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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 14.71%
Just Average: 5.88%
Pretty Crappy: 6.86%
Sucks: 2.94%

6 reviews, 66 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Heartbeeps Accelerating"
5 stars

As anyone who has read or taken part in Q&A discussions with noted filmmakers can attest, there is almost always a point where someone asks the subject what they consider to be their personal favorite of all the films that they have done and in many such cases, the filmmaker in question will answer with some slight variation of “the next one.” Coming from most people, such an answer is usually an indication of false modesty but if the people at Pixar Animation were to offer that as a response, I for one would find myself taking them at their word. In a time when diminishing artistic returns are the norm and most people are content to merely rest on their laurels instead of challenging themselves to any degree, they have constantly pushed the envelope by taking huge gambles in regards to their material and their manner of approaching it and in nearly every case, those gambles have paid off wonderfully with such technically innovative and enormously entertaining works as the two “Toy Story” movies, “Monsters Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles.” When they did play it safe for the one and only time, as they did with 2006’s “Cars,” you could immediately sense that something was off--it played more like a film from one of their competitors trying desperately to recreate their formula from afar than the genuine article--and even then, it was still better than most animated films to come around in recent years.

More importantly, the tepid response to that film seems to have goaded the studio into making even bolder moves than before. Last year’s “Ratatouille” was a startlingly mature and poetic hymn to the creative process that managed to overcome such potentially alienating elements as a title that meant nothing to most American viewers, a Parisian setting and a rat as the central character and became, in the eyes of many, their finest work to date. With their latest effort, “WALL*E,” they have upped the ante even further by offering viewers a largely dialogue-free epic that spends most of its first half on a future Earth that has become so choked with garbage that the entire planet has been rendered uninhabitable and focuses on a solitary robot trying to win the heart of the artificial life form of its dreams. On the surface, such a premise may sound like a barely palatable fusion of “I Am Legend” and “Heartbeeps,” but in the hands of Pixar, they have transformed this potentially mawkish tale into a film that is not only a great entertainment for viewers of all ages and temperaments, it may even top “Ratatouille” as their supreme artistic achievement. I say “may” only because I am writing these words only a few minutes after seeing “WALL*E” and I don’t quite have the distance from it yet to render such a verdict, though I know that if I had the opportunity to see it again this very minute, I would happily stop working on this review in order to experience its 97 minutes of pure, unadulterated bliss for a second time.

“WALL*E” kicks off with visions of an Earth that has been covered with litter to such an extent that the Big & Large Corporation, the multi-national conglomerate that ran everything from superstores to gas stations to banks to the White House, decreed that it would be easier to simply house all of the remaining humans on enormous spaceships sailing through the galaxy while an army of Waste Allocation Lift Loader Earth-Class robots clean up the mess left behind. B&L estimates that the job will take only five years or so but, in a development that is perhaps not too surprising for a company that appears to have Fred Willard at its helm, that estimate proves to be a little off. In fact, when the story opens, it is 700 years in the future and there is only one WALL*E that is still at work compacting trash. In those seven ensuing centuries, however, WALL*E has begun to develop some form of self-consciousness--he saves bits of detritus that it finds interesting for its own personal collection, it befriends a surprisingly resilient cockroach that appears to be the only other creature left and spends its free time obsessively rewatching its own version of a Desert Island Movie, an ancient Betamax copy of, of all things, “Hello Dolly.” Although resilient and self-sufficient, WALL*E has one problem that his programmer clearly didn’t count on--he is profoundly lonely and it just wants to be loved.

One day, WALL*E’s ordinary routine is upended forever when a ship arrives and drops off another robot, a sleek and sassy model known as EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). For WALL*E, it is love at first sight, even when she repeatedly tries to blast him with her ray gun. Before long, he begins to win her over and after rescuing EVE from a dust storm, he takes her back to his storage area to show her some of his treasures and to bust a few of his “Hello Dolly”-inspired moves. He even offers her a small token of his affection, a strange little green thing that he found emerging from the dirt. It turns out that this bit of vegetation is exactly what EVE was sent there to look for in the first place and when she takes possession of it, the ship returns to take her back to the central spacecraft, the Axiom, to let the people know that it is finally safe for them to return to Earth. Unwilling to lose the love of his life, WALL*E surreptitiously tags along for the ride and winds up aboard the Axiom as well. It turns out that the past 700 years have not been good for mankind--having spent the past few centuries in an artificially controlled element in which all their needs have been tended to by millions of robots, people have devolved into flabby fools with neither the strength to do anything for themselves nor the intelligence to even notice that they are atrophying. What happens next is best left to be discovered by you, except to note that what transpires involves a few surprising developments, an army of misfit robots that WALL*E inadvertently molds into an uprising after accidentally freeing them from a repair center and WALL*E’s willingness to go to extraordinary lengths to be reunited with his beloved EVE.

