“WALL-E” Review (✫✫✫✫)

A little robot proves that emotion isn’t a malfunction after all.

If there is any film that shows a greater maturity can be reached with something as simple as a children’s film, WALL-E proves that very point perfectly.  It’s everything you’d expect from a Pixar movie and more.  Yes, the animation is gleaming and beautiful.  Yes, the story is touching and poignant.  And yes, the main character is as funny and entertaining as he is sympathetic and lovable.  But oh, is this film much more than being just a simple kids movie.  Much more.

Taking place on planet Earth in a dystopian future, WALL-E (Ben Burns) is the last of a line of robots tasked with cleaning up the earth after the human race left it in a state of filth and desolation.  After they left centuries ago onboard a space ship called the AXIOM, WALL-E is the last active robot who continues to engage in his duties day in and day out on planet earth.  During all of his time on earth, however, he begins to develop something some technicians might call a “malfunction”.  He begins to develop a conscious: a heart.

Time passes as days turn into years, and on one day just like any other, WALL-E encounters EVE (Elissa Knight), a probing bot tasked with retrieving something on planet earth for the AXIOM to analyze.  WALL-E cannot help but feel infatuated by EVE, and their meeting launches into a space adventure of involving, epic, and emotional proportions.

You need to see this film just for the plain simple fact of seeing it.  WALL-E is a bright, beautiful, stylish, and visually stellar film that astonishes the audience through its rich amounts of animation, colors, computer graphics, and textures.  There’s quality in the environments in WALL-E, a vibrant and lively texture that makes the world of WALL-E not only great to look at, but also make it look real. Whether WALL-E is traveling on the chaotic and anxious AXIOM, working on the desperate, garbage-infested planet Earth, floating over the lonely, dusty surfaces of the moon, or flying peacefully through the stars in outer space, WALL-E is great to look at because of its authentic, detailed computer animation.  WALL-E is a great-looking film.

More than that though, I’m impressed by the story and the themes that are being expressed to us through those visuals.  Written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the same man who wrote and directed Finding Nemo, WALL-E is a space adventure filled to the brim with imagination and creativity.  You would typically expect this considering this is Pixar, but even by those standards Stanton outdoes himself.  Similar to Finding Nemo, Stanton once again manages to make a story that is not only funny and light-hearted, but also deep and significant to its audience.  In this story Stanton develops a nice theme of consumerism and environmentalism, though he does it in a subtle way to which it doesn’t overwhelm the story or annoy the audience.  He does this through simple scenes where we see an American flag sitting on a cherished historical landmark long ago, but a slow pan reveals an advertisement for an upcoming BUY N’ LARGE mall coming soon.  Stanton is effective here as a storyteller, as he deliberately uses pace, subtext, and soft, quiet moments to make the greatest impact upon his audience.

And finally, there are the characters, who are written and animated here with such life and uniqueness that it is hard to forget them once you leave the theater.  EVE is a determined, upbeat, and enthralling spherical robot who is just as intimidating and confrontational as she is enthusiastic and sincere.  A small robot named MO is such a clean freak that he will stalk you around an entire space station if your shoes aren’t clean.  And then there is WALL-E, the robot who is so curious, clumsy, funny, brave, heartfelt, and full of wonderment that his heart is as full as any flesh-and-blood human being’s can be.

Again, the majesty and craftsmanship of WALL-E is to be admired.  To the younger audience, it is a children’s film about a curious little robot exploring the universe and finding love.  You wouldn’t be wrong if you made that assessment, but that’s only the surface of the story.  To the older audiences, WALL-E is a fantasizing and amazing story encompassing the totality of human nature, the preservation of the environment, and what would become of planet Earth if humanity does not take care of their home.  Kids will like the movie because WALL-E is quirky, funny and lovable.  Adults will appreciate it for the deeper intentions.

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