Archive for June, 2008
For all of the usual Pixar brand of amazing technical virtuosity on display in WALL-E (and believe me, there’s plenty of it), it’s the wonderful characterization which makes the movie such a joy to watch. That director Andrew Stanton and his wizards at Pixar were able to draw such well-developed characters with such little dialogue is testament to the skill of their animation and story departments. I have trouble imagining a more human movie about robots.
If you’ve seen director Stanton’s previous masterpiece, Finding Nemo — and really, if you haven’t by now, you really should — that depth of character won’t surprise you in the least. WALL-E himself shows himself to be one of the more appealing leads of any of the Pixar films; on retrospect, this big-hearted, curious, noble, romantic little waste-collection robot is probably the most likable lead Pixar’s ever created. All of the film’s robot characters have distinct, well-crafted personalities, and almost none of them have much dialogue to speak of (pun intended). I think WALL-E and Eve spoke ten different words between them, yet there was never any problem communicating with each other or with the audience.
During the early parts of the movie, the audience is expected to piece together for themselves what happened to Earth, but once the setting changes, the Kid Gloves of Subtlety come off in favor of the Brass Knuckles of In Your Face. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; the less-subtle bits also provided a good deal of the movie’s comic relief. WALL-E might be a love story between two robots, but it also falls cleanly in the Science Fiction Film With a Message mold. The same segments of the population which allowed themselves to get lathered up about the environmental message in Happy Feet will be thoroughly pissed off by WALL-E, which amplifies the green message and throws in several helpings of condemnation of our consumerist society to boot. The two other main themes I took from the movie — Open Your Eyes to the World Around You and Follow Your Own Directive — likely won’t go over any better with the crowd who’d be upset with the Take Care of the Planet one. But I think all of these points are valid ones to teach our kids (and adults). More than valid, really. Essential.
Anyway , it’s nice to see that Pixar has next year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar wrapped up early. One critic mentioned that he thought WALL-E could be up for Best Picture, but now that the Academy Awards have a separate animation category, I’m not sure any animated flick will ever get a Best Picture nomination again. I’ll be curious to see if it gets a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Andrew Stanton, especially given the paucity of dialogue; my suspicion is not, though my hope is yes. I guess we’ll find out in February.
(Related side note: the short feature before the movie is one of the best they’ve done yet. Hysterical, and also dialogue-free, as most of their shorts are. Do not arrive to the movie late.)