Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blue Sky Review: Wall-E...


In brief...

Genius. A masterpiece of storytelling. Pixar's most beautiful film to date. Those looking for the downfall of Pixar will have to hope that "Up" will bring it down because their ninth film "Wall-E" won't...

Is it better than "The Incredibles"? Is it the best film Pixar has ever made?

No. That's my opinion of course.

But "Wall-E" is a great addition to the other eight films the Lamp has created over the last thirteen years. It's one of the top films of the year and is one in my top four Pixar films as well.

Andrew Stanton knows very well how to tell a story. We know this from his work on many of the first Pixar films and his directorial debut, "Finding Nemo"... he cements that belief with "Wall-E". It's a story with a very clear narrative that is startlingly simple and powerful. This film evokes a lot of the films of Chaplin or Keaton and has the ability to transcend dialog during the first act almost entirely. And it's enjoyable too... Stanton and the crew over at Pixar realize that film is a visual medium.

While the story is divided into three acts it is essentially set in two worlds. The one Wall-E starts out in and the one he's thrust into after meeting Eve. The desolate Earth that humans ravaged and left behind and generation star ships they've become slaves to. Each world is filled with problems. Each place has reasons why you shouldn't be there. But for all that high-minded stuff, this film is really just a straight-out, old fashioned and corny at times love story... it's just set seven hundred years in the future and focuses is on a robot that has become more human while humans have become more like robots.

The environmental message is also handled with tack and subtlety. While most messages that Hollywood tries to send out about the environment are delivered with a sledge hammer, Stanton lets his message enter very gently and without it becoming the focus of movie. The main thing I worried about upon hearing about this story was the message being too preachy. I'm happy to report that it's not and I thank Stanton for not pounding us over the head with it.

The voice work is spot on and the sound design is nothing short of amazing. The visuals that occupy this film make you think you're watching a live-action film for the longest period of time. The images in this film are a testament to the geniuses at Pixar. They are at the top of their game.

the movie is also surprisingly more mature and adult than I would have thought. The messages and tone of the story carry across the fingerprints of 70's science fiction. I thought that "Ratatouille" had a tone that was remarkably more sophisticated and adult than the previous films and "Wall-E" continues this tradition. Pixar films are all good, most are better than the majority of live-action films out there and they are always different. No two films are alike except for the Toy Story sequel of course. It's refreshing to know that each time I go into a theater to watch a Pixar film, when the lights darken I will always find something new and something unlike what I saw before. Other studios would be smart to follow their model of creating films, but they won't... they don't want to believe the simple truth behind Pixar's success. They want to mimic it, to break it down into a simple mathematical equation that they can just stamp on their product.

"Wall-E" succeeds because it is everything most films in Hollywood aren't. It's entertaining. It's original. It's intelligent. It's a whole lot of fun. I've only seen two movies more than once this year. One is "Kung Fu Panda" and the other is "Wall-E"...

If you want to go see a film worth seeing over and over again, go see Andrew Stanton's little treasure. Just like Wall-E when he meets Eve, you'll fall in love...

A NOTE:

The short attached to this film, "Presto," the new short subject directed by animator Doug Sweetland is awesome. It is the best short Pixar has ever made and I can only hope that Lasseter has got Sweetland working on directing a feature length film... cause if he doesn't, someone else soon will.

25 comments:

kpeekelement said...

Agreed, easily the best movies i've ever seen. It was rather dark at the beginning which caught me off-guard, because in the trailer the earth segments are all happy. But I am older so it made sense to me why it was there. Other than that yeah it was brilliant. My favorite pixar movie.

Kevin said...

Terrific review of a terrific film. Everything about this experience thrilled me - from the Bolt trailer to the Presto short to the movie itself. What a wonderful film.

Corruption said...

Honor,

Yes, this movie was damned near perfect. It's honestly succeeded my wildy high expectations and is in my top 5 films of all time.

I still think, however, that One Man Band is the best short to ever come out of Pixar ;)

Honor Hunter said...

We'll just have to disagree on "One Man Band", Corruption...

I really like that short, but I loved "Presto" far more and look forward to the day Sweetland gets a directing gig. This guy is a talent not to be wasted.

Here's hoping the "Glago's Guest" that Williams directed is as good... I read Jerry Beck's review of it and he loved it, but it sounds very different. But isn't different what we're all clamoring for? Isn't different what "Wall-E" is?

Oh, wait... I gotta quit posting such long comments. If I'm gonna do that I might as well make them actual post that you can comment on.

Anonymous said...

Just saw Wall e and oh well...absolutely stunning graphics..story was flat throughout though. The short at the begining was fabulous and better than the film....it happens.

And "BOLT" appears to be another fish out of water tale...always works though..even wall e was a bit of the same genre. Wall e never transformed or grew as the lead is supposed to..just another day at the office..can't wait for Brad Bird's next offering..he understands characture development. Lassiter must be spread a little thin on this one...common John.

RWR

Anonymous said...

I think you guys are way off the mark, cuz "Lifted" is the best Pixar short, end of story.

Spokker said...

I loved the movie and I do think the message was pretty heavy handed. It's on big glowing and floating TV screens all throughout Axiom. They shove it down your throat harder than the residents of Axiom shove cupcakes down their throats.

