Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Andrew Stanton

Wall-E poster  
In spite of the care Pixar have taken over rendering Wall-E and his companions, this film has little time for realism. When we see the little robot watching films and saving trinkets in his home, it's clear that Wall-E is a very human machine indeed.

With the world turned into a massive garbage dump and vacated by all humans, it's Wall-E's lonely job to clear up the mess. The sky is a dirty brown, and piles of compacted junk tower as high as the skyscrapers they stand beside. Periodic dust storms ravage the urban landscape, which is littered with outlets for B and L, the mega-corporation that seems to have sold absolutely everything to everyone, including the means to escape the trashed Earth. Subtle it isn't.

Wall-E speaks very seldom, so it's amazing how much expression the animators have managed to squeeze out of him - and now I'm anthropomorphising the robot, because it's impossible to think of Wall-E as an "it", like some inanimate toaster. After all, toasters don't fall in love or make friends. He even appears to go to sleep at night. He has a pet cockroach, presumably because that's the only animal life that's capable of surviving the garbage apocalypse.

Things change for the metal dustman when EVE arrives. She's an ultra-modern, super-shiny and clean-looking robot with a top secret mission, and a scary temperament. She shoots down anything that moves, and scans everything else. Even though she (EVE is definitely a female robot) seems dangerous, Wall-E is desperate for companionship and keeps trying to reach out to her.

We do eventually get to meet some humans, and visually this is the biggest change in this movie, introducing a style that's similar to The Incredibles. The grungy look that surrounds Wall-E on Earth is lost. Humans live in a state of meticulous cleanliness, attended by an army of robots. But they have become blobs of inertia, endlessly consuming entertainment and food, with no will of their own. And in case we don't get the message, they move everywhere on floating couches, never walking anywhere.

Wall-E may have started on the drawing-board as an earnest attempt to highlight green issues, but the message is so overdone that it seems like a cynical attempt to jump on a fashionable bandwagon. And it's a bandwagon that has already left town: the need to consume less and recycle more has been popular for so many years it's now the orthodox view. Pixar can't be accused of courting controversy with this movie. The theme is an easy target for a movie that aims to move the audience with a saccharine-sweet little robot who only wants a friend, a story of hope and redemption amongst the dirt. Excuse me whilst I puke.

This sort of movie would be redeemed by some humour, but since it's mostly non-verbal this is confined to a little slapstick for the most part. Young children especially may find the film amusing, but it doesn't have an equal amount of appeal for their parents. It's sentimental, simple, unlikely and over-stylised, but above all it's just a bit of fun. The environmental movement will need to look elsewhere for a film that seriously champions the cause.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films

  Kids     Science fiction

Classification: U

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson