Posted by Martin:
For me reviewing a Pixar movie can really become reviewing Pixar itself. How they keep making such good movies should be a case study for filmmakers, creative types, and frankly anyone in business. To keep making such work of such high quality will be the study of future academics.
The first act of Wall*E is a tribute to Ben Burtt. Barely single human word is spoken during the first 20 minutes or so. The only words are spoken by Fred Willard, who plays a sort of CEO/President of the world. Yet we still know Wall-E's emotions and we connect with him. A lesson can be learned here for aspiring screenwriters, you don't necessarily need words to connect to an audience. All of this is due to the skill of Ben Burtt's sound design. Giving the Oscar to anyone else in the sound category would just show ignorance on the part of the academy.
Wall-E was written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the director of Finding Nemo, my personal Pixar favorite. As was Finding Nemo, Wall-E has adorable characters playing in front of very intense adult themes, finding Nemo, losing a family and being afraid of everything, and Wall-E, humans disregard for caring of the Earth. These are not easy themes, but they make these movies timeless in that as the children that watch these movies get older they will relate better to the background themes of the movies.
Playing in front of these heavy themes are wonderful characters. Wall-E is a trash compacting robot that has developt a hobby of collecting things he finds in the trash, and he makes a home of this trash that shows a world 700 years in the past.
(images courtsey of Pixar Blog)
Eve is sent to search for plant life. She is a slick updated robot who floats, where as Wall-E rolls around on tire wheels. For a good portion of the film the only two characters on the screen are Wall-E and Eve, again no human words are spoken, yet we know the conversation. Why? Because it is a familiar conversation, one of someone reaching out in their loneliness.
As Wall-E and Eve are moved off Earth and to the spaceship that contains the remaining humans on a cruise space ship. A sort of combination between Gilligan's Island and Star Trek Voyager, they went out for a 5 year tour, but 700 years later they are still cruising.
It is here that we meet the first human characters in the movie. And they are all fat and helpless. Unable to walk or turn over without help from a robot or a video screen. The moral lesson gets a little heavy handed in this part and it is the weakest part of the movie. But it is in the ship that we meet more compelling characters We find a robot that must clean up, no matter if he gets off track, to clean is his existence. We find a hyperactive robot, a robot thay many children and parts can relate to.
In the end Wall-E is another Pixar classic. The perfectionism and effort they put into their work is breathtaking. In the future when our world is covered in trash, some robot will be sitting at a tv watching Wall-E.
(In researching this post I stumbled upon Pixar Blog. A great example of a very narrowly focused blog and the great info that comes from it.)