For a movie that has almost no dialogue during its first half, WALL•E manages to be thoroughly captivating in both its spot-on humor and endearing characters.
Andrew Stanton, director of such previous Pixar films as Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life, has finally brought his long-in-development character of WALL•E to life, and the little robot doesn’t disappoint.
Pixar’s newest release follows the adventures of WALL•E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter • Earth-Class), a robot who appears to have developed a personality during his several-hundred-year life of solitude on Earth.
As his name implies, WALL•E has spent his time compacting the inordinate amounts of waste left on Earth by humans and their unending obsession with consumerism and products (maybe this is hinting at something?).
In an effort to save the human race, the corporation responsible for this environmental downturn, not surprisingly named Buy n Large, created the Axiom, a gigantic spaceship designed as a sort of an end-all-be-all in the world of lazy cruises.
With the humans gone, robots remained to clean the Earth. However, the viewer is left to speculate as to what might have happened to leave WALL•E as the sole enduring robot.
Shortly after the audience joins WALL•E on one of his typical (and poignantly funny) weeks, an unknown spacecraft drops off a surprising, somewhat mysterious, visitor.
EVE, as she eventually introduces herself, is a significantly advanced and fairly violent robot intent on accomplishing her directive. WALL•E sees past her penchant for destruction, and for him, it is love at first sight.
EVE eventually warms to WALL•E’s quirky antics and display of human emotion. However, the sudden appearance of EVE’s sought-after item cuts their visit short, and the spaceship returns to take EVE back.
Afraid she will never return, a smitten WALL•E chases after her, as he starts perhaps his greatest journey and the viewer finally hears the first instance of a human voice in the film.
Despite its underlying premise, the film is far from a preachy nod to environmentalism, and the more engaging love story takes front stage. It is amazing how much chemistry can exist between two animated, non-speaking (for the most part) robots, but the sounds “spoken” between WALL•E and EVE convey more emotion than three-fourths of the movie-couples shown on screen this summer.
Much of this is thanks to the combined effort of the animators, sound designer Ben Burtt (WALL•E) and voice-actress Elissa Knight (EVE). Burtt, responsible for creating the blips and bloops of R2-D2 in Star Wars, along with many other famous sounds, superbly crafted WALL•E’s dialogue from mechanical noises, and the result is thoroughly entertaining and uniquely catchy.
The expressive and sleek animation from Pixar complements the so-called robot voices, making it easy for the audience to empathize with the main characters.
Furthermore, the impressive score from the dependable Thomas Newman (The Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty) correspondingly enhances each and every scene on the screen.
The main detractor from WALL•E is the short running time (97 minutes) of the film. The last half of the movie felt slightly rushed, most likely caused by the thrilling nature of the final act.
However, longer screen time for WALL•E’s comically cute cockroach earth-friend and more interaction between WALL•E and other robots would have been gladly welcomed.
Film length aside, WALL•E is the first incredibly enjoyable film this summer that successfully appeals to both children and adults. Covering all of its bases with drama, action and comedy, the movie has a little bit of everything and even conveys an important moral for contemporary society.
With so many blockbusters being released this summer, make sure to find some time for WALL•E, and don’t forget to show up early for the hilarious short, Presto.