Friday, June 27, 2008

My WALL-E Review

I saw WALL-E. I loved WALL-E. It not only was the best movie of the year and a shoe-in at the Oscars, but it was the best sci-fi movie I've seen in a long time, and it was one of the best animated features I've seen in a long time. It had charm, romance, action, mystery, comedy, suspense, morals, and a cute little robot that you couldn't help but fall in love with. I'd easily give it a 10 out of 10.

At the beginning, it is obvious that Pixar realizes you aren't stupid. They don't have a cheesy narrator or a sassy talking animal voiced by Wanda Sykes that tells you whats happening. You must use your observation and inferring skills to determine what's going on, which is what a movie should do. There's almost no dialogue throughout the entire movie, especially during the first half. Due to the fact that there is virtually no dialogue, it gives the movie a certain charm, a certain cool, that no one else could get away with but Pixar.

The main character is a cute little robot named WALL-E. The humans forgot to switch him off when they all abandoned the toxic, trash-infested planet of Earth. WALL-E has been cleaning up trash for hundreds of years. While he does his job, which is to clean up the human's garbage one cube at a time, he collects a bunch of knick-knacks and organizes them in his small garage. His only companion is a small roach named Hal, and his only form of entertainment or fun is
watching Hello, Dolly!.

One thing that keeps coming up in
WALL-E is the movie Hello, Dolly!. In fact, that is what leads to one of the first major plot points in WALL-E. While WALL-E watches Hello, Dolly!, you start to realize how incredibly lonely and lost WALL-E feels in the huge, abandoned world. Later in the movie when EVE joins WALL-E in his garage, there is a funny sequence where WALL-E begins to mimick the choreography of Hello, Dolly! whilst it plays on his make-shift iPod-television. Very entertaining.

WALL-E is an audio and visual feast for the eyes and ears. It shows fantastic landscapes of garbage skyscrapers and gives you a glimpse of the gargantuan space ships. You can hear the talents of Ben Burtt as hundreds of different robots each make their unique blip or bleep, or when the rocket barrels past our familiar solar system at unimaginable speeds. Oh no, WALL-E does not disappoint the senses at all. Also, as if its not enough, you get a moral along with it. Throughout the movie, humans are shown being extremely dependent on technology in every single aspect of their lives. But, eventually, WALL-E brings them all back to the now-habitable Earth and the humans become self-reliant.

Another aspect of
WALL-E that I loved was the short that preceded it. Presto was extremely entertaining, funny, and just flat out amazing. It was about as good as WALL-E was, but much shorter. I'd also easily give Presto a 10 out of 10. There is no dialogue, as with the other Pixar shorts, and it fits a lot of character development and plotting into a short snippet of time. The slightly Portal (the video game) based short's premise was that there was a rabbit and a magician. The magician had two hats. When one thing goes into one hat, it comes out of the other and vice versa (just like the blue and the orange portals in Portal). The rabbit is supposed to have one of the hats on while the magician is on stage so that the magician can pull the rabbit out of his hat, but there is a problem: the rabbit hasn't been fed. Next, hilarity insues as the rabbit uses his portal to the stage to sabotage the magician who hasn't fed the malnourished rabbit. It has a good score and good animation to top it all off.

I would highly recommend that you go and see
WALL-E right this instant. It may not, however, have mass appeal as the other Pixar movies do. This is mainly due to the fact that you need some intellectual capacity to "get" WALL-E, and a lot of people are, well, not too bright. But, hey, if you really hate WALL-E, at least you'll love Presto, which appeals to everyone (someone sticking their finger in an electrical socket is always funny).

So, now you know. WALL-E is an audio and visual feast for the eyes and ears. It is packed full with mystery, love, intrigue, comedy, charm, action, and a cute little robot. It is classy and cool due to its lack of dialogue and need for audience observation. And, to top it all off, it has a truly spectacular short to watch before the movie begins.

Now turn off your computer and go see WALL-E! Or, if you can't, read this interview with Andrew Stanton and at least get a taste of what you're missing.

Or, if you don't like to read a lot, click on the image below or on this link. It brings to a fake site for the Buy-n-Large company. This is the fictitious company that made WALL-E, as well as all of the other robots, etc. The site was a viral campaign. You will find a ton of stuff if you just click around, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of easter eggs on that site. You can spend hours just clicking around, trust me, I did just that.

Andrew Stanton Interview about WALL-E:

Is WALL-E a departure for Pixar?

"We're always trying to be different with every movie. We're a director-driven studio and we're trying to encourage and support the (director's) vision so that every film will be unique, and have its own taste and slant.

"I knew this was more of a major unconventional film, even when we just had the character conceit in 1994 and nothing else. As artists, we thought that (WALL-E's concept) was the coolest thing, but the next sentence was ‘Nobody would ever let us do that’ and we put it away.

“And I’m glad that happened because I think it took 14 years for the technology to be better, for us to be better filmmakers, and for the audience to trust us enough.

“The big drive with (Pixar's first film, 1995's) Toy Story wasn’t ‘this is CGI.’ It was ‘It doesn’t have to be a musical, it doesn’t have to be a fairy tale, it can be something else.’ And so we’re way more proud that Toy Story is the type of movie that it is – the way the story is told, the manner of which it’s shot – than the fact that we used computers.

“I don’t go to a live-action movie thinking that it’s going to have a cop chase, or a long melodramatic scene. I don’t think that way and I don’t know why people do that when you’re using the medium of animation. It’s still just a movie: what’s the story, what’s it about, and how is the best way to tell it?

Do you think it’s because people always think of animation as being for children?

“Which nobody ever did at Pixar thought, from Day One, which is why I think it’s so good here.

“I don’t mean this in a negative way, but I don’t think of the audience at all, because I don’t go to see a movie hoping the filmmaker’s second-guessed what I want. I go to see what he wants, because I like his taste and style, and I want to see what he’s going to do next.

“The day we start thinking about what the audience wants, we’re going to make bad choices. We’ve always holed ourselves up in a building for 4 years and ignored the rest of the world, because nobody are bigger movie geeks than we are, so we know exactly what we are dying to see with our family and kids. We don’t need other people to tell us that. We trust the audience member in ourselves.”

How did you get the film Hello, Dolly in there?

“Isn’t that just the oddest choice ever? I’m going to get asked about that for the rest of my life (laughs).

“I originally used 1930’s French Swing music; I wanted old against the new. And then The Triplets of Belleville came out and I went, ‘I don’t want to look like I’m copying.’ I’m kinda glad that happened because it forced me to look harder and it broadened my scope.

“And so I looked at Broadway musicals, and I stumbled across Hello Dolly. I had done musical theatre in high school, and one of the standards is Hello Dolly. And I heard that phrase ‘out there’ in the song "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" and it was a complete gutteral (sic) aesthetic choice: ‘Out there!’ and then you cut to stars, and it just worked.

"And then I realized why it was working for me: because it’s about these two young guys, stuck in a small town, who just want to sneak away for a day, and have a life, and kiss a girl. And I thought, ‘That’s WALL-E!’ So, you’re going to meet WALL-E’s hopes, dreams, and soul in Frame One before you ever meet him.

“And then I found the song "It Only Takes a Moment" and then I looked at the movie footage, and I saw the two lovers holding hands. That was a big ‘Ah-ha!’ moment for me, because I have a character who can’t actually say ‘I love you’ but he can express it by holding hands. And when you get a gift like that from an initial inspiration, you take it as fate. So I ran with it (laughs).”

I’ve noticed both your movies, Finding Nemo and WALL-E, are quest films –

“There’s always a certain element of the quest in any story. In my mind, WALL-E’s a love story and Nemo’s a father-son love story so there are some similarities in that respect."

One of the big ideas I noticed in WALL-E was people making contact, whether it was WALL-E holding hands with EVE, or when the two humans accidentally touch.

“That was my theme: irrational love defeats life’s programming. And that was what these two characters were doing. They were literally programmed, and the irrationality of WALL-E suddenly having a soul and being able to care, would have an effect on everything else.

"We’re starting to be in a society where you’re able to distract yourself so quickly and so easily, and not have to do the real tough, but satisfying job of making contact with the person next to you and pushing relationships forward, which are messy and they don’t go as planned. But that’s the real reason you’re on this planet.

"So I thought, (using the metaphor of holding hands) was the best way to portray that thematically with everything else going on in the background. Because for me, the main story was just these two characters (WALL-E and EVE).”

What were some other inspirations? The title character felt very Chaplin-esque to me.

“We knew we were going into pantomime territory. We’re always going into pantomime with any of our movies, I don’t care how talky it is. If you go to any of our movies and turn the sound off, you’ll see us struggling to convey the story with the visuals, the actions, and the posing. So, we've taken a layer off, to allow you to appreciate that more.

“But it does create a void where all the other aspects of filmmaking – the music, the lighting, the camera work – have to raise their game and help in the story-telling.”

Some critics are going to argue, ‘the protagonist doesn’t have any dial


“To which I would argue, he talks throughout the entire movie!”


lo llaguter said...
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I've not seen a short film produced by Disney Pixar in the last 20 years as touching as this one. I never had cried so much as I did it in this film.
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