business. The film does eventually descend into the trademark shenanigans and adventures that we have come to love from Pixar, but the opening deserves some more page space.

            There are few films where you think, ‘Wow, that was a truly amazing opening. The rest is going to be great’. ‘Wall-E’ is one of these with its subtle nods towards ‘2001 Space Odyssey’. Everything from the sad string based music to the wastelands of Earth covered with signs from the omnipresent ‘Big’n’Large Company’ makes the opening of this film quite different from any animated feature I have seen. It is dark, foreboding and certainly not child friendly. The desolate piles of rubbish scattered with ‘dead’ Wall-E units makes for a truly sinister picture. This vision of distopia strikes a chord deep inside of you, and makes wonder if Pixar have quite hit the mark.

But they have. With the picture set, the focus shifts to our hero. As the last robot on Earth, Wall-E is a solitary and rather sad little machine. The fact that the robots in the film speak in beeps and blips forces the animators and audiences to watch the movements; everything from their fingers and heads turns to the inflections of the eyes, or optical devices. Each tiny tilt and shuffle suggests more than dialogue ever could and parallels are already being drawn between the heroes and figures of silent cinema history like Charlie Chaplin. Someone mentioned a likeness to Woody Allen in another review. The slightly self-sorry feel comes out of Wall-E, peering from behind his eyes like Allen does from those trademark glasses. Scenes where he sifts through junk for his own treasures really brings out this comparative quality.

But it is not all doom and gloom for this film, otherwise it just would not be a Pixar film. The scenes inside Wall-E’s home bring a real magic to the film. The wide eyed love of all things human brings, well, a real human quality to the refuse collecting unit and the audience partakes in the nostalgia and wonder of this cave of wonders. For a character only ever speaks three English words, he is more fleshed out and loveable than millions of other characters I have ever seen.

Once again, Pixar’s animation is flawless. The reason that this studio is a cut above the rest is because they have a handle on gravity, shading, weight distribution; the list is endless. And it is because of their absolute grasp of animation physics that you really get lost in this world and allows you to truly commit to the story. Watching Wall-E and his love interest EVE (yes, robots can have love interests even if they can’t speak to each other) dancing through space propelled by sonic engines and a fire extinguisher is utterly joyful. And although a lot has been said about the Earth scenes already, its look of dust and rust is pitch perfect. The floating, hand-held feel of the camera in the Earth scenes is totally unexpected and perfectly executed allowing a different feel from the normal huge sweep or utterly still camera points of earlier films.

It would be easy to write a book about the wonders of this film. The fact is that I do not want to give too much away about any of it because every moment is either filled with childlike wonderment or poignant adult sincerity. Pixar have made a film that all the family can actually enjoy. If you do not see this while it is in cinemas then I do not think that you can go to bed happy this year. Wall-E is an instant classic, a must see and piece of cinema history. Go now!  

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