WALL·E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)


[Voices] Ben Burtt (WALL·E), Elissa Knight (EVE). Screenplay by Jim Reardon and Andrew Stanton. Directed by Andrew Stanton. Rating: U. Running time:  98 minutes.

Talk about ambition. This is quite a remarkable effort from Pixar. WALL·E is not packed with delightful character after character like most of the production company’s animated gems, instead opting for just the two. Nor is it dialogue driven, instead being almost Space Odyssey-esque in both its lack of script and futuristic space-oriented sets. The best comparison I can give is to imagine something like Star Wars with only C3-PO and R2-D2 to take us through Lucas’ vision, and then water down their fluency in English. It would be absurd, and WALL·E similarly looks like it just has to fail. But it doesn’t. In fact, it’s excellent. And I have absolutely no idea why.

Well, that’s a bit of a lie. I do have some idea, even if I’m struggling to work out just why it works so well. For starters, Pixar have managed to make what is, to all intents and purposes, a mechanical robotic bin-man both an emotion-conveying and solemn-looking creature, and that in itself is some achievement. There’s also the fact that, despite being based predominantly in either the darkness of space or the dullness of rubbish-laden earth, WALL·E still overloads us with Pixar’s trademark bold colours through WALL·E’s own apartment – packed with rubik’s cubes and christmas lights – and the vividness of the life humans have resigned themselves to on faraway spaceships, which seems simultaneously an indictment of commercialism and the digitalisation of life, set to the backdrop of a primarily ecological tale.

This is an incredibly abstract vision for the makers of children’s films. WALL·E is even almost a silent picture. But, as I said, it somehow works a treat, as an animated sci-fi adventure with a delightfully odd dash of romance and self-discovery for its protagonists. It’s impossible to compare something like this to Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 3 or any other Pixar film. It really does do something completely different. But, at a minimum, it gets full marks for creativity, being more original than any other animated film in history.

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