“Wall-E” Pixar’s Little love machine
If Pixar were in the energy business we’d probably all be driving completely safe cars that ran on self-recycling water. The company thrives on outdoing itself and is constantly searching for new and greater creative challenges to overcome. In the movie business it is an anomaly-Pixar doesn’t rest on its laurels, doesn’t depend on previously existing source material (like beloved TV shows or comic books), or even its own previous work. Of the nine full length films it has produced, only one was a sequel-“Toy Story 2”-and even that film is arguably one of the company’s best.
All this helps to explain the marvel of “Wall-E.” Would any other studio have the gravitas to make a G-rated film the first 45 minutes of which contains no dialogue and that is set in a gloomy, apocalyptic future? Likewise, it seems unlikely audiences would trust another studio to handle such seemingly kid-unfriendly concepts.
Before about the halfway point when, not coincidentally, the humans show up-“Wall-E” is simply magical moviemaking in every sense. The title character, whose name stands for “Waste Allocation Load Lifters, Earth class,” is a determined little robot whose function is to gather debris, cube it and stack it into skyscraper-like columns. Brimming with personality, he finds joy in finding treasures-Rubik’s cubes, Christmas lights, and in watching “Hello Dolly.” His well-focused but solitary life radically changes when out of the sky arrives the higher-tech and more curvaceous “EVE,” (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), a beguiling ‘bot except for her programmed habit of vaporizing anything that budges.
Writer-Director Andrew Stanton (a multitalented Pixar vet) and his team again prove their expertise in visual stimuli and joyful movement. Colors and textures jump off the screen, yet every creature feels human and genuine.
When the film shifts to the conglomerate-run spaceship that was jettisoned when Earth’s mounting trash left no alternative, we are invited into a 700-years-in-the-future world of lethargic, consumer-obsessed humans. They travel in and around their spacestation city on hovercraft barcoloungers; obese in size, bereft of intellect. Pixar hasn’t shied away from subtle messages in its previous films, but “Wall-E” goes a step further by making its cautionary undertones at once obvious and striking.
It’s in these latter stages that the film feels more forced and formulaic, even with its challenging theme of the dehumanizing nature of corporate sprawl and technology run amok. This, emanating from the filmmakers’ mother company (Disney) who many would argue was the pioneer of such ideals.
But that’s the beauty of Pixar, beholden only to its own quality standards, it can still play the part of the child prodigy whose creative genius appears to have no boundaries