In 2700, after hundreds of years doing what he was built for, WALL-E (voice of Ban Burtt), short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth class, discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when a sleek life-seeking robot, EVE (voice of Elissa Knight), is delivered to Earth by a spaceship, dispatched by the automated system aboard the Axiom - where humans have been existing in a peculiar state of robot-assisted daze for 700 years. EVE comes to realize that WALL-E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet's future, and is sent back to space to report her findings to the mother ship - to advise that it is safe to return home. Meanwhile, WALL-E chases EVE across the galaxy.
Review by Louise Keller:
Wonderfully inventive, this whimsical sci-fi animation from the wizards at Pixar is topical in its environmental message and full of heart when it comes to its robot/ droid romance. Brilliant execution allows much of the communications throughout WALL-E to be wordless, with smartly used sound effects. While it's entertaining, amusing and heartwarming, the big surprise is that we become totally involved in the film's reality, and champion the rusty little robot that loses whatever heart he happens to have to the pristine, sleek super-model programmed droid EVE.
Although his job of clearing rubbish is mechanical, the endearing and hard-working robot whose acronym is WALL-E has some ultra human characteristics. These include being tickled by his lone companion of a cockroach and emotionally touched by the love scenes in his favourite movie - the Jerry Herman musical numbers from Hello Dolly. We know he is sentimental because when he takes EVE back to his place, he tries to impress her with all the special things he has been gathering, like a Rubik's Cube, an egg beater, a light bulb and a piece of bubble wrap which EVE pops bubble by bubble with great curiosity. The first section of the film with its dark production design firmly establishes the state of the world and the little robot's daily tasks of compacting all the rubbish he collects. Then begins the grand adventure as robot and droid return to mothership Axiom, where we see obese humans living in a type of 5 star luxury that enables their existence without moving from their blow-up chairs. There's genuine excitement as WALL•E and EVE are expelled into space with a first kiss that makes the robot light headed, and a series of events in which man starts a mutiny against the machines.
Andrew Stanton, the man behind Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc and Toy Story has the imagination and skills to make this creative and ingenious animated film work on many levels and while the voices may not play the key roles, it's with a tip of the hat to the sci-fi genre that Sigourney Weaver is cast as the voice of the spaceship computer. The underlying environmental message comes across strongly but never with heavy hands and the miracle of the film is that we connect with a little industrious robot that makes a difference and finds love to boot.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
WALL-E takes 'cute' right up to the experts of the cuteness business, the Japanese, and promises parents a nagging aftermath of kids wanting WALL-E (voice of Ben Burrt) for pets and playmates. And who can resist? Even EVE (voice of Elissa Knight), a robotic searcher - Extraterrestrial Vegetation Searcher - in what was and could be Paradise (not a subtle symbolism for the Christians), is smitten by this chunky, waste crunching loner who, on finding another moving entity in his shattered world, wants to hold her hand. He's such a romantic; and so into musicals! His favourite show is Hello Dolly! which is on permanent play on his video - via VHS tape!
The film has a sneaky message side, too, glimpsed through many large and small details, notably with the humans who are now all so obese [and so homogenously alike] they have to be ferried about in cushioned chairs as they eat and drink pap made and sold by the global brand, Buy N Large - a clever multiplay pun. (Work it out.)
The film is full of marvellous invention, and the simple basic story gets it through even when the invention and sense of fun overtakes the filmmakers and confusion reigns for a while. But it's fun confusion, always turning the other cheeky gag, elaborately and brilliantly animated. All of this is done with our hero and heroine having scant dialogue; they wheeze robotically but with limited vocab, consisting of "Walll-eee" and "Eve-a". But still they both communicate everything we need to know - and most of it is emotional suggestion of a very human kind.
In what must be a tongue in cheek nod to his Antipodean origins, writer/director Andrew Stanton has named the CEO of Buy N Large, Shelby Forthright (the only genuine human seen in the film), which is played with his usual dose of edgy, wry wit by Fred Willard. I always think he might do or say something unpredictable (or unprintable) any second.
Messages and symbolism aside, WALL-E is just like a theme park ride (there'll probably be one before I post this review) - something the Disney people know very well. And do very well. Here, being not just the Mouse House but now Pixar's house as well, the studio is set to launch into the movie equivalent of lightspeed, towards the green house where green is the new black - as in being 'in the black'.
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CAST: Fred Willard
VOICES: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimi, Sigourney Weaver
PRODUCER: Jim Morris
DIRECTOR: Andrew Stanton
SCRIPT: Andrew Stanton
EDITOR: Stephen Schaffer
MUSIC: Thomas Newman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ralph Eggleston
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 18, 2008
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.