Pixar’s film WALL - E is nothing short of a miracle in light and sound. The vision of this film is so complete, so breathtaking, and so touching that it is easily the best film I’ve seen so far this year.
WALL-E tells the story of Wall-E, a robot left behind to clean up Earth after mankind leaves it in a heap of trash, and who, 700 years later, is the last robot (presumably) left on the planet. One day, a probe droid named EvE comes to Earth on a spaceship, searching for any signs of life, and Wall-E becomes smitten with her. What follows is a love story, pure and simple, with Wall-E’s pursuit of EvE forming the emotional core of the film. There are other plot threads, of course, as well as a timely message about environmentalism that grows organically from the story and never feels forced or ham-fisted.
Visually, the film is gorgeous, with crisp lines and breathtaking animation. It’s another high watermark for Pixar, of which I would expect no less. Pixar has continually pushed the boundaries of the medium’s possibilities, and they construct a world around one different aspect to improve each time (for FINDING NEMO, it was water effects, for CARS, it was lighting.) WALL-E, at least to my eye, is all about particles and textures; things blowing in the wind, or dust sitting on a robot’s metal structure. There are times when Wall-E looks so life-like and realistic it might be possible just to reach our your hand and touch him. And the effects are superb. One scene in particular - with Wall-E running his hand through the dust and particles of a planet’s ring while riding on a spaceship - comes to mind as a prime example of everything this film does right in its animation.
On top of the technical achievements, writer-director Andrew Stanton (FINDING NEMO) has crafted a beautiful and touching story about loneliness and the redemptive quality of love. Pixar has always been a studio that cares first and foremost about the story, and it has always shown through in their work. The saga of Wall-E and EvE is definitely center-stage here, framed by a similarly themed book-ending of sequences and songs from the musical HELLO, DOLLY! All of this heart is achieved with minimal dialogue, and brilliant sound design that never ever loses the viewer’s attention.
In this regard, and although completely different in story, tone and character, WALL-E inhabits the same cinematic space as Paul Thomas Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD as an exercise in classical Hollywood storytelling. WALL-E is engaging, funny, heartfelt and sincere. It rides on the strength of its protagonist, and it’s a very enjoyable and often magical ride that I can’t wait to let wash over me again and again.