Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, Sigourney Weaver
Pixar have been dropping the ball of late. ‘The Good Dinosaur’ was visually stunning but lacked an engaging story, ‘Monsters University’ is the most unneeded member of the animation house’s filmography and the less said about ‘Cars 2’ the better. But before they started to make prequels and sequels, Pixar created their masterpiece, ‘Wall-E’. To attempt to pick out Pixar’s one true masterpiece is an arduous task when you have to choose between the likes of ‘Up’ and ‘Toy Story 3’, yet ‘Wall-E’ is the shining example of the impressive scope and imagination the animation house can conjure up.
Set in a garbage-ridden, dystopian future where humans have abandoned Earth due to planet wide consumption, the world left behind is a scrapheap of gluttony with only the lonely Wall-E left to clean up the mess. By day he stacks rubbish blocks higher and higher until the landscape is adorned by skyscrapers made of waste, and by night he watches old black and white films humans left behind. But Wall-E’s simplistic existence is shaken when a mysterious shiny new robot, EVE, lands with the sole job to find out if Earth is habitable for life anymore. Cue romance, fire extinguishers and a Hal 3000-esque computer bent on keeping humans from ever making it home.
Andrew Stanton, yes the man behind ‘John Carter’, but let’s not hold that against him, creates a playfully beautiful world that offers up stunning visuals. None more stunning than the fire extinguisher scene, which proves to be a perplexing example of how beautiful animation can be. Stanton blends Kubrickian vision with silent film sensibilities and a dash of Philip K. Dick to craft a touching, sentimental story that manages to pay tribute to the science fiction films it is so lovingly inspired by while managing to cram in a environmentalist message. It does so without ever feeling congested and nor does it shove it’s message down your throat, it’s all dealt with in such a simplistically likeable manner.
It’s surprisingly that Stanton manages to keep the film’s tone so light when it deals with a frighteningly realistic depiction of humanity’s demise. Humans’ devolution into overweight heffalumps who live their life through a screen, consuming food through a cup isn’t too far down the evolutionary ladder from our current position. Nor is the representation of man’s treatment of the natural world. It’s like a poetic Nostradamus prediction just with robots. But Stanton has one trick up his sleeve, Wall-E.
Pixar have successfully made a career out of giving life to animate objects but never before have they instilled one with such emotion. With a few simple eye gestures, Wall-E emits a beguiling amount of emotion and child-like curiosity. Making you care immensely for what is essentially a bin with wheels. It’s a masterstroke that is never diluted but instead is gifted with new depths when Wall-E falls for EVE, if Wall-E is a Sega Megadrive than EVE is XBOX ONE. While the cynical adult in you may perceive it to be a simple marketing ploy to get children to buy toys, it actually constructs Wall-E as the most humane character in the whole film, despite obviously being a robot. It’s nothing short of genius. Whether he is attempting to classify a spork, playing Pong by himself or saving humanity, Wall-E is impossible not to fall in love with.
Wall-E is as close as Pixar have come to a perfect film, the inclusion of real life holograms makes for an odd and unwelcome touch, but Stanton has created a rich ecological parable that is also an affectionate love letter to science fiction while also being an adventure story. But Pixar, please no sequel.