Out of this world
This Pixar masterpiece boldly goes where no animation has gone before, writes Michael Dwyer WALL•E Directed by Andrew Stanton. Voice cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Wiollard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver
release, 97 min AN ADMIRABLY adventurous animated feature devised with a wealth of imagination and originality, Wall-E relates one of the most unusual love stories ever told on screen, as one robot falls for another with beguiling consequences. This captivating Pixar picture is set in the year 2700, long after Earth was smothered in litter and deemed unsustainable.
The planet’s sole remaining inhabitants are a robot and a cockroach. Wall-E (an acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter –
Gen cert, gen Earth-Class) is a battered, binocular-eyed drone programmed to compress the vast mounds of rubbish into compact blocks. In this barren, depopulated landscape, he finds the last remnant of nature, a single plant. (He? The pronouns in this review are used out of convenience.)
An automated spacecraft makes a dramatic entrance with a single passenger – a white, egg-shaped, blue-eyed search robot, Eve (Extra-Terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator).
The initial attempts at communication between her and Wall-E appear doomed until he shows her the home where he keeps the items that have piqued his insatiable curiosity, among them a Rubik’s Cube and a videocassette of the 1969 screen musical, Hello, Dolly!
When Eve realises that the surviving plant may provide the key to the planet’s future, she returns through space, reporting to the humans living on a vast space liner known as Axiom.
Infatuated, Wall-E pursues Eve across the galaxy, but there are, inevitably, obstacles placed in their path. They have to save the plant if they are going to save the planet.
On one level, the movie is a cautionary tale of the modern world. Its ecological message is simply, effectively expressed without any recourse to heavy-handed moralising. The human diaspora are so obese that they can’t move without mobile chairs and permanent connections to phones and screens.
That may – or may not – bother couch potatoes stuffing their faces while watching the movie on DVD months from now.
The love story that begins so tentatively and runs throughout the film is established with such grace that the willing suspension of disbelief kicks in before we even realise how taken we have become with the affair between two robots.
That could be read as a parable on the acceptance of difference for whatever reason in present-day human relationships. However one interprets it, it is achieved with an unexpected tenderness that is disarmingly touching from the magical moment when the couple first hold “hands”.
Director Andrew Stanton ( Finding Nemo) and co-writer Jim Reardon have crafted an enchanting, wonderfully inventive scenario that dares to keep dialogue to a very minimum and pays cinematic homage along the way to a number of science-fiction predecessors.
There are musical references ( Also Sprach Zarathustra, The Blue Danube) and visual nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The sounds emanating from Wall-E are provided by Ben Burtt, the voice of R2D2 in Star Wars. The voice cast also features Sigourney Weaver, who played the resourceful Ripley in Alien.
Animation rarely has been more beautiful than in this bold, inspired and thrilling entertainment infused with wit, hope and humanity.
R2D2 has a new rival in the cute ’bot stakes