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Sunday, June 29, 2008

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Posted By on Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 9:21 AM

MOVIEGOER REVIEW: "WALL-E"

Scientists, for the past three decades, have been warning about ozone emissions, carbon dioxide levels, the rising temperature of the earth and humans overwhelming ability to consume at alarming rates thereby creating a state of global warming, pollution and environmental chaos unexpected at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. 

It may appear upon a first reading that I would be summarizing “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Academy Award-winning documentary featuring former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore.  And you’d be correct except that I’m not.

The ramifications of what I’ve written about above set the stage for the year’s most delightful film to date, “Wall-E” from Pixar Animated Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.  Set some 800-plus years in the future, the earth has been overrun by trash.  Human beings abandoned it by flocking to space aboard a giant ship where they’re chauffeured around in robotic chairs, fat and lazy and ignorant to the world around them.

Back on earth, however, a small robot known as a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class (thus, Wall-E) spends his days gobbling up trashing, smashing into a block and stacking them so high that they appear as buildings from far away.  He’s also a curious little fellow, and he collects things in a small red and white cooler and takes them back to his home, an abandoned vehicle of some sort that also serves as a haven from re-occurring sand storms.

Wall-E’s accompanied by his friend, a small cockroach, who spends his days scurrying around the trash-infested wasteland he and Wall-E call home.  Until one day, a visitor comes to town.  An Extra-Terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator or, EVE, comes in search of plant life that might bring the humans aboard her vessel back home.  EVE is a sleek and sexy robot with cold blue eyes whereas Wall-E is rusty and dirty; a figment of the past. Think Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in “The African Queen.”

For the first third of the movie there is no dialogue.  A risk in any other film, it’s what makes this film so incredible.  We hang of Wall-E’s every move and pay careful attention to the landscape majestically constructed by the thoughtful director Andrew Stanton.  He’s created a world that his filthy; an overt nod to the consequences of our current actions.  But it is not without hope, thanks to Wall-E, whose curiosity uncovers the vegetation EVE came in search of.

In a year mired by Technicolor burnouts (“Speed Racer”) and environmental mishaps (“The Happening”), “Wall-E” strikes the perfect tone between fear and hope; love and loss.  Thus, when I saw the two little robots in love floating through space, Wall-E’s momentum ignited by a fire extinguisher, I was reminded of the beauty of animation and the ability to tell a wonderful story using hardly any words. 

Bravo, Mr. Stanton.  Bravo.

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