Tuesday 18th January 2022

Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Reviewed by: Dave Witt

Pixar Studios are something of an anomaly in the world of film, in that they have produced nothing but successful movies since their founding. Even the relative duds (Cars, for example) tend to be far better than, well, anything Uwe Boll has ever emitted, to name but one. WALL-E, their latest film, is a bold departure from anything in their catalogue – part love story, part eco-tale, part slapstick comedy, all wrapped together as credible science-fiction.

Robo-love, Pixar-style
Robo-love, Pixar-style

Co-written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the writer and director of the excellent Finding Nemo, this could just be Pixar's best yet.

Set 700 years in the future, the eponymous WALL·E is the last of his kind – a small rubbish-processing robot, trundling around an Earth long-abandoned by the humans responsible for wrecking it, compacting and stacking refuse-cubes in seemingly Sisyphean fashion. He's been on his own long enough to have developed a personality, and collects little knick-knacks (such as a Rubik's cube) as he goes along. Physically, he looks like a cross between Short Circuit's Johnny Five and Woody Allen – despite being a tin box with binoculars on top, he manages to express a wide gamut of emotion, mostly (during the film's running time at least) levels of anxiety.

The first half hour or so of the film is strikingly bleak: virtually dialogue-free, we watch with an increasing sense of melancholy as WALL·E potters around the desolate landscape, surrounded by skyscrapers of trash-cubes he himself has constructed, his only companion the inevitable all-surviving cockroach. Considering this is nominally a kids' film, there is a staggering level of pathos in this opening section. However, once Events start to move forward, the tone of the film changes; it becomes a sort of adventure-romance tale, reminiscent of those ones with Michael Douglas from the 80's. The latter part of the film is as boisterous and rousing as the start was quiet and sad, and the film ends on a positive vibe which may strike some (more cynical) viewers as artificial given what had gone before.

Nonetheless, the sheer quality on display for the duration of the film is prodigious. The animation (which at each iteration plunders new superlatives) is, once more, the best yet; aside from the deliberately cartoonish humans that arrive later in the story, the world rendered on the screen is basically real. Considering that the principal protagonists are non-human, the range of emotional complexity and the personalities imbued are one hell of an achievement. Stanton and his team have created a rich, deep world, and illuminated it with endearing, memorable characters.

Some may find the film's tone uneven – more world-weary older viewers especially may find that the initial segment strikes a fascinating, melancholic chord with them, and hence find its subsequent departure a disappointment. Others, at the more impatient end of the scale, may consider the same section dull. It's a delicate balance. The film's ending may also disappoint purists who were hoping for something a little less conventional – it's worth remembering (as the inevitable Happy Meal® tie-ins will no doubt demonstrate) that WALL·E is primarily aimed at kids. Those of us with double-figure ages should count ourselves lucky that the film has so much to offer us as well.

WALL·E is quite simply one of the most perfect films I've ever seen. Watch it.

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Length: 98 minutes
Certificate: U
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 18th July 2008

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