It’s been out for ages in the States and it’s finally about to hit UK shores, the most anticipated robot since rumour first spread of the first TERMINATOR movie, it’s WALL.E. We all know the premise, it’s 700 years in the future and mankind has fled the earth, leaving it covered in gunk, completely uninhabitable. Originally a fleet of small robots were left to do the cleanup operation but when it became clear this wouldn’t work they were all turned off… except for one. In all this time alone Wall.E has developed some quirks, he’s become very curious and, as you might expect, very lonely. But this all changes when a probe named EVE is deposited nearby and Wall.E falls in love.
If you’ve missed the hype surrounding this one then you’ve probably been cryogenically frozen for several decades, in which case: FREEZE YOURSELF AGAIN, RECESSION IS LOOMING. But before you do, watch this move. Ray’s argument a few weeks back that WALL.E is worthy for the best film Oscar was right on the money, this is certainly the best film of the year so far, hell it’s even one of the best of the last five years. Why? I hear you ask. Well aside form the usual stuff you can read in every single one of the reviews available in the vastness of cyberspace, there are some superbly thought through aspects of the film which make it so special.
Firstly, it’s core message. Everyone has noticed and most people have praised the fact that, unlike many Dreamworks contemporaries (KUNG FU PANDA et al) WALL.E and the rest of the Pixar creations have at their heart a very real and very important message, in this case take ownership of the planet. But this alone isn’t enough to make the film special. What makes WALL.E stand out is that it doesn’t talk down from an ivory tower, there is no glimmer of accusation or of desperation; it is a message of hope, pure and simple. The people in the film aren’t shown as bad, or even as lazy. They’re just doing what they’re supposed to do. And as soon as they’re confronted with a real challenge, sparked to life by a real glimmer of hope, they all pitch in and start to rise to it. Even the massive corporation Buy ‘n’ Large, whilst clearing wrong, isn’t painted as evil per se, they try and fix the planet, they build the ships and make everything easy for people. It’s not that anyone is bad, just that the system clearly isn’t working. So we’re left with no pontification, no didactic whining, just positivity and hope. Brilliant.
Secondly, there’s the whole universality of communication embodied in the wordless narrative that fills a majority of the movie. Conveying the broad range of emotions contained within the wonderful characters populating the screen (most viscerally in Wall.E and Eve) is truly a marvellous achievement, but there are some great little touches which make the film not just totally engaging, but hilarious too. The ‘voice’ of each robot fits its character perfectly, it’s not just Wall.E and Eve whose beeps and bleeps mould so well to their image, but the whole host of other automatons from M-O to AUTO were spot on. Then there’s little details like the administrative robot Wall.E encounters whilst pursuing Eve on board the Axiom, whose wingle peering eye encapsulates the role perfectly, and whose keyboard covered in dozens of keys all bearing either a ’0′ or a ’1′ is just genius. Even the use of the Mac noise when Wall.E is recharged is inspired.
And finally, there’s the short that comes before the film. So little has been commented about PRESTO and it’s just not fair. Nothing could’ve put me in a better mood than this old-school cartoon about a magician and his rabbit, it’s so funny, so cleverly drawing on the old traditions of Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny that you cant help but shake your head in apprecition as soon as you can stop laughing. Pure slapstick glee with no malice, no slyness and no sarcasm. Unadulterated joy, a thoroughly worthy companion to a masterpiece of a feature.
This film deserves the Oscar. It deserves every Oscar. And a Nobel Prize for brilliantness. And I bet it would win it too if I hadn’t just made it up…
This article was first posted on July 13, 2008