WALL•E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is a friendly and extremely efficient robot that spends his days trying to tidy up a major mess left by the human inhabitants of earth. It seems that the Big-N-Large conglomerate, which owned everything and is the epitome of commercialism, made some mistakes along the way. Earth can no longer support life and so the company built space ships that would allow earthlings to cruise the universe until earth could support life once again.
WALL•E is sensitive and collects common items like lighters, light bulbs and kitchen utensils. He has set up an elaborate sorting system in a trailer and at the end of each day, puts them carefully in their place. WALL•E is a robot so you wouldn’t expect him to have emotions. But he is lonely and this is made even more pronounced as he watches the movie Hello Dolly on VHS day after day.
One day a robot piloted space ship lands in WALL•E’s backyard. Out comes a sleek and sexy model that we soon find out is named EVE. She is there on a routine mission to look for any signs of life on earth. WALL•E falls for EVE and tries to romance her with dancing and holding her hand. He shows her a living plant that he found during one of his clean-ups and she immediately whisks it back to the Big-N-Large command space ship, the Axiom.
WALL•E does not want to lose EVE so he clamps onto the ship and rides it to the Axiom, which is… well, it’s a nightmare. For over 700 years the Axiom has been traversing the universe, run by robots. It’s full of humans that have been brainwashed into the Big-N-Large cult and are unable to think or feel. Finally the humans regain their mettle and take back the ship, and eventually their pride and place as homo sapiens.
Pixar and writer/director Andrew Stanton have created another stunning showcase for their technology storytelling. It’s rich in detail and packed with the clever twists and humor we have come to expect from their productions. Having man and machine switch emotional roles was a brilliant device. The film reaches for ambitious themes of relationship, individualism and the importance of a working society, but falls short. The challenge of trying to convey these ideas without dialogue was perhaps too tall an order, as the film’s heavy lifting is left solely to visuals and sound.
There are enough things going on in WALL•E to keep your eyes and ears interested, but your mind will find a way to allow your day to day life leak in. At the very least films should be escapism, at their best they push us to think and re-evaluate our lives, our politics, even our future. Unfortunately WALL•E doesn’t do either. There was much I enjoyed, but Pixar has set the bar very high, and WALL•E didn’t make it.
Visit the official WALL•E site, which is way cool.
Photo Credits: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar