Tag Archives: WALL-E

“INSIDE OUT” Review (✫✫✫✫)

A lot going on inside Riley’s head.

Pixar movies have a way of transcending fantasy and translating it into a form of reality. Does that make any sense? Of course it does, because you’ve seen many of Pixar’s masterpieces before. Up’s fantasy is about a man building a floating house about balloons, but the reality it’s portraying is an elder man dealing with personal loss and finding happiness in unexpected places. WALL-E’s fantasy is about a clumsy dumpster robot, but its reality is about discovering humanity and protecting our home and history. And Toy Story. Ooff. That’s a fantasy about one boy’s childhood with his toys and how they’ve impacted him into his adulthood. That is also its reality.

Here we have another colorful Pixar masterpiece that uses reality as its springboard for creativity and fantasy, using a human being as a setting, and her emotions as its characters. The human is Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year-old girl who just recently moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. Her emotions are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (Lewis Black), and their memories with her make up the core of Riley’s personality and how she reacts in different situations. After the move-in, Riley gets all shaken up from all of the new adjustments she has to get used to, from being the new kid at school, to moving in to a home smaller than her old one. It’s up to her vibrant and unique emotions to try and keep Riley together and make her new life a happy, sad, fearful, disgusted, and angry one.

Written and directed by Pete Docter, who also helmed Pixar’s Monsters Inc. and Up, Inside Out is a clever, original animated feature that uses the human psyche as its playground. The best thing about the movie is seeing how creative it is in re-creating the human brain for a child’s mind, and seeing children react to all of the colorful adventures going on in this infinite cranial wonderland.

The first thing you notice with the film is its animation: vibrant colors and character models reach out to you in vivid details, even more so without the dimmed effects of 3D. Memories come in the form of small bowling ball spheres, colored after the fashion of each of Riley’s emotions. Different parts of her life are modeled into vast theme-park-like islands, from Family Land all the way to Goofball Island. Each island is also jam-packed with its own sleek features and gadgets that make you feel like you’re in the wonderful landscape of Disney land. Be honest: you would love to ride the literal “Train of thought” if it existed, wouldn’t you?

The film’s creative landscape, though, is to be expected. We’ve seen dozens of vast, colorful settings from many of Pixar’s films before. Andy’s room in Toy Story. Paradise Falls in Up. The AXIOM in WALL-E. You can probably name one setting that struck your eye in each movie, from the world of self-aware automobiles in Cars to the anthill in A Bug’s Life. Pixar has never failed in creativity, and I doubt anyone expects them to start failing now.

What I’m most impressed with is how the film handles its vastly ambitious premise, even with the film’s somewhat purported flaws. For instance, in Riley’s mind, a lot of childish, silly things go on that might make adults go on “offline” mode while the kids laugh at the overt goofiness going on the screen, like double rainbows and processed boyfriend machines. The characters are mostly one-dimensional, and for a film that has five emotions in it, the movie primarily focuses on only two of them: Joy and Sadness.

In any other movie, these quote-unquote “flaws” would make the film a weaker experience for me. It didn’t here. Why? The film’s premise, setting, and execution constitutes a need for each of these elements, making them contributors to the plot instead of distractions degrading from the experience. I would knock the film for being really silly and goofy at times, but it’s taking place in a kid’s mind. What else would be in the ecstatic and excited mind of a child? Doom, gloom, and misery? The characters are mostly one-dimensional and go through little change in the motion picture, but isn’t that kind of expected? I mean, what emotions do you think characters named Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger are going to feel? Woe, Delight, Calm, Desire, and Peace? That would break their characters, and detract from the personalities and make them who they are. Finally, there’s the greater focus of using Joy and Sadness as the film’s key players instead of the others. There’s a specific reason for doing this. It’s because those are the core emotions any human being is going to experience: positive and negative.

In the film, Joy and Sadness conflict with each other with their contrasting personalities, each one trying to help Riley in the best ways that they can. Joy wants everything to be happy and optimistic, and for Riley to feel the enjoyment out of every situation. Sadness focuses on the reality of each situation and on the raw reactions one may feel from those that are less than happy. While both emotions conflict with each other in the ways they want to help Riley, they are ultimately the most essential for her. They allow her to express her emotions in their purest forms: in either pure Joy, or pure Sadness.

This is the ultimate meaning of the film, in that there are different things that make up each human being. Some has more anger in their bodies than others. Some may be filled with more Fear than others as well. But like the animated, wacky emotions in Riley’s curious little head, we’re all unique to each other and in the ways that we handle life’s problems. It’s how a baby will react differently to a traffic jam in how a taxi driver would. It’s how a fully-grown man will react differently to broccoli-covered pizza than a toddler would. It’s how a young, maturing boy will react differently to meeting a girl for the first time, and visa-versa.

As human beings, we are all made up of different emotions and personalities, but being different doesn’t mean being bad. Sometimes we need to experience the rawness of certain emotions for certain situations, and that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, we need the help of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger to get through life. How we express those emotions is what makes us who we are, and we end up being human beings as unique and diverse as Riley’s wonderful emotions are because of them.

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“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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