Intergalactic Planatar-E – WALL-E DVD review

WALL-E – Starring Ben Burtt, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Garlin and Fred Willard. Directed by Andrew Stanton. Rated G. 98 mins.

*WALL-E is released on DVD January 14th. To celebrate, here is our original review published Sep 22nd.*

WALL-E has not met a single human being in his 700 years of existence. He has spent his days tottering around an abandoned planet Earth, cleaning up the skyscraper-tall piles of garbage left behind. Humanity, whose consumption grew to a level that could not be sustained on the once green planet, threw up their hands and shouted ‘we give up!’ They embarked on a five-year space voyage, during which time robots were left behind to clean up. It seems five years was a little too optimistic. The latest entry in the Pixar stable is a modern classic – both an animated thrill ride, and a chilling tale of lost humanity. It takes the regular Pixar formula (although to call it a formula is an insult to their ingenuity), and amps it up beyond our wildest expectations. Let’s face it: each of their films have grossed around half a billion dollars. They didn’t need to challenge themselves. Thank God they did.

WALL-E is the single most adorable character that’s probably ever been on film (‘voiced’ amazingly by legendary sound engineer Ben Burtt). He’s just a simple, trash-compacting little robot whose one directive is to clean up the garbage on Earth. But even a robot can tell that not everything is garbage. Some of this stuff meant something to someone, even if it was a long time ago. So he goes about collecting treasures like lighters, Christmas decorations and even cutlery. His prized possession is an old copy of Hello Dolly, which he watches repeatedly; particularly entranced by the action of humans holding hands. Of course, he’s all alone. He can only hold his own.

His solitary existence is finally interrupted by a sleek, iPod-looking robot named EVE. Sent to Earth to find out if it can sustain life, she has little time for the swooning WALL-E’s romantic gestures. However, even she finds it hard to resist his awkward charm, and he’s soon showing her his booty (relax, I’m talking about his treasures. Geez, grow up.) Amongst them is a solitary plant, proof that Earth may be ready to welcome back humans. But are humans the same after 700 years in space?

The first half of WALL-E is some of the most amazing cinema I’ve ever seen. The opening shots of the desolate Earth are heart-stopping, and heart-breaking. This is not the kind of abandoned-Earth you would imagine in a kid’s film. WALL-E shows a more terrifying Earth than I Am Legend and Beyond Thunderdome combined. Famed cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James) was an advisor here, and you can tell.

Director Andrew Stanton really shows his chops in the second half of the film, when WALL-E and EVE head to The Axiom – the spaceship that is now home to humanity. People have de-volved into fatally obese automatons. Everyone has their own floating couch, which provides them with food, drink, and I can only assume, umm, love. This is the result of the merger of corporations and government. The CEO of Buy N Large (read: Wal-Mart) has become a President of sorts, and humanity’s existence is the result of every need and want being met to the nth degree. It’s a particularly chilling vision of the future, mainly because it’s not so crazy. On a time line of 700 years? Yeah, in fact, that seems like a pretty realistic hypothesis.

I only hope people enjoy WALL-E as much as I did. It’s the most intelligent film I’ve seen all year, and one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made. Most impressive is the portrayal of the humans – they aren’t stupid, just happy their most base needs are being met. What’s most confronting about this film (yes, WALL-E is confronting), is that it is ourselves who are to blame for this futuristic hellscape. There is no big villain responsible for all this horror – it was us. Thankfully, the film doesn’t patronise us like certain other environmentally-concerned animations (cough Happy Feet cough). It’s not a condemnation of mankind – it’s a reminder of everything worth holding onto.

I’m not going to lie here, I found myself tearing up on more than one occasion during the film. Even later the same evening, when writing notes about it, I felt the same tears begin to well up again. There are images and moments in this film I will never forget, and some I wish I could carry around with me all the time, just like WALL-E and his Hello, Dolly recordings. To call this the best film of the year is a pretty big deal. To call it the best Pixar movie is even bigger. But really, that isn’t even an accurate scale to grade this film. It’s bigger than all of that. This is a work of art that is both about the importance of humanity, and PROOF of the importance of humanity.

Before I finish up, I’ve got to address a major pet peeve of my own: robots with feelings. It was my one apprehension before heading to see WALL-E. However, the idea of a robot developing a personality based on the ‘garbage’ of humanity is so beautiful. WALL-E represents what is most important about Earth – and exactly what was left behind. Hard-work, creativity, friendship, romance. In the end, amongst all the drama, and action, and adventure on the way to bringing people back to Earth – WALL-E is the only one who appreciates the simple pleasures. He just wants to hold EVE’s hand.


Check the trailer out here

2 Responses to “Intergalactic Planatar-E – WALL-E DVD review”

  1. This is on my must do list..

  2. After watching this with the kids, I felt really bad that I DROVE to the cinema to see it when we could have ridden our bikes.

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