The idea of making characters that are inanimate objects come across as human is nothing new for Pixar--they pulled off that trick brilliantly in the “Toy Story” movies (and somewhat less so in “Cars”) by developing interesting storylines for them to get involved in and by casting fine actors (not necessarily the biggest marquee names, unlike rival studio Dreamworks) who were able to infuse them with heart and humanity simply through their vocal abilities. With “WALL*E,” writer-director Andrew Stanton (whose previous effort was a little thing called “Finding Nemo”) has made things more challenging for himself by giving us a film in which the central character speaks almost entirely in a made-up language of blips and boops and places him in a story in which there is virtually no dialogue at all for the entire first half and then only sparingly from that point on. Once word of this particular approach leaked out, it inspired many to speculate that Stanton and Pixar were facing disaster because audiences, especially little kids, wouldn’t stand for a film that is free of dialogue as we know it for long stretches of time and in which the main character communicates almost entirely through strange noises. In theory, these assertions are ridiculous for a couple of reasons. For one thing, there was a time when all films were dialogue-free and no one had trouble understanding what was going on. You might argue that was a different era but I have seen little kids experiencing the word-free likes of the slapstick comedies of Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy to the cartoon adventures of Tom & Jerry and the Road Runner (not to mention most of the shorts that Pixar has developed in recent years to play before their features such as “Presto,” the hilarious battle of wills between a magician and his rabbit over a carrot that precedes screenings of “WALL*E“) and enjoying them to such a degree that they may not have even noticed that the characters weren’t talking. As for having a character who can communicate only through electronic noise, I would simply like to point you in the direction of a little robot by the name of R2-D2--he never spoke a word of conventional dialogue in any of the “Star Wars” film and not only has he proven to be one of the most popular characters in the entire saga, I don’t think that there is anyone out there who was unable to understand exactly what he was saying at any given point in the films.

Therefore, I went into “WALL*E” without seeing much of a problem with the film’s approach towards its narrative and central character but even I was blown away by how well Stanton has made it pay off here--to put it simply, this is cinematic storytelling in its purest form. The screenplay is a wonder in the way that it manages to pack so many disparate elements--ranging from slapstick comedy, adventure and romance to drama, social commentary and science-fiction, not to mention gentle homages to classic films running the gamut from “2001: A Space Odyssey” (which gets a number of shout-outs, most significantly in a wonderful bit where mankind finds itself evolving once again to the tune of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” to “Manhattan”--into a beautifully-paced 97-minute running time without ever wearing out its welcome or botching a transition from one mode to the next. More importantly, it remembers that kids are often a lot smarter than most people take them for and it respects their intelligence enough to keep things moving along without having to stop every few minutes to explain everything that is going on to them. The result is a storyline that will come across as engrossing and captivating to viewers of all ages--so much so, in fact, that at the moments when it appears that tragedy may have struck, even the older and more cynical viewers may find themselves shocked to discover just how completely they have been sucked into what is going on with WALL*E, his mission and his single-minded devotion to EVE. As for WALL*E himself, he is a delight to watch throughout and thanks to the contributions of Ben Burtt, who created the electronic language that he utilizes throughout (a duty that he has also performed over the years for, you guessed it, R2-D2), he becomes the most funny, touching and fully developed character to emerge in an American film so far this year. This isn’t one of those cloying movie robots that is so insistent on wanting to know what it is to be human that you want to toss it into the nearest scrap heap. This is a real character with real emotions that anyone can identify with---so much so, in fact, that after referring to WALL*E as “it” in the first couple of paragraphs of this review, I found myself going back and changing “it” to “he” in order to better represent the essentially humanity that lurks behind his mechanical exterior.

