Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WALL-E review

Yes, I know this is a month late, but you voted on more Movie, Animation, and Sci-Fi content; and I finally got the chance to see the movie today. Being a Traditional Animation major (that's 2D animation for those not aware) I'm always curious about whats going on the animation industry, Eastern or Western, 2D or 3D; I just like to know what's going on. And there's no ignoring the leader in the 3D industry, Pixar, now a subsidiary of Walt Disney Pictures.

Their latest released project, WALL-E, follows a trash compacting robot who has been left on an abandoned Earth for over 700 years. Personally, this was the first Pixar film I've been excited for since Toy Story came out when I was younger. There was just something about this film that made it appeal to an older audience, maybe it was the science fiction, or its post apocalyptic setting, and a feeling of isolation. Either way, everything I hoped this movie would be was delivered.

As stated before, the film follows the day in the life of a trash compacting robot, built by the Walmart-esque, cooperate giant, Buy N Large (BnL); he is the last of his kind. For a bulk of the opening the film is virtually silent dialog, thanks to the lack of voice characters of all robot characters. And that's how it should be; the lack of dialog creates a great feeling of isolation, and allows you to really focus on the character. And without voice actors, no one is going to see this based on its cast, which is great to see, because now the picture can be appreciated for its story, characters, and technology, all without a big name actor's name posted on everything. But no worries for you fans of talk-heavy media, when humans are seen later in the film, the dialog becomes quite fitting, and changes the pace properly.

The real focus of the film is the near nonexistent love story between the titular character, WALL-E, and the sleek patrol bot, EVE. I say nonexistent because the feelings the characters have aren't always mutual. But it does make for an interesting story because both characters are so different. WALL-E is a trash eating, rusty 700 year old robot with a curious mind, and EVE is a sleek, ultra hi-tech patrol bot; both are actually created by BnL, but I don't think inbreeding is a topic for discussion. The contrasting personalities, and the fact that they do have emotions, is something not normally seen in robots, and it makes the movie much more interesting.

But let's really dissect this film for what it is. After watching this I'm pretty surprised it got a G rating. Sure, there's no real violence, and obviously no foul language, but the messages and the topics just don't see very fitting for a movie technically targeted at children. For starters, the movie really focuses on how people become wasteful, lazy, and dependent on large corporations; in this case, Buy N Large, is the owner of everything: transportation, banks, you name it, they're practically the government. In fact, it's because of them that the Earth is covered in trash and why the humans had to leave on their spacecrafts. Throughout the film there are allusions to improper evolution due to laziness: missing bones, large fat bodies, and inability to think for themselves. It's not something directly said, but the older audience is sure to pick up things like this. It really gives the movie a purpose, but whether people get the message or not depends on how much they care. From my observations, parents saw the film as dumb because of the lack of dialog and whatnot, and leaving their trash on the ground. But in reality, they're the same people the film tries to portray, which makes it so much more relavent.

What I really liked about the film is that it was a change of pace for Pixar, and felt very experimental, in a good way. For one, this is Pixar's first attempt at science fiction and the first to not feature voice actors. Both are welcome additions, I've already stated my feelings on voice actors above, so I'd really like to talk about the sci-fi aspect of the film. It's really the best thing I've seen Pixar do with it's stunning rendering technology. Adding the sci-fi element allowed them to really experiment in the portrayal of space and all different types of robotic forms, something never really seen in a Pixar film before. In a way, WALL-E does for space what Finding Nemo did for the ocean, creating a fantastic recreation of something real that we can only imagine how it looks up close. But also on the topic of rendering, this is the finest 3D technology I have ever seen on film. The textures are so detailed, and the lighting is just amazing, especially the textures of Earth, it's as if they film a real apocalypse. Which brings me to the next topic, this is the first Pixar film to utilize live action, breath for a moment; yes there are live action segments to the film, but they re actually quite fitting. There are two uses for it, the old musicals that WALL-E watches in his containment unit, and advertisements from BnL. Both are never displayed clearly, as they're all under a TV screen like filter, but they do a great job of portraying how different the past is to the film current state (the future). Other forms of animation, like traditional 2D, stop motion, and digital 2D are used as well, but these are only seen in the credits.

All in all, I was excited for WALL-E before it came out, and I was quite pleased after seeing it. Sure, the WALL-E / EVE love story is really what makes this fitting of the Disney name, but the topics of a post apocalyptic world really make this stand out in both the Disney and Pixar catalogs. Mix that in with Pixar's top of the line technology, and a little live action tossed in and the result is something the children will enjoy watching, and a film that adults with a brain will appreciate. I'll be honest in saying that I didn't have too much respect for the 3D animation industry until seeing this film. I really just saw it as a way for studios to make easy cash, which it's still percieved as, just look at the lack of 2D films released in recent years. But after seeing WALL-E, I can see there is a chance that the medium can be a true art form, and I just hope more studios can take note of that.

Overall Score: 9.6/10


Hampig said...

You know, you are the first person to bring up the whole incest aspect. Doesn't surprise me at all though. Either way, nice review, I was kind of on the fence on seeing this, I had heard it was good and was still meh, but the themes seem pretty interesting and Wall-e is just so awesome, so I think it will warrant a rental.

3d animation in pakistan said...

I just love how you write. Reading your blog for me is like sitting down and having a conversation with you. You always make me smile and you have a way with words.

Just thought I'd tell you in case you didn't know. :-)

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