Only two weeks ago, I saw Dreamworks’ big animated release for this year, Kung Fu Panda. And it was a damn entertaining watch. Funny, exciting, with gorgeous character designs, I thought it would be the best of the CGI films of this year. That was, until I witnessed the pure joy that is Pixar’s WALL-E.
Set in the distant future, Earth has been abandoned due to the planet becoming overrun with garbage produced by the corporation, Buy N Large. Every human has abandoned the planet to live on large interstellar luxury liners. Left on earth are robots, Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class or WALL-E. The last of these robots is our titular hero. He spends his days compacting rubbish. However, whenever he finds a trinket he is fascinated by, he keeps it. Years of isolation have led to this one robot to develop a personality. He loves musicals, is mesmerised by the simplest of trinkets and has a cockroach friend. One day, a ship lands on Earth and drops of EVE, a feminine robot tasked with doing reconnaissance on Earth. WALL-E is immediately infatuated with her and after a few aborted introductions, they become close. But EVE’s mission is a success and she is recovered by her mother ship. And WALL-E does everything he can to rescue his love.
There’s so much right with WALL-E, it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, the film looks gorgeous. From the character designs to the production designs and cinematography, there’s not one frame of WALL-E that isn’t worthy of a poster by itself. WALL-E’s design is pretty basic, he’s a box with a head, arms and treads. But in the hands of the Pixar animators, he bursts with personality. The first thirty minutes of the film are dialogue free. This time is mainly spent with WALL-E exploring and discovering. And had the film continued this way, I’d have been perfectly happy! But then, this is a narrative film, so story had to take precedence. It’s a testament to the quality of animation that this simple act of exploration is so compelling. But maybe that’s just the animator in me wanting to see more!
It would have been very interesting if the team behind WALL-E had let the entire film go without a single human character or line of dialogue. Sure, WALL-E has little words to say now and again, but for the most part, everything is conveyed in gesture. And every emotion and thought is perfectly clear. When the humans do appear, the film takes a knock. While it’s an obvious route to have to go down, it’s just a shame that it needed to be done. I cant see any reason why anyone wouldn’t engage with the personality of WALL-E and his love story with EVE. We didn’t need the human characters in the film.
While it’s all well and good to gush endlessly about how impressive the technical aspects of the film are, it wouldn’t be a film without a story. After all, WALL-E is essentially a love story, and makes no apology for it. It’s a pretty heart-warming love story too. WALL-E is such a compassionate and dedicated character that it’s difficult not to be turned into a blubbering mess when watching him. In fact, it’s easy to say that if you aren’t won over by the character, it’s proof you were born without a soul.
There’s no real point in going on with this review. WALL-E’s a brilliant film, and while it doesn’t have the laugh ratio of Kung Fu Panda, it’s just a better movie. It’s one of Pixar’s best, and something all involved with should be very very proud of. As an animator, it’s a stunning piece of work and proves that you can put personality to anything, no matter how organic or inorganic it is. As a film fan, it’s a touching, warm, gorgeous film.