To be honest, I didn’t put much faith in a movie about a robot who could only say, “Wa-AA-lleee….” Especially one that’s been by himself for 700 years. Then again, the last Pixar release of talking machines wasn’t exactly a stellar production, either. Give me talking rats or talking fish, at least they had personality. But talking cars? C’mon, now. But maybe Pixar learned from its mistake of verbosity in Cars and decided limited dialogue would bring back the luster of Pixar’s blinding three dimensional success. If that’s how WALL*E came about, then kudos to Pixar. WALL*E not only kept me fascinated, it made me giggle throughout and left me sighing.
In this new offering from the same team who brought you Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, Earth is a virtual wasteland, and no longer inhabited by humans. The humans are all aboard a space colony called Axiom, pampered and waited on in robot-assisted existence. Left behind is WALL*E, a hardworking Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth class robot, has done what he was programmed to do, compact trash and stack it neatly, cleaning the planet one trash cube at a time. Apparently the passing of years all alone has given this clunky, rusty, dented and creaky machine, time to develop a sense of curiosity, a playful personality, and a love for “Hello, Dolly” showtunes and choreography. His best friend is a cockroach, he’s managed to amass a treasure trove of junk, is seemingly content, albeit lonely.
Then along came EVE. A sleek, state-of-the art egg-shaped robot deposited on earth by an Axiom spacecraft to scan its surroundings as an Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. WALL*E is instantly enthralled and admires EVE’s speed, versatility and gracefulness from a tentative distance. She exudes efficiency and focus and comes with a laser she’s not afraid to use. EVE has a classified directive and WALL*E, after he’s overcome his fear of her laser, befriends her and inadvertently helps EVE achieve her goal. EVE has to return to the Axiom to report her findings, but WALL*E is desperate to build on this new found friendship. Who can blame him? If you’d been alone for 700 years, wouldn’t you be reluctant to say good bye to a new friend? So WALL*E becomes an accidental tourist of the galaxy, embarking on a thrilling adventure that makes him an anxious stowaway aboard a ship of advanced machines and lazy humans.
Under the direction of by Academy Award(r)-winning writer-director Andrew Stanton, the gifted storytellers and artists who brought charm and innovation to The Incredibles and Ratatouille, elevated their game by enabling WALL*E to convey in beeps and tones and soulful eyes a gamut of emotions that captivates the viewer. Limited dialogue was definitely on the menu, at least between robots. Which makes WALL-E all the more enchanting. It’s up to the viewer to draw on simple exchanges and the robots’ varying intonations of each other’s names to interpret their growing affection for one another.
With its breathtaking animation and deft rendering of heartwarming characters, CGI-animated features don’t get much better than this.
A fantastic voyage with an eco-friendly warning wrapped in a poignant love story, WALL*E restored my faith in Pixar’s well-deserved, acclaim.
4.5 out of 5 stars.