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‘WALL-E’ animates big sci-fi ideas

by JD Warnock on June 27, 2008

in Print Reviews

I can’t remember being as excited for the release of any previous animated feature as I was for “Wall-E,” the latest animated masterpiece from the wizards at Pixar Studios and director Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo”). My lofty expectations were easily met and surpassed by the visually magnificent artistry and the thematically challenging storyline. However, it will be interesting to see if audiences react to “Wall-E” the way I did, or if many children and adults will leave the theater confused and unamused. Wall-E Pixar

Make no mistake, “Wall-E” is a ballsy and philosophically driven science-fiction piece, dressed up as an animated children’s film with a simple and moving love story between two grunt-level robots. Director Stanton is also credited with the gutsy screenplay, whose overwhelming anti-globalization, anti-materialism and in many ways anti-technology messages aren’t just hinted at, they’re right up in your face.

Let’s skip the plot summary, OK? It’s a robot love story. We’ll leave it there and let you discover the plot for yourselves.

I appreciate and admire the choice of themes and the risks being taken here. Cartoons have always contained more information than was evident on the surface, and as a consequence, “Wall-E” has more depth than it knows what to do with. It is however, interesting to consider that while aimed at young audiences, cartoons have always been made by adults, so it’s not a shock that a degree of social commentary has always found its way into all varieties of animated work. In the old days, social messages were snuck in discretely either for the amusement of the animators or the writers, but in recent years animated features have become more open about the larger messages at play and therefore more challenging thematically. With “Wall-E,” the gloves are all the way off, which inspires the question… “If you don’t agree with the agenda that’s being represented would you be as comfortable with a cartoon that is so openly packed with heavy philosophical and ideological themes?” Pixar Wall-E space

In addition to the storytelling, the makers of “Wall-E” took a big chance making a film that has almost no dialogue for the first half of its 90 minutes. My guess is that kids are more accustomed to interpreting implicit information and more in tune with the animated delivery system than their adult chaperones, who are likely to have more of a problem with the lack of dialogue than the kids. Wall-E Eve Pixar Studios

At this point in their history, audiences have a great deal of faith in Pixar, and with good reason. They have yet to release a substandard animated feature. They still rule the proverbial animation school and as a result, they have an industry of filmmakers constantly chasing their tails. “Wall-E” is a landmark film in two ways. First, the animation itself is astonishing, and represents another leap forward in both quality and craftsmanship. The second is the daring story, which could easily be reinterpreted into a literary science fiction novel, complete with the same huge philosophical questions and social criticism presented here, all of which are as overt as any of the marquee messages in any of Michael Moore’s pictures.

At the end of the day, “Wall-E” is a fantastic kids movie, with the kind of heart and soul that only the best of animated films have ever had to offer. I am confident that kids will love “Wall-E” even if their parents don’t, and I think most will. Even those who doubt “Wall-E” from the previews will have a hard time leaving the theater without a smile on their face and a few gigantic ideas to kick around. And frankly, it’s for those reasons that “Wall-E” is exactly what exceptional science fiction is all about.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ChrisKnudsen June 27, 2008 at 11:01 pm

This had been one of the most anticipated films of all time for me but I do think it is the worst of the Pixar films. I still generally liked it and was enteratined but I don’t think I am going to ever watch it again unlike every other Pixar film.

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2 ChrisKnudsen June 27, 2008 at 11:01 pm

This had been one of the most anticipated films of all time for me but I do think it is the worst of the Pixar films. I still generally liked it and was enteratined but I don’t think I am going to ever watch it again unlike every other Pixar film.

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3 ChrisKnudsen June 27, 2008 at 11:02 pm

God, seems like I can’t even finish complete thoughts or spell right I suppose. Bleh.

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4 ChrisKnudsen June 27, 2008 at 11:02 pm

God, seems like I can’t even finish complete thoughts or spell right I suppose. Bleh.

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5 Eric Melin June 28, 2008 at 11:04 am

What was it that you disliked so much? Was it the second half of the movie? And if so, why? Live action humans and CG humans was weird, huh? Too overbearing?

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6 Eric Melin June 28, 2008 at 11:04 am

What was it that you disliked so much? Was it the second half of the movie? And if so, why? Live action humans and CG humans was weird, huh? Too overbearing?

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7 RCM June 29, 2008 at 1:19 am

Sorry ChrisKnudesen, but this movie was the best Pixar has done years; my favorite since “Toy Story”. I’m not as in love with their movies as most people, but this time they really out did their selves. I liked this a lot better than food rat, talking cars, and kiddy fish.

Small problems: For all their animated genius, Pixar films could still try and make better looking human characters, especially if they’re going to include a real actor with them, and the anti technology message was a bit obvious and really undercut by the wonderful love story which is at the heart of this movie’s excellence.

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8 RCM June 29, 2008 at 1:19 am

Sorry ChrisKnudesen, but this movie was the best Pixar has done years; my favorite since “Toy Story”. I’m not as in love with their movies as most people, but this time they really out did their selves. I liked this a lot better than food rat, talking cars, and kiddy fish.

