Tuesday, July 1, 2008

WALL-E - Review

The year is 2700. Earth has deteriorated nearly past recognizability. Enormous spires of compacted trash dominate the smoggy skies. Yet within this post-apocalyptic dessert of a planet, there is a glimmer of life – and oddly enough, it is not technically alive. It’s an industrious little robot named WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class), who busies himself with what he was programmed to do; compact garbage.

The opening scenes of Pixar’s latest endeavor play out like that of a dark science-fiction (Kubrik’s influence is apparent throughout the film), and until we encounter our mechanical protagonist, that’s precisely what the movie is; a disturbing painting of the ravages of environmental indifference and mass consumerism on our planet. And yet it is not the foreboding message that makes this a memorable and moving picture. WALL-E’s greatest strength comes from the brilliant story-telling style of the film’s writer-director, Andrew Stanton, who recognizes that a picture is worth a thousand words.

WALL-E is made up of thousands of said “pictures”, each one as effective and filled with emotion as the wordiest of dialogue. WALL-E speaks a different type of dialogue. One with a more universal appeal. With WALL-E, Pixar has created a perfect marriage of the most modern filmmaking techniques, and the most ancient ones, hearkening to a time when the movies didn’t rely on sound to get the point across.

Not that I’ve got anything against sound. On the contrary, Ben Burtt’s exceptional sound effects for this picture intelligently help convey the thoughts and moods of all the robot characters. His achievement here almost equals his groundbreaking accomplishments on Star Wars over 30 years ago (heavy Oscar consideration is due).

I recall jokingly putting WALL-E in my Best Picture predictions at the very beginning of the year. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem quite as big a stretch, especially with word that Pixar may back a serious campaign to earn a BP nomination. I still don’t have that much faith in the Academy to nominate a cartoon for best pic, however, everything I currently have it predicted for (screenplay, score, sound, animated pic) is indeed likely.

Until July 18th rolls around (we all know what happens then) I’ll be back at my local Cineplex to view WALL-E for a second, maybe even a third, time. It is the freshest, most creative, and most gorgeous film of the year, and it deserves my repeat business.

**** out of ****

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