Who knew beeps and bleeps could be so interesting?
Abandoning dialogue for a sizable portion of a film in favour of a bunch of mechanical clinks and toots let off by a garbage compactor doesn’t exactly sound like the smartest move a filmmaker could make. But I guess we’re not talking about ordinary filmmakers here.
The team at Pixar have again crafted something of a masterpiece in the bright, colourful world of animation. With WALL E they take a stab at something that hasn’t really been mastered since Stanley Kubrick gave us the wordless wonder of 2001: A Space Odyssey: a film which truly works without the incessant natter of dialogue.
It’s the character that really gives this film the edge. The rusty little unit with the big heart and dough eyes is undeniably cute and entertaining, even if all he says for the first hour is his own name. Adding a love interest is standard Disney fare but it must be said that the swooning WALL E is an easy route to the audience’s hearts which the studio could not pass up.
Visually, this film hit all the right notes and in terms of story, WALL E is definitely on to something. But for me, there is one little issue that I couldn’t shake from my mind as I watched the story unfold. The film presents a universe where humans have become, to put it mildly, fat, lazy slobs. These human balloons laze about in portable chairs all day, exerting energy only to eat and drink. Worse still, their chairs boast TV screens fixed right in front of the occupant’s face. In other words the filmmakers paint a picture of a society which we are supposed to frown upon as we watch, disgusted by their laziness. But in reality, it’s companies like Disney who are the ones plonking our kids in front of the TV sets in the first place. The studio is so blatant in its portrayal of an obese, exercise-free society in WALL E that I struggled to watch this film without wondering if it was all a little hypocritical.
The film is a splendid visual treat; it’s bold and rare and if you can get past any issues you may have with the mixed messages, you’ll love it.
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