Published at: June 28, 2008, 2:37 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with some thoughts on Pixar’s latest work of genius: WALL-E.
From the very first trailer I had a gut feeling this was going to be something special, even for Pixar. By the time I saw the finished film, I had seen the first act three times. I was blessed with a visit to Pixar when I was in San Francisco for WonderCon where they showed us the complete and finished first 25 minutes. Between that, the footage from Comic-Con, the footage shown at BNAT I figured I’d seen a good amount of the movie.
And that’s fine. Each time I was awed by what I saw, by the depressing yet beautiful future world Pixar created, by the soul reflected in the body language and eyes of WALL-E and by the incredibly filmic style Andrew Stanton insisted upon.
I got to experience the wonder, so it wasn’t all that big of a deal that I’d seen most of it by the time I saw the whole kit and kaboodle.
Well, that’s where I was wrong. The majority of the trailers have only shown you the very beginning of the story. Thank God there were still surprises and wonder left. The heart of the story was laid out in the beginning… Wall-E’s the only robot left working on an Earth that became so overrun with refuse that it quickly became uninhabitable.
The humans left on a gigantic luxury cruise looking space ship, supposedly for 5 years as a team of robots were to collect and compact all the trash. But the humans stayed away and the robots stopped working until only one remained.
Somehow over the hundreds of years of working alone this lone robot developed a unique personality, a human quality… a soul.
But that’s a catch-22. He has individuality, but no one to share his uniqueness with. He’s lonely.
One day EVE shows up on a search mission. If Wall-E is an Apple IIe, then EVE is an iMac. Sleek, sexy, futuristic. Wall-E’s in love and after a… difficult… and brief courtship EVE is collected and Wall-E begins his adventure.
I knew going in Wall-E was going to be a magnificent character, but what I didn’t expect was the glut of absolutely great side characters we meet when we get back to the Axiom, the luxury ship holding all of humanity.
Through a great series of events I won’t spoil here, Wall-E ends up essentially being put in a special education section… He’s essentially put in with the misfit toys, malfunctioning robots. But are they really malfunctioning or are they just as individual as Wall-E is himself?
There’s one robot that whores Wall-E up, powdering his face with make-up the second he’s pushed in the room, there’s one that’s bugnuts crazy and pounds the hell out of anything in close proximity. I loved these guys.
The humans of the future are… well, imagine if Mike Judge made a sequel to IDIOCRACY (that Fox might actually put some money into and release… in this hypothetical, of course) set in space. Everybody’s fat, dependent on technology and so caught up in their world that there is no individuality anymore.
To say this is a masterpiece of family filmmaking is no surprise. It is Pixar, afterall. To say it’s a masterpiece of Science Fiction storytelling is a bigger surprise. The future told here is a dark one, the implications of HAL-9000-like twisted programming machinery and an almost totalitarian robot regime on the space ship are all much darker than I imagined we’d see in a family film.
But it’s a testament to Wall-E as a personality that he keeps the movie from being depressing. His neverending kindness, optimism and seemingly unlimited cuteness infects not just the audience, but all the characters he interacts with.
There’s also a bit of a Christ parallel thrown in for good measure.
That’s all in the subtext. On the surface it’s a goofy cute robot overcoming some obstacles and making everybody smile. What’s great about this is that kids will love it now and when they revisit it in 10 years time they’ll see it in a whole new light. That also means it’s not a chore for the adults taking the kids.
I’ve loved almost all the Pixar movies. CARS I think is my least favorite, but conversely it’s also the most beautiful looking Pixar film… up until now. The photography in this film is beyond beautiful.
WALL-E is a giant step forward for Pixar… when I thought there wasn’t much further they could go. It took balls to have a lead character who doesn’t speak traditionally and it pays off. Look at Luxo. Pixar knows how to use body language to tell a story and then they had the brilliant idea to hire Ben Burtt as Wall-E’s voice and bam… the have an instant icon.
Time will tell if WALL-E can topple THE INCREDIBLES as my favorite Pixar film, but as it stands right now it’s a close second.
Before I go, I want to share some pictures I took inside Pixar. It was a good trip and then when we got to look through the now legendary “cubicles” that’s where the real magic was for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any pictures in there, but it was as wonderful as you’d think it would be by viewing the extra features on the Pixar DVDs.
You can feel the creative energy in the place. Everybody is smiling, everybody loves what they’re doing and it shows in their work. Here are the pics: