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Movie Review: Wall*E

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Pixar/Disney moves into the realm of the high concept space odyssey, but perhaps the most important wonder is succeeding with low amounts of dialogue throughout the film. Talented animation filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) directs and writes the visually heavy screenplay.

Set in 2700, the robot Wall*E (a.k.a. Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) spends its days cleaning up Earth’s mess while all humans now live on a “cruise ship” called the Axiom, managed by a giant corporation called Buy ‘n Large (B ‘n L). Ben Burtt utilizes tone and groundbreaking sound techniques to make Wall*E so memorable.

Wall*E is the little guy in a great big world as audiences view his action mostly through a third person perspective. Later, filmmakers switch to a first person POV to increase the emotional impact he… I mean, it… has on the audience, especially after the arrival of the EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) robot (voiced by Elissa Knight). Pixar mainstay John Ratzenberger and Kathy Najimy voice John and Mary, two important human characters who rethink their situation after encountering Wall*E. Sigourney Weaver even gets into the voice acting as the main computer on the Axiom.

Wall*E finds fascination in and unique uses for the things humans usually find mundane while combating the loneliness he feels. That’s right, the robot feels, which represents a logical leap that most audiences are willing to assume, especially because the plot is set so far into the future. Adults may debate this element (e.g. why would Wall*E be programmed to be more human-like when he doesn’t interact with any humans in his work — or maybe he was going to interact with them sooner, or maybe Wall*E evolved and outlasted his hard-working counterparts), but younger viewers won’t really care. It’s great to see a film with so many great visual elements and morals, plus deeper themes that can engage the adults… you know, the people usually bringing the young ones to the theater. After audiences acclimate themselves to the visuals and Earth’s predicament, filmmakers then expand the adventure and even jettison doses of ideology on society, the environment, media use, and even obesity.

Strong visuals balance out the lack of dialogue as filmmakers balance between animated characters/settings with realistic live action elements like presidential… well, B ‘n L CEO updates from Shelby Forthright, played by veteran comedian Fred Willard. Pixar builds here on the technique of mixing live action with animation. This concept carries over into the extremely detailed settings further strengthened by smooth edits and outstanding sound – vital parts of this film’s great success.

Thomas Newman provides the original music score for this enjoyable odyssey, which also contains songs from several classical musicals, including Hello Dolly! Audiences will likely find similarities to other memorable epic films (Wall*E‘s expanded shape even looks like a famous extra-terrestrial who visited theaters in 1982), but can still find plenty of originality and heart. This outstanding, all-ages film comes highly recommended and is rated G. Enjoy the animation short Presto before the feature and the ending credit animations that show some nice story continuity.

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