- Rated G
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Walt Disney
Reviewed by David Medsker
ALL·E” is everything that you’ve come to expect from a Pixar movie. It’s sweet, clever, funny, and visually stunning…but man, does Pixar swing a big stick this time around. If there is anything that Pixar has (wisely) avoided doing in their movies, it’s preaching, but they work a couple of Big Messages to the bone here. The idea behind the story to “WALL·E” was one of the first four stories the founding fathers of Pixar came up with, but the last to be made into a movie. Now that I’ve seen it, I think I understand why.
WALL·E (an acronym for Waste Allocator Load Lifter – Earth Class) is the last robot standing in what appears to be futuristic, waste-ridden New York. The human race left hundreds of years ago, but WALL·E continues to do his job, building skyscrapers of compacted trash and collecting random knick knacks that he finds amusing. One day a giant ship arrives and unleashes a sleek (but by no means meek) little probe named EVE. WALL·E is smitten with her and offers her his knick knacks to impress her, but regrets the move when she sees the plant he found growing in a pile of junk. EVE, per her directive, confiscates the plant and calls the ship back to retrieve her. Desperate not to lose her, WALL·E hitches a ride on the ship and lands on the Axiom, the mother ship of the Buy ‘n Large Corporation. Once the ship’s captain (voiced by Jeff Garlin) learns of the plant’s existence, he wants to return the ship back to Earth. His robotic crew, however, has other plans.
Most of the technical praise that “WALL·E” will receive will be for the visuals – and it deserves every accolade it receives – but the sound work is flat-out astounding. WALL·E and EVE say little more than their names and each other’s names, and the rest of the robots, with the exception of the Captain’s slightly menacing assistant, do not speak. However, the gibberish sounds they make cover the entire spectrum of human emotion, and you can understand exactly what they’re saying and feeling. For those who were nervous about the movie’s supposed lack of dialogue, fear not. As for the visuals, well, here is all you need to know: Pixar brought in cinematographer Roger Deakins – he of the seven Academy Award nominations – as a consultant, and it was money well spent. The scene of WALL·E and EVE dancing in space, not to wallow in hyperbole, is poetic.
Pity, then, that the part of the plot involving the humans proves to be more liability than asset. While there is a valid point in their attempts to show that technology makes people lazy, the absurd lengths that they take this point do not feel genuine to the rest of the story. As for Buy ‘n Large owning everything from grocery stores to interstellar cruise ships to the government, well, that’s blunt force trauma with the message stick in comparison to the rest of Pixar’s work, and it diminishes the script’s finer details, namely references to the work of both Rankin & Bass and “Galaxy Quest.”
Still, the parts that “WALL·E” gets right far outweigh the movie’s shortcomings. Yes, the movie has a Lisa Simpson-esque conscience, but more importantly, it has a soul, and leave it to Pixar to put that soul in the hands of the robots. I suppose that is a message in itself, but after the bits about the environment, technology and the dangers of corporations wielding too much power (insert your own Disney joke here), I chose to focus on the positive, and there are lots of positives on which to focus.
Three-Disc Special Edition DVD Review:
The three-disc set for Pixar’s latest adventure is positively stuffed to the gills with extra features that will appeal to both adults and children. Disc One features two deleted scenes that were actually finished for the movie and later cut, a rarity for CGI movies. Director Andrew Stanton contributes an audio commentary, along with introductions to the deleted scenes, and there are two short films, the hilarious “Presto” and “BURN·E,” a short about a light bulb replacing robot whose story takes place at the same time as “WALL·E.” Disc Two features two more deleted scenes (unfinished), a 90-minute movie about the history of Pixar, and an amusing bit called “Treasures and Trinkets” that features WALL·E playing with random objects, along with some making-of featurettes. Disc Three is the digital copy of the movie. Disney went above and beyond with this one.