Wall-E has been getting some truly outstanding press, and being touted as the best film this year… possibly the best film ever. And I usually love me a bit of Pixar, ever since being totally captivated by Toy Story. Toy Story 2 was even better (I especially liked the Barbie sequence). I wanted to snuggle that odd blue furry thing in Monsters Inc. I cried when they found Nemo, much to my little cousin’s disgust. (However, I was totally uninterested in Cars — erm, a movie about talking motors? No thanks, Herbie was bad enough). So I was rather excited about finally seeing the new Pixar film, even more so because I was going to watch it with the often elusive, occasionally flaky Amphibia, who seemed to be just as eager as I was.
While I can’t agree that this is the best film ever made, I did find Wall-E utterly charming. The beginning of the film was incredibly absorbing — Wall-E’s lonely, dusty, trash-filled world was wonderfully rendered, I think they must be the best graphics I’ve ever seen in an animated feature. The eponymous robot was immediately appealing — his camera lens ‘face’ was infinitely more expressive than the mugs on some live action stars these days. He rather reminded me of ET, but less creepy (I’ve always found the glowing finger thing quite disturbing). The developing relationship between grubby Wall-E and iPod-esque Eve (a 700 years younger model) was innocently romantic — I think I could watch those two interact with each other endlessly.
However, once the human characters entered the narrative, the film lost some of its oomph. I can understand why the shiny, rubbery Axiom spaceship environment was so different to the Earth’s desolate landscape, but after being treated to that spectacularly imperfect visual feast, the former just felt garish and like something I’d seen before (like in The Incredibles, particularly). The humans were 2-dimensional, especially compared to the sensitively realised robot protagonists, and even the robot supporting characters. Perhaps they were meant to make the audience feel uncomfortably self-reflective, but they were too bland to effect this.
In addition, the central moral of Wall-E, that our consumerism is turning us into lumpen isolates and that we must take care of our environment, is commendable but also obvious and simplistic. I really don’t think we need a film to tell us this, or that it will change anything. Then again, I am a wizened, 22year old cynic and Wall-E may well make a more profound impression on younger minds.
Obviously Wall-E could never live up to the hype, although the extremely reverent audience seemed to have bought it — I’ve never watched a film with such spellbound mass of people. There was no commentary, only delighted giggles whenever something amusing happened (which was frequent) and noticeably held breaths when something worrying happened. Wall-E seemed to transform the crowd of mainly adult Orange Wednesdayers into rapt kiddlywinks. I found their behavior almost as fascinating as the film itself.
I would definitely recommend Wall-E — it has timeless appeal and truly captivating leads. I just feel they ought to have focus more on the lovely romance between Wall-E and Eve than making obvious moral statements. For your money you’ll also get to enjoy the traditional Pixar short before the film, Presto, which was adorable, and the gorgeously hand-drawn images over the end credits, ranging from cave man scratchings to Impressionist artistry.