Small problems: For all their animated genius, Pixar films could still try and make better looking human characters, especially if they’re going to include a real actor with them, and the anti technology message was a bit obvious and really undercut by the wonderful love story which is at the heart of this movie’s excellence.

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9 RCM June 29, 2008 at 1:27 am

Also Chris, as I embarrassingly look back at a few of my posts, I see that I have made horrible spelling and grammar mistakes. I write these all on my phone and it’s surprisingly difficult getting it all right on something so small. Anyway, I hope I don’t come off as a total retard. I match your bleh. And Wall-E ruled!

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10 RCM June 29, 2008 at 1:27 am

Also Chris, as I embarrassingly look back at a few of my posts, I see that I have made horrible spelling and grammar mistakes. I write these all on my phone and it’s surprisingly difficult getting it all right on something so small. Anyway, I hope I don’t come off as a total retard. I match your bleh. And Wall-E ruled!

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11 Clark June 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm

I have seen Wall-E two times already. I loved it! It’s beautiful in every possible level! To me, the end credits, showing the development of the society through the development of the paintings, is the cherry on the top of this delicious sundae. Just perfect!

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12 Clark June 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm

I have seen Wall-E two times already. I loved it! It’s beautiful in every possible level! To me, the end credits, showing the development of the society through the development of the paintings, is the cherry on the top of this delicious sundae. Just perfect!

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13 RCM June 30, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I’ve seen it twice too, which is the first time I have ever gone and see a Pixar film twice in theaters. The more i think about it, the more I think this is their greatest masterpiece.

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14 RCM June 30, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I’ve seen it twice too, which is the first time I have ever gone and see a Pixar film twice in theaters. The more i think about it, the more I think this is their greatest masterpiece.

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15 Mia July 1, 2008 at 10:57 am

I was also overly excited for this movie! I love anything by Disney Pixar, and of course they surpassed all expectations with Wall-E. Definitely in my top 3 favorite Disney Pixar movies. I thought the fact that there was little talking would make it hard for little kids to sit through, but there were plenty of kids in the theatre when I saw it and they all loved it. It was such an adorable story that it is hard for me to imagine not falling in love with it!

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16 Mia July 1, 2008 at 10:57 am

I was also overly excited for this movie! I love anything by Disney Pixar, and of course they surpassed all expectations with Wall-E. Definitely in my top 3 favorite Disney Pixar movies. I thought the fact that there was little talking would make it hard for little kids to sit through, but there were plenty of kids in the theatre when I saw it and they all loved it. It was such an adorable story that it is hard for me to imagine not falling in love with it!

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17 patrick July 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Wall-E totally looks like the robot from “Short Circuit”… minus the cheesy 80′s style of course

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18 patrick July 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Wall-E totally looks like the robot from “Short Circuit”… minus the cheesy 80′s style of course

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19 Eric Melin July 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm

It’s true, but hopefully people can get past that and realize this is a whole different ballpark. Remember “Who’s Johnny?” Great song. Wasn’t that a DeBarge kid or something?

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20 Eric Melin July 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm

It’s true, but hopefully people can get past that and realize this is a whole different ballpark. Remember “Who’s Johnny?” Great song. Wasn’t that a DeBarge kid or something?

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21 robert/death/assassin1 February 4, 2009 at 2:19 am

I thaink they should make a nother walle the retern of ato. wall and eve are still to gether a cople years and ato was rebuilt by go-4 and put in a big robot suit and he biult some broken robots out of trash called junkers. walle and eve get to go after ato and a new carecter gets put in he is called ret-1 robot endurece trooper he looks like eve but a littel defrent he is more serose he has 2 gun arms and hes red and his eyes are green and he grunts all the time and walle and eve try to get him happy but it dont work until half way in the movie they go acros the worlsd and find ato in a old city and ato herts eve and ret gose and and destroys ato but he gets hit too walle lazers atos suit battery and beats him and walle fixes eve with a metal sheat and they go back to the capt aand he fixes eve and ret then they hafe to stop go4 and some under ground junk worms and eve and ret team up and they win the end showes walle and eve flying in space and ret is behind them and he has a happy face.

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22 robert/death/assassin1 February 4, 2009 at 2:19 am

I thaink they should make a nother walle the retern of ato. wall and eve are still to gether a cople years and ato was rebuilt by go-4 and put in a big robot suit and he biult some broken robots out of trash called junkers. walle and eve get to go after ato and a new carecter gets put in he is called ret-1 robot endurece trooper he looks like eve but a littel defrent he is more serose he has 2 gun arms and hes red and his eyes are green and he grunts all the time and walle and eve try to get him happy but it dont work until half way in the movie they go acros the worlsd and find ato in a old city and ato herts eve and ret gose and and destroys ato but he gets hit too walle lazers atos suit battery and beats him and walle fixes eve with a metal sheat and they go back to the capt aand he fixes eve and ret then they hafe to stop go4 and some under ground junk worms and eve and ret team up and they win the end showes walle and eve flying in space and ret is behind them and he has a happy face.

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23 donate March 11, 2009 at 4:12 am

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24 donate March 11, 2009 at 4:12 am

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