That said, I suspect that so many people will be knocked out by the both the character of WALL*E and the film’s unique storytelling approach that they may wind up inadvertently overlooking its other key asset, which is how extraordinary it is on a visual level. Over the years, Pixar has given viewers one visual delight after another but they have surpassed all of their previous achievements this time around. The first half is especially astonishing for the simple reason that it doesn’t look at all like an animated film. Instead, they have given us a photo-realistic look at a pollution-choked Earth that is so enveloping and convincing that there were points where I was almost convinced that I was looking at live-action footage. This illusion of reality also extends to how the characters and the action are framed throughout--the action is often staged in an off-kilter way that suggests footage shot off-the-cuff instead of being meticulously planned with countless computers. I understand that Roger Deakins, the man who shot such films as “Kundun,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and every Coen Brothers film from “Barton Fink” on, was hired by Pixar to serve as a visual consultant for the film and his influence and expertise can clearly be felt throughout--even though there is no such thing as traditional cinematography in the world of animation, “WALL*E” looks so amazing throughout (even in the slightly more conventional second half aboard the sleek and shiny spaceship) that as of right now, I would cheerfully shortlist it as deserving of a Best Cinematography Oscar for what has been achieved here.

Last week, regular readers may recall, I found myself concluding my review of “The Love Guru” by trying to figure out some pithy way of fully encapsulating just how hateful, puerile and completely devoid of entertainment that monstrosity truly was on every possible level, artistic or otherwise. I could point out that it is a masterpiece from the first frame to the last (even the end credits contain more artistic vision and narrative depth than most current feature films) but I would hope that you picked up on that idea much earlier. I could say that Pixar has topped themselves once again, but they have done that so many times over the years that even that statement has begun to lose its meaning--at the rate they are going, it is not only possible that the studio will one day make the Greatest Movie Ever Made, they may actually get around to doing it sooner than later. Wait, I think I have it. Go back and either re-read my review of “The Love Guru” or, if you are a brave and foolhardy sort, go out and actually see it in order to fully experience its utter loathsomeness for yourself. As horrible, wretched, infantile, disgusting and flat-out lousy as “The Love Guru” is, that is how wonderful “WALL*E” is.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17264&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/27/08 00:26:18
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User Comments

7/30/19 Suzanne So thought-provoking and a sweet love story - cheers! 5 stars
3/13/16 Charles Tatum A dry stab at social commentary 3 stars
4/02/12 Rita P WALL-E...still the most charming leading man in the movies. 5 stars
11/23/11 Dr. Chan Not a compelling story at all. And its rhetoric is not my taste. 1 stars
10/18/11 Magic Not even a disappointing third act can offset the brilliant first two thirds of this movie. 5 stars
3/03/11 Mona W/his binocular eyes you can see the very moment Wall-e falls in love w/Eve. Pure Magic. 5 stars
2/26/11 Rita Absolutely mesmerized by Wall-e and Eve. A masterpiece. 5 stars
1/13/11 carol miles Sorry I didn't see this on the big screen - it's wonderful 5 stars
8/03/10 Lana Pixar proves herself again, showing how actions speak louder than words. ADORABLE 5 stars
5/31/10 User Name Quite possibly Pixar's best. 4 stars
1/16/10 TravisN Loved this movie. 5 stars
12/21/09 Dr.Lao A visually stunning and thought provoking movie, but the juvenile humor feels out of place 4 stars
12/13/09 Micah Definitely my favorite of 2008. 5 stars
11/26/09 gabriel An average movie hyped to infinity. Completely cliché. if I was 10 again I would love it. 3 stars
11/15/09 Reality Of Films The film was okay, but it was too serious, and boring in parts. I'd give the movie a C. 3 stars
10/21/09 MP Bartley Even by Pixar's high standards, this is truly, truly exceptional. 5 stars
6/19/09 Beefsolver There is no beef between Spirited Away fans and WALL*E fans. Never was. Beef solved. 5 stars
3/25/09 mr.mike It was good. 4 stars
3/05/09 Morgan You hated Spirited Away but WORSHIP WALL-E?!?!!!?? 1 stars
1/20/09 Croweater88 brianodorf, that the worst review i have ever seen you write. For shame. 5 stars
1/14/09 clatz Fantastic movie, very sweet and moving 5 stars
1/08/09 Anonymous. one of the best animated films in a LONG time ;] 5 stars
11/27/08 Yvette It was great!! I recommend this for the whole family. 5 stars
11/26/08 Jonathan Pixar's like the '07 Patriots - they're chasing perfection. 5 stars
11/21/08 JD This film is the greatest animated film of the decade. 5 stars
11/20/08 KB5 Great message about the miracle of Life and it in all it's forms! 5 stars
11/16/08 Greets Another fine Pixar film that better than most live-action films this year 4 stars
9/30/08 Louise Clever and charming, with impressive animation 4 stars
9/16/08 Oiman Incredible, best movie ever 5 stars
9/11/08 Jon What can I say? This is another Pixar Classic. 5 stars
9/04/08 Rachel Wouldn't call this Pixar's best film ever - as some have - but it's definitely up there. 5 stars
8/27/08 Cathy It was okay, worth watching once - Some parts are good, but some parts are a little boring 3 stars
8/24/08 Samantha Pruitt i found it to be highly depressing, yet cute, hmmm, those chairs look awesome to have. 3 stars
8/12/08 Alice I dont understand the comments. Iam a huge disney fan but this sucked! Boring. 2 stars
8/05/08 E K Zimmerman Absolutely sublime - the best Pixar outing to date. 5 stars
7/30/08 ben dover 2 stars.brianorfdorf fuck you paki twat 5 stars
7/21/08 Moriazbane Perfection! Great love story. Adult entertainment, not for immature kids 5 stars
7/19/08 Shaun Wallner My daughter loves this movie! 5 stars
7/16/08 athenais Great movie!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/15/08 David Just goes to show "G" films don't have to be poison for adults. 5 stars
7/13/08 Private Without a hint of exaggeration.. modern masterpiece. 5 stars
7/13/08 D Fantastic 5 stars
7/13/08 George Barksdale I loved it, a great family movie 5 stars
7/11/08 toni awesome!!!! 5 stars
7/11/08 Flounder The film moved me to the verge of tears, which is a rarity today. My highest recommendation 5 stars
7/10/08 L. Slusarczyk A fabulous movie thats worth the price of admission. 5 stars
7/08/08 Jack Quite simply one of the best movies ever made. And yes, I cried too... 5 stars
7/07/08 mary m My 5 yr old niece loved it and so did I. I'll admit I cried. 5 stars
7/06/08 Mr X The best Pixar movie yet! Brianorndorf is just being a hater. 5 stars
7/05/08 AnnieG A Pixar movie made for grown-ups that kids may enjoy also. 5 stars
7/04/08 Craig The best quirky-little-robots-in-love movie ever! 5 stars
7/04/08 Matt This movie was TERRIBLE and BORING!!!!!! 1 stars
7/02/08 Leo S Hmm.. Not seeing it. It was ok, but it got tedious pretty quick 3 stars
7/01/08 Flounder One of the most unique, incredible trips to the movies I have have ever experienced 5 stars
6/30/08 Aaron Brian the gags on you. Corporatism musn't always be negative. 4 stars
6/30/08 Anthony You leave the theatre appreciating everything around you. 4 stars
6/30/08 Roy Smith Pixar produces perfectionc again 5 stars
6/30/08 Wolfrider Totally worth it - will definitely be looking for this one on DVD 5 stars
6/30/08 tmcmistress brian, your review is 1% criticism and 99% projecting. 5 stars
6/30/08 Kye Mitchell Wonderful movie! 4 stars
6/29/08 dan halberg take a valium, brianordorf! 5 stars
6/29/08 Robert Auto's voice was Macintalk. Sigourney Weaver was the more normal female voice of the ship 5 stars
6/29/08 Quigley WALL-E deeply moved my heart. Could very well be one of the greatest films ever made. 5 stars
6/28/08 Christof M. Bradford My rating is actually 4.9 stars, because as good as it is, WALL*E is not quite perfection. 5 stars
6/28/08 Bob lovable movie 5 stars
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  27-Jun-2008 (G)
  DVD: 18-Nov-2008


  DVD: 18-Nov-2008

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Andrew Stanton

Written by
  Andrew Stanton

  Fred Willard
  Jeff Garlin
  Ben Burtt

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