Wall-E

posted June 30, 2008 by Jenn

Jenn

I went to go see Wall-E yesterday morning. At the end, all I could say was "That. Was. Amazing." Every part of it was so poignant and clean and well-thought out. I haven't been this moved by a movie since Howl's Moving Castle in 2004. I hardly know where to begin.

First and foremost, if you haven't done this yet, DO NOT READ THE WIKI ABOUT THIS MOVIE!! IT SPOILS EVERYTHING! *breathe* Okay. Moving on.

This movie can be described had so many qualities: sweetness, suspense, intensity, thought-provocation, intellectual humor, slapstick humor... and they were all put together in just the right balance. ALSO! This movie did not feel like a merchandising vehicle. Sure, there's a Wall-E game already, and there will be action figures coming out in a couple of months (I think I want... THIS one) but this movie doesn't feel like it's trying to sell you these toys. It's hard to describe... the best way I could convey the feeling I get is like this: This film is a 3D animated story that is less crass-commercial-y and more artistic. There's so much more emphasis on telling a compelling story than just showing you a character making cool moves or using cool gadgets and snappy one-liners and wrapping a story around that. It's a deep and moving story and that is what carries this movie to the end.

This movie is about a robot. Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is the last functioning unit of what was an army of thousands given the thankless task of cleaning up a woefully trashed Earth after humans had abandoned it for Space 700 years prior. I know some critics have compared him to E.T., in terms of the endearment factor, but I will not, primarily because he was a human-made product. He's not an unknown that we learn about, he's a creature of our own design. Think of a robot with ASIMO's relative agility crossed with Johnny-5's self-awareness and interest in the world around him all stuffed into the body of an industrial machine. You know he's a robot just by looking at him and seeing what he does. However, you come to want to think there's an outgoing child in there somewhere. He is interested in and curious about his surroundings. He wants to connect with others and is willing to say hello. He knows what fear, embarrassment, lonliness and frustration are. Wall-E is so well scripted that you connect with him almost instantly. It won't take you but five minutes to understand and care about him.

Visuals, let's talk a bit about the visuals. Well, it's a Pixar/Disney production so it's well-done. However, the look and feel of it isn't what you'd expect, for the most part. I really love how they applied the look and feel of the modeling and animation to different parts of the movie. The parts of the movie that involve waste and decay (primarily the shots that take place on Earth, service sector areas of the space resort) are beautifully rendered with painstaking photo-realism. There is the implicatation that this is what is real and true. However, when you get into space and scenes that involve the pleasure areas of the resort, then you get into the look that Pixar is better known for, the simple shading and colors, the cartoonish-flavored realism, soft edges and smooth lines. This is the fantasy, what isn't necessarily real or true. Wall-E, however, retains his photo-realism and they blend him in without him looking out of place.

Audio. A few words about the audio. Well-matched and appropriate. That's really all I can say about the score. It was beautiful and moving, exciting and whimsical and even had a few aptly placed snippets of a 1969 musical. This isn't a soundtrack I would buy for listening to out of the context of the movie, but I don't think it was meant to be like that. As far as voice acting... About two-third's of this movie has no real dialogue. Wall-E and other robots 'talk' to each other but there's no actual dialogue. Any dialogue would have distracted from the action and it's amazing how much you can get from a scene when nothing at all is said. There were only two names in the voice actor list I knew... Sigourney Weaver and John Ratzenberger, neither of whom show up until about halfway through the movie or have major parts in the movie. Wall-E is voiced by a relative voice-acting unknown... Ben Burtt, a sound engineer who worked on many movies doing sound effects and voice effects, starting as early as Star Wars (1977). I found myself oddly pleased to find out that one of the main character robot 'voices' was done with MacInTalk, a text-to-speech program found on Apple computers from early '90s. I had it on my Mac laptop at the time and it was a lesson in phonetics trying to get it to say what you wanted properly. There are a couple other nods to Mac based sounds in the movie, but it's best to allow them to be discovered.

Okay! So, in closing, GO SEE IT. Not now, but RIGHT NOW. This is a movie that is for everyone, but in the truest sense. It's not a kid's movie so much as it's an everyone movie. I think everyone can get something out of this movie; kids will appreciate the action and the characters and the story premise, adults will appreciate the messages and thought put into it, along with all else. This will undoubtedly become an addition to my DVD menagerie once it comes out. Definitely.

I am giving Wall-E 4, count 'em, 4 cupcakes. This movie requires no mind-altering vices to watch. Seriously, don't do it. You'll only miss stuff.

Rating: 4.0 cupcake