Aug 22, 2008

[Movies] WALL·E (2008)

WALL·EIf you're new to some of my movie reviews, you might not know that I'm a pretty big fan of the brilliant creations of Pixar Animation Studios. I mean, what's not to like, right? Their films are not just brilliant in terms of animation quality and technical prowess but are also gripping, moving stories that are endearing to most and always have something for viewers of all ages.

You can imagine my frustration when I found out that WALL·E, Pixar's latest movie, was going to be shown here in the Philippines pretty much a much after its scheduled release in the US. Bugger that to heck! So I did my best to remain patient for the film to get here and didn't read any spoiler-ridden reviews nor did I even consider getting it on Asian version DVD or via more diverse online sources. Oh yes, very patient.

WALL·E is the tale of Earth's distance future. the planet has become horribly polluted due to man's own ineptitude and all that remains "alive" on the planet is WALL·E, a robot whose only true function is to gather up the dirt and debris littering the planet and compressing them into neat little cubes which he stacks into increasingly diverse towers of scrap. Hence his name WALL·E is an acronym that describes his function as a Waste Allocator Load Lifter - Earth class. Over the years of his isolation, he's developed a form of bit of a personality on his own along with a significantly strong sense of curiosity.

His world changes when a rocket ship arrives and drops off a sleek new robot called EVE - the Extraterrestrial Vegetation Extractor. Years of watching a dated copy of the film adaptation of the musical Hello Dolly! has left WALL·E with a certain sense of longing for companionship and perhaps even "love", if you think these robots are even capable of that. The rest of the film follows the progress of their "relationship" and ultimately the mystery of humanity's abandonment of Earth.

After reading a piece by TIME Magazine about the film's chances of an Oscar, along with other interesting articles and analyses posted around the web, I have to admit I was getting more and more excited about the film prior to watching it. Of course such building anticipation can never be good for any film since it drives expectations higher and higher as time progresses and a somewhat obsessive geek like myself can do a heck of a lot of self-destructive thinking and pondering about any number of subjects in a month's time.

When I did finally get to see the movie, I have to admit that on some level I was a bit disappointed. I don't think it's anywhere near a serious Oscar bid for its story and overall impact. However that is not to say that I didn't find it to be a good movie overall. Hence I took a little time to reflect on the movie in as objective a sense as possible prior to posting this review.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 21:  Robot Wall. E arri...Image by Getty Images via Daylife The film's story is deceptively simple, like with all Pixar films. It tends to operate on multiple levels - the primary one of course being the simpler one for children, Disney's core demographic. The others are for the folks of other ages whether teenagers or happily married middle-aged folk (if only to cite examples, mind you).

At the same time, the movie's plot is quite bold in scale and the kind of message it's trying to send. Sure, in this age of Al Gore and films the like of An Inconvenient Truth, films with environmental themes aren't exactly new. Heck, even Happy Feet did that. What I liked about the treatment here was that it wasn't that far-fetched or too far away from the central plot. In fact, it pretty much all tied together from start to finish and those concepts were the driving force behind WALL·E's very existence, when you really think about it.

The movie was certainly funny - no mean feat given the general lack of extensive dialog. Frankly, I've seen Pokémon episodes with more "dialog", haha. Then again, the lack of dialog is not a bad thing at all - in fact it's the most daring part of this movie and certainly what makes this animated film so different from all others before it. The humor wasn't predictably slapstick either given the lack of sound akin to the Charlie Chaplin films of old.

The movie is something I'd definitely repeat if only to enjoy the subtle and intelligent humor woven into the tale and of course to genuinely apperciate how the filmmakers managed to make the portrayal of two robots feel more human than many romantic comedies and chick flicks out in the market today. Seriously - they did a top-notch job of really bringing these robots to life on the screen and getting us, the audience, to truly see them as "human" characters in their own right.

Plus he's so darned cute. =P


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