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Wall-E is E-pic

Movie title: Wall-E (2008)
Grade: A+ (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: PG
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producers: Jim Morris, Lindsey Collins
Starring (voice): Ben Burtt “Wall-E,” Elissa Knight “Eve,” Jeff Garlin “Captain,” MacInTalk “Auto,” John Ratzenberger “John,” Kathy Najimy “Mary,” Sigourney Weaver (Ship's Computer Voice)
Genre: Comedy/Family/Adventure/Animation/Romance/Sci-Fi
Summation: In the future, earth is void of humans. Wall-E (a waste allocation robot on earth) meets Eve (a life search robot from space), and the two find a new purpose in life.
Spoilers ahead: No

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Being a movie critic can be hard on the eyes. Imagine sacrificing two or more hours of your life on a regular basis to attentively view films that feel like they are slowly turning your brain to oatmeal! It’s not always fun, believe me! Only rarely does a movie exceed hopelessly average standards and rise to the heights of greatness. So naturally, when that does happen, we take a few moments to stop and breathe in the fresh air of the event.

I was totally blown away by Wall-E. I had no idea what I was in for. Disney and Pixar really outdid themselves here. Academy Award-winning director Andrew Stanton (director of “Finding Nemo”) and Pixar Animation Studios (works include “The Incredibles,” “Cars,” and “Ratatouille”) put their heads together. The result was a truly amazing achievement.

“Magical,” “brilliant,” “enchanting,” “iconic,” and of course, “ingeniously creative” are just a few of the choice words I would use to describe this adventurous presentation. And with my outspoken dislike of modern animation, let me quickly go on record in admitting that in Wall-E we have one in relatively few films where the animation compliments and actually enhances the storyline instead of trying to replace it!

Virtually every scene is visual candy. Imagine twenty speechless minutes passing by, and yet you’re nowhere near bored. I’ve never seen so much data transferred to an audience without a word spoken, like scenes where Wall-E finds a “spork” and is unable to classify it as a spoon or a fork, so he gives it its own spot on the shelf—good mind candy, I must say! Even when it was speechless, it was entrancing!

I’ve never seen anything like it! This could be the next E.T. or Bambi. Only, the targeted audience is not children, but adults. But let’s not forget that although charming and amusing, Wall-E is a less-than-flattering evaluation of humanity (both in the film and in real life). It makes us do some serious self-reflection and tells a lot; (1) mankind is lazy, having been rendered incompetent by the machines he created. Our own drives for convenience and ease will be our undoing. But mankind is not useless because (2) mankind and the machines have become symbiotic; we need the machines to advance us, but the machines could have done nothing without the creation, the drives, and the direction of human impulses. They need us as purpose-givers. But the point of real self-reflection comes at the next consideration; (3) the machines we created outshine us; what we enabled them to do, they can do better. Will their capabilities (continually advancing as they are) one day include our capacity for love? That’s what the story of Wall-E is all about.

Can a machine be a better “human” than a human? Is our future bright? What will the role of machines be in our future? Will we humble ourselves to learn from the machines, and in turn, be better humans? Are we willing to admit that we only mean well, but have a long way to go in doing well? Will we face the fact that just because we have a concept of goodness and the desire to exalt love, that we are not the be-all-and-end-all of it?

The story of Wall-E and Eve pokes plenty of fun at the human race while exemplifying love. Almost every segment of every scene is a soft parody of life, seconding it while taking humor from it. You’ll let out a heartfelt burst of laughter as you behold the efforts of Wall-E trying to tear away a fat human from her computer screen—not unlike many of us today who are already glued to our monitors!

By way of faults, the movie has few. Get ready to hear the name “Wall-E” more times than you care to. My one big complaint with the film is that the name is said so many times that it becomes nearly annoying to the point of “Okay already!” It’s the only glaring fault in the film, though there are a number of fleeting scenes of too-human emotions in the bots. The overplaying of human emotion is a common fault among movies where machines are the chosen vessels to portray human feelings, but it is a forgivable error.

Wall-E isn’t for everyone. Those who won’t like it are those diehard, humanity-is-wonderful realists who tend to either shy away from or hate fantasy and/or technology. Wall-E requires a somewhat progressive mindset to appreciate, and there are those who are simply not ready for it. They will get nothing from the film and only be annoyed by its clever antics. It’s ok not to be drawn to a movie (we all have our own personal tastes), but it’s never ok to spit on ingenuity and progress due to our lack of it.

Wall-E is powerful, the imagery magical, and the animation wonderful. Four stars for Wall-E, a journey of the mind and heart you won’t soon forget!

(JH)

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