Lowdown: A humane robot delivers a message to robotic humans.
Pixar movies are always something I hold high anticipation for, and WALL-E must win top honors in the anticipation department after reading some very rave reviews. On the other hand, not all that is Pixar is gold; I know I'm at a minority, but I can't say I liked Finding Nemo much. So which way will WALL-E go?
Well, as expected, Pixar's WALL-E is yet another computer animation film. This time around it tells the story of a garbage collecting robot called WALL-E, living some 700 years into our future and dutifully cleaning up the mess after humans. Only that humans no longer live on earth; having contaminated it beyond livability, we learn that humans now reside in huge spaceships. On his own, WALL-E has only a cockroach for a friend; yet even though he is dumb (as in, he can't speak) he is obviously more human than human in character, and it's also obvious that he suffers from extreme loneliness.
One day a spaceship brings him a visitor: a very flashy flying robot, EVE, who is armed with a laser and is not afraid to use it. Quickly enough, though, the two robots become friends (and lovers) with WALL-E assuming the male role and EVE the female one (or is it just their names that make me associate the sexual roles?). As the plot thickens, WALL-E follows EVE to space where he meets what currently passes for humans. Have no fear, though: by the time WALL-E shows them humans what it is to be a human, all of this world's problems (as well as the solar system entire) will be solved.
Overall, WALL-E is a very green film: it's a warning about what would happen to our planet if we continue treating it the way we do. It does it by going to extremes, showing us what the earth would be like if our current emission and consumption trends continue. It shows us what humans will be like if our current behavioral trends continue: In WALL-E, humans spend all day lying on mattresses, staring at fixed screens in front of them, avoiding all direct social contact, and consuming Supersize Me serves of foods and beverages. The people of the future are all obese but also suffer from small bones for reasons not made entirely clear by the film; it can't be evolution because there won't be selection for smaller bones, so I have to assume it is the lack of gravity and its effect on hormones' generation. Then again, the spaceships do seem to have gravity, so who knows! The point is that WALL-E serves as a warning about the future of humanity by going to extremes and by showing us a glimpse of proper humanity through a couple of Adam and EVE robots.
So far so good, but the main question for this review to answer is whether WALL-E the film is any good. Well, is it? My answer there would be a resounding NO-E. I have found WALL-E the film to be a major disappointment. I have found WALL-E the film to be a rather boring film that clings too tightly to cliches. Those, in turn, make it a rather predictable film that render WALL-E an even more boring film.
Take the first part of WALL-E as an example. We have ourselves a poor robot that can't talk and has no company, so in order to develop its character we go through an ordeal of character developing events. Events that we've seen before in the great encyclopedia of "how to make a character appear so cute you want to give it a kiss without the use of dialog". I realize WALL-E might be aiming at kids' levels there, but why should kids be indoctrinated with these cliches through something that is sold to us as a quality film?
The next problem with WALL-E is that for a film with scientific pretences, the way a film talking about global warming and the environment has to be, there are way too many things that don't make sense and other things that are very un-scientific and only make sense because they, too, belong to the great encyclopedia of redundant and stupid science fiction film cliches. Examples? Why the hell should EVE, an explorer robot, be armed with a powerful laser and programming that make her use it quicker than Billy the Kid? Why does EVE require a separate robotic arm to program her by typing commands when she could easily interface her spaceship? What's the deal with our robots playing with Saturn's rings? [Spoiler alert till the end of the paragraph:] How come the boneless humans suddenly cope well with earth's gravity? How can those humans build a society based on the one plant that WALL-E has found, and why couldn't they just genetically engineer suitable plants at their whim given all the technology they have with them? And why does their orbit take them beyond Saturn when they could efficiently stay closer to earth? And why does the film need to resort to "space jumps" when the human ship goes back to earth, instead of a more realistic and Theory of Relativity compliant space cruise? And last, but not least, cockroaches are not as robust as cliches make them out to be; without people's artificial heating they won't make it through a New York winter, for a start.
I know I'm being somewhat petty with my complains, but these are all things I have noticed when WALL-E bored me to near sleep. That, and the fact I have a problem with unnecessary twists on science that distract even further and contaminate people's minds. I mean, the message of global warming comes from science, so if you want to discuss it you should stick with science all the way or you risk becoming just another boneless argument that has to rely on extreme "shove it in your face" tactics to deliver its not so fine message.
Best scene: As usual with Pixar movies, they are accompanied by a short animation film of superior qualities. This time around it's called Presto and it's about a magician and his hungry rabbit. It's ten times better than WALL-E in the entertainment department!
Technical assessment: Like all Pixar DVDs, this Blu-ray features exemplary picture. The sound is also of excellent fidelity sporting a DTS HD soundtrack, but surround envelopment leaves a lot of room for added aggressiveness.
Overall: In Hebrew I would say that WALL-E is Hantarish. For those who don't speak Hebrew I will say it's a disappointing 2.5 stars out of 5 while adding that the score includes consideration for the Blu-ray presentation's technical prowess and for the lovely Presto.