Andy Bockelman: 'WALL-E' one of Pixar's best


— Hath not a robot eyes? If you prick him, does he not spill motor oil?

Does a robot not love? At least one does - he goes by the name "WALL-E," and he currently graces the screen of the West Theater.

By the early 29th century, the Earth has long been deserted by human life. Acres of garbage litter the landscape, but of the many robots originally left on the planet to clean it up, only one still functions.

WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) has spent centuries sifting through the skyscrapers of trash abandoned by humans, and has developed a strong sense of curiosity as a result. Even greater than his interest in oddities such as Rubik's cubes, fire extinguishers and paddleballs is his longing for companionship.

The closest thing he has to a friend is a cockroach until, one day, a shuttle drops out of the sky. Inside the vessel is something his lenses have not glimpsed in years - another fully-functioning robot.

EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) is the droid of his dreams - even if she can break the sound barrier effortlessly and has the potential to blast him into oblivion. Just as they begin to bond, EVE's mission on Earth takes precedence, taking both she and WALL-E on a journey that will change the world forever.

Legendary sound designer Ben Burtt brings some of the best elements of his work to WALL-E's audio.

As one who has worked extensively with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Burtt creates a voice for the spunky little automaton that resembles a hybrid of R2-D2 and E.T., nicely matching the look provided by Pixar animators.

EVE, voiced by Elissa Knight, is sleeker and more feminine-looking than her admirer, with a clock radio-type face that conveys her range of emotions.

In contrast with past Pixar films, the additional voice cast is quite small, including Jeff Garlin, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver and studio favorite John Ratzenberger. In an additional innovation, Fred Willard is featured in live-action snippets as Shelby Forthright, CEO of Buy 'n Large, a monstrous bulk store that, by and large, caused the evacuation of Earth.

Pixar takes a lot of risks in its futuristic entry, many of which are downright brilliant. In comparison with "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo" and the rest, the movie easily contains the least dialogue, but has the most to say.

The hazards of consumerism and human laziness are targeted in this topical cartoon as WALL-E meets humans for the first time in 700 years and finds that seven centuries of "progress" has been anything but.

In a nod to HAL 9000 of the groundbreaking "2001," humans are at the mercy of artificial intelligence presence AUTO - single, glowing red eye and all - and its fellow machines, trapped in a perpetual state of blissful lethargy, unaware of even each other's presence.

Even with this venture into the previously untapped market of true-to-life socio-political issues, Pixar keeps the romance between WALL-E and EVE genuinely endearing and consistently compatible with the style we have come to know and love.

"WALL-E" is the type of feature that warrants multiple viewings; the 12-and-younger division may not appreciate it as much as "The Incredibles" or "Cars," but as WALL-E comes to love an old videotape of "Hello, Dolly!" so will they eventually acknowledge this as a new precedent for Pixar excellence.

Even if it does take half a millenium.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.