The creative genius behind such animated hits as Finding Nemo and Toy Story has struck again. Andrew Stanton has become a fixture in the Pixar world, consistently producing hugely popular hits, and the newest film to come out on DVD, WALL-E, is no different. Taking a decidedly different approach than past animated films, writers Pete Docter, Jim Reardon, and Stanton decide to tackle the ever-present issue of global warming and the rising fears of garbage taking over the planet, and they achieve a surprisingly entertaining result for the children in the audience.
WALL-E (voiced by Ben Burtt) is the Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class robot, and the only thing left on the sickly gray-brown planet (aside from his friend the perky, Twinkie-loving cockroach) where the mounds of trash have grown taller than the skyscrapers. In the beginning scenes, we see proof that humans at least attempted to be environmentally minded, as seen from the few wind farms and the fact that WALL-E himself is solar-charged. However, once the garbage became too overwhelming, the humans were encouraged to take a five-year vacation on the space station Axiom while the WALL-Es of the world cleaned up the trash. However, the rising toxicity levels caused the vacation to become permanent and WALL-E was left alone on Earth.
The trash-collecting, show-tune loving robot performs his day-to-day duties of compacting garbage in his belly, finding treasures and trinkets of human history along the way. On a particularly eventful day, he finds an object that could change the fate of human existence. One day, a robot scout, Eve (voiced by Elissa Knight) is the Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator and has arrived looking for proof that life is once again sustainable. Upon seizing WALL-EÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new treasure, Eve goes into a sort of catatonic state and waits for the ship to return her to the Axiom. Through a series of adventures, our hero learns that love is possible, faith is essential, and hope is necessary to accomplish what you believe in.
Though the film starts off strong and intriguing with horrifying images of what our earth may become, once WALL-E boards the spaceship out of love or loneliness to see Eve, the plot loses substance and consequently becomes repetitive. The last half of the movie revolves around WALL-EÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s discovery and its constant loss and retrieval. You rarely (if ever) doubt what the out come will be, though perhaps that is how a kidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s movie should be. Some of the adult members of the crowd may grow bored, lose interest, and start wondering when the 98th minute will finally arrive because of the circling plot. However, children will most likely remain entertained by all of the engaging robots and their antics.
Still some may ask, Ã¢â‚¬Å“How are little kids supposed to sit still for so long if there isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even much of a plot?Ã¢â‚¬Â Right from the beginning, WALL-E is endeared to viewers. Leave it to Pixar to take a robot with little speaking opportunities and make him loveable and adorable. When Eve enters her catatonic state, WALL-E still tends to her, taking her for walks, protecting her from the rain and even trying to jumpstart her back to life. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like the goofy, clumsy guy you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but adore. Though heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s supposed to be an automated robot with one specialized function, with his sweet child-like voice with different intonations and eye movements that reveal his emotions, his wide-eyed innocence becomes positively charming.
Eve, on the other hand, has an entirely different appeal for viewers. She arrives on Earth for one purpose: to find proof that Earth can sustain life. She is graceful yet violent, nearly blasting WALL-E to pieces on several different occasions, then flying effortlessly and beautifully through the air. She can blast herself out of any situation, even when she gets sucked in by a giant magnet used in junkyards, which is a particularly comical and satisfying scene. She is a tool of humans and WALL-E transforms her, teaching her to love, to dance, and to hold hands.
Some parents may be wary of its message as well. Is it appropriate for a childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s movie to involve such dark themes as the destruction of the environment? I think so. After all, children are our future arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t they? Even though the film has the potential to be a somewhat disturbing cautionary tale, the execs behind it have managed to find the hope in the situation through machine and human camaraderie. Despite its less-than-entertaining plot line, it contains an important message that children need to be introduced to so they can be prepared to take on whatever mess we leave behind. In spite of its shortcomings, WALL-E has become a great achievement in cinematic history, and deserves its rising status as a cultural phenomenon.