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

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

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

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