Tuesday, February 19, 2013

WALL-E Movie Review

Back in 1994, four movie writers had met together for lunch. They included Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft. Pixar's Toy Story was nearing completion and the writers were brainstorming ideas for their next big projects. From this lunch meeting, came the ideas for what later became Pixar classics; A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo. Stanton came up with the idea of mankind leaving the earth and forgetting to turn off the last robot. Thus the preliminary ideas for WALL-E (2008) were born.
The year is 2700, and planet Earth has long been uninhabitable. For hundreds of years, a robot called WALL-E (Ben Burtt), has been taking out the trash, and collecting precious knick-knacks in order to stave off the boredom of his dreary routine. Little does WALL-E realize that his recent discovery, a small plant, could make the ravaged planet safe for all humankind. One day a highly advanced search robot EVE (Elissa Knight) arrives on earth and WALL-E falls in love. EVE realizes the value of WALL-E's remarkable discovery and she excitedly races back to let the humans know that there's hope for their home planet after all. After centuries alone on earth, WALL-E can't stand the thought of losing the only love he's ever known. He eagerly follows her into the deepest reaches of space to a space resort cruise ship which holds all the humans who evacuated earth 700 years ago. Humans have become so lazy and fat from their own listlessness they can barely move on their own. For reasons unknown, the ship's auto pilot attempts to destroy the plant WALL-E and EVE have returned with. They have to recover the plant and get it to The Captain (Jeff Garlin) before it's too late.
WALL-E is one of the most innovative movies that have come along in some time. For starters, it's essentially a silent film. Yes, there are some voice actors credited, but apart from The Captain most of the characters voices are synthesized sound effects based on actor's voices. Ben Burt is a notorious sound designer who worked on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series. He's most notable for creating the "voice" of R2-D2, the lightsaber hum, the sounds of the blaster guns, and the heavy-breathing sound of Darth Vader. The "voices" for the robot characters were similar to R2-D2; digital whirring and beeping sounds that occasionally resemble human speech enough to say their own name. That alone sounds incredible, but the other subtle detail in sound effects is phenomenal as well! The sound effects don't quite sound as musical as Kung Fu Panda 2 did, but the sounds are so spot on that it's hard to ignore.
Pixar consistently outdoes itself in terms of animation, and WALL-E was no different. The detail in the sets was stunning; you could pause the movie at any point and that one shot would look gorgeous. Where the animation really shines is in the robotic characters. As mentioned, this is essentially a silent film and most of the characters use body language and robotic sounds to communicate and express themselves. Even though WALL-E only chirps, beeps, and whirrs, you still get a feel for what he is thinking and expressing. His movements are adorably cute and full of curiosity. It cannot adequately be expressed how remarkably expressive these basically mute characters are. Here is a television promotional clip for the WALL-E movie to illustrate how expressive the character is without words:

The themes in WALL-E made the story and characters all the more compelling. WALL-E features a strong passion versus apathy theme. The humans have become listless, lazy, and apathetic about everything from work to entertainment to social interaction. All the human characters are flooded with televised broadcasts and video chats and they bemoan the fact that they are bored. They are told what to think and enjoy through advertisements, and consume resources because they have nothing better to do. On the other hand, the artificial intelligences are highly passionate and excited about everything. WALL-E is highly curious and filled with wonder in each new experience he has. EVE is firmly dedicated to her primary directive. Even random background robots are passionate about what they do. The humans have had little-to-no physical contact with other people (communicating exclusively through video chat), while WALL-E and EVE are passionately in love with each other. There's also a strong message about personal responsibility, environmental awareness in an industrialized society, and the environmental impact of consumerism. Those are certainly reasonable things to think about, but WALL-E doesn't cram a "Go green" message down your throat.
With amazing animation, gorgeous Foley art and sound effects, adorable, lovable characters, a charming sense of nostalgia, and an excellent, relatable theme, there really isn't anything negative that I can say about this Disney Pixar classic. I saw this in theaters no less than three times, I loved it so much. I own a copy of it on Blue-Ray, and I don't know how many times I've seen it since then. I highly recommend this movie. It's amazing how much story is told through so little dialogue. It's even a sweet romantic movie as well. Viewers of any age will find something to adore in WALL-E. This is worth owning your own copy of.

Do you have a favorite movie robot? WALL-E is high up on my list. What's your favorite movie robot? Comment below and tell me why!

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