Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Movies: WALL·E

"WALL·E," the latest animated feature film from Pixar, is definitely the powerhouse studio's most challenging work. For one, there isn't much dialogue. The two lead characters are robots who speak in sound clips and electronic noises. There are also sharp criticisms leveled at Wal-Mart and modern consumer culture, as well as an obvious environmental theme. This is not your typical summer kiddie movie, in other words.

Despite all the heavyhandedness, the film is at heart a silent film romance, in the style of Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. WALL·E, the last robot on a post-apocalyptic Earth, spends his days consolidating all the trash on the planet into neat, skyscraper-sized piles. One day, though, a mysterious robot named EVE appears, and WALL·E is instantly smitten. The relationship between the two, as well as the journey that follows, has the usual Pixar earmarks of quality.

Director Andrew Stanton also wisely steered clear of too much in the way of social commentary. The film has an optimism that turns what could have been a gloomy, dark satire into a more hopeful piece. Even though the Earth is covered in garbage, the movie treats it as a problem that can be fixed with some hard work. Some may still be turned off by the conservation messages in the movie, though.

Where the film really falls a bit flat for me is in the actual execution. The second half of "WALL·E," like many Pixar films, is jammed full of action setpieces and battles. Unfortunately, none ever has the excitement or visual flair of, say, the final airport chase in "Toy Story 2" or the metropolis battle in "The Incredibles." Overall, though, it's another very good Pixar film that's worth watching on the big screen.

Rating: 8/10


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