By Joe Donato
Pixar’s Wall-E wastes no time. For a movie hyped over its lack of dialogue, it’s a surprise that it moves deftly from plot point to plot point and makes the inevitable departure from Earth within the first half hour or so. What follows is an awe-inspiring space montage; a love letter to our galaxy. Bouncing solar flares, the icy ring of Saturn and a mysterious nebula are but a few of the sights.
That small scene represents so much of the love, care and enthusiasm that goes into every frame of Pixar’s masterpiece. It’s that attitude that produces winners year after year. They take a concept, whether it’s toys, superheros, sea life, or french cuisine, and show the beauty in it. From the aforementioned montage, to Wall-E’s hilarious Apple start-up sounds, to references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film demonstrates a true appeciation for technology, space, and science fiction. That these nerdy nods serve the multilayered plot makes it all the more thoughtful.
At once a simple love story and a cautionary tale about our environment, the movie works on many levels. The beautifully simple romance and overarching tale of humanity’s negligence are expertly balanced so that neither becomes overbearing. Happy Feet dared to present an environmental message and crumbled under it’s own propaganda. Here, Pixar asks us to wake up and stop taking the world for granted- but it never stops being fun, and all the while it tells one of the most charming love stories in film.
Moreso than any of Pixar’s previous efforts, Wall-E succeeds as a family movie. While I adored Ratatouille‘s simple, child-like creativity, I’d never call it thought-provoking. Wall-E is less of a pure experience than Pixar’s previous effort but the brilliance is in how its innocence is never lost. For a child, Wall-E is an adorable hero who falls in love, chases his love into space, and gets into several misadventures. For an adult, Wall-E is still a fun and exciting love story, but the ruins of earth and the state of humanity leave a depressing message that’s just enough to make it more than a whimsical children’s movie.
It seems like Wall-E does it all. There’s certainly little that it does wrong, and it covers a lot of ground. Any one act in Wall-E could have been an entire movie, yet it manages to stay well under two hours. Pixar has not only topped themselves yet again, but summarily created the peak of this year’s movie-going experience. There’s a lot of the year left, but I dare any studio to bring something that comes close to Wall-E. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch it three or four more times.