It's not a bad thing. I'm really glad this movie was made. Here's a comment I read on a fat acceptance blog:

"This is definitely going to be an issue at my house. My 4-year-old has seen previews for this for ages and has been running around the house saying, "WALL-E" in that robot voice for months now. I can't imagine how we're going to get away with NOT seeing it. On the other hand, I have no idea how to talk with him about what he's likely to see. Oh, Pixar...why have you forsaken me?"

Oh boy, a movie making you discuss something with your kid? Oh no, he might even find out that being a fat sack of crap isn't the healthiest thing in the world!

t said...

^You know Spokker, you're not very articulate. You can state things without having to always resort to forms of insulting..."fat sack of crap"...While WALL-E has a powerful message, there is no need to disrespect people of size.

Spokker said...

"You know Spokker, you're not very articulate. You can state things without having to always resort to forms of insulting"

But my intention is to be insulting to the person that wrote that comment.

On another comment I read, a woman refused to spend *her husband's* money to see Wall-E because she didn't approve of its message. To assume she weighs 300 pounds and her husband wants to hang himself because he's married to her isn't out of this world.

t said...

Spokker, you need to watch it.
No wonder you've been banned from boards.

We don't need that kind of disrespect around here.
Honor's blog is to good for that.

Spokker said...

You are humorless. I wonder if you don't enjoy any stand-up comedians because they, oh my God, insult people.

I love how these cows are mooing about Wall-E's insulting portrayal of "fluffies". I hope they all boycott Disney, so maybe they'll be more room at Disneyland for the rest of us who aren't completely out of control.

t said...

Humorless I am not. My ultimate is George Carlin. Now, if there's anyone who insults people...

Now, if your intention was to actually be funny, then I obviously didn't get it...or you're not very good at it. You do need to realize that tone and delivery are hard to discern through the computer screen.

Sorry sweetie, Carlin you are not.

Stephen said...

Initial reports are that WALL-E made $62.5M for the weekend...besting Wanted. Does anyone know off the top of their heads how this stacks up against other Pixar movie opening weekends?

Spokker said...

Wanted actually made more per theater than Wall-E, and also cost a hundred million less to produce.

Of course, Wall-E will go on to sell merchandise and possibly inspire a theme park ride, but I wonder how happy Disney is with Wall-E's performance.

I also wonder if Pixar agreed to do Cars 2, a huge money maker, so that they can continue to do the Ratatouille's and Wall-E's.

C33 said...

If current predictions hold true, WallE will come in third place for Pixar opening weekends, behind Finding Nemo in second and The Incredibles in first.

I agree Honor. A great movie. I didn't think it was better than The Incredibles...but it doesn't need to be. They are different movies with different messages and visions.

And as for shorts- well, personally I like For the Birds the best, but that's just me...

Anonymous said...

"Spokker, you need to watch it.
No wonder you've been banned from boards."

If I recall correctly, he was banned from Mouseinfo after making fun about someones death.

He is simply the type that should not be around sites like these. He tries to mask himself by going "I have a right to have a negative opinion" but when it comes to insults like this, you can see why he is not a good person.

Spokker said...

"If I recall correctly, he was banned from Mouseinfo after making fun about someones death."

I made fun of the Disneyland Hotel suicide by embedding the Goofy howl in a thread. It's pretty hilarious to people who aren't totally bland and boring.

I think I also said that he jumped because of the changes being made to Small World and that he was wearing a Save the Rainforest t-shirt.

Anonymous said...

I think that, while Wall-E was very well done and had some significant messages, my first concern came with the choice of music. I found myself getting antsy during some of the early scenes with the music and video. And I’m certainly closer to the demographic that should appreciate them than the kids that would prefer something at least a decade or three more relevant.

The use of video tape (what’s that doing that far in the future?) is also out of relevance. A CD would have made much more sense and connected more with the younger set. I get the feeling that someone in the story sessions had at least one foot in that earlier era (and must have had enough power to push them through). But, for a movie that is based on events triggered a time far in our future, that resulted in 700 years of clean-up after that, those various elements that Wall-E comes across are almost ancient. Even in OUR time.

Anyway, outside of little issues like that, the film was totally engaging and enjoyable.

Honor Hunter said...

Disney is very happy with the opening just so you guys know...

"Behold, the power the power of the Lamp!" Hehe...

Good stuff ahead in both the theater and the parks! Sigh... if I could only say more, but alas, I can't.

what is it coming to... said...

I support spoker... He's funny... and has kind of a good point, the message wasn't that forced though...

Now ducking...

Mr. Lincoln said...

"Wanted actually made more per theater than Wall-E, and also cost a hundred million less to produce."

But you have to take into account that "Wanted" had significantly fewer children's ticket admissions, and "Wanted" played on almost a thousand less screens than "Wall E" the fact that it made more per theater is insignificant.

Ill bet in the end of its domestic run "Wall E" will make up the 100 Mill production difference over "Wanted" as well, if we are going to compare numbers.

Anonymous said...

Wall-E is one of my favorite PIXAR movies because it was more mature and has a serious message that needs to be put out there...without being way too The Inconvenient Truth preachy and providing you with a funny, entertaining movie with an important message at the same time. I wonder what Al Gore thinks of Wall-E? Hmm

And I disagree that all PIXAR films are a new different experience. I mean, im not sure but didn't DreamWorks release Antz before A Bugs Life? other than that, though, most Pixar films are original concepts.

Honor Hunter said...

"Antz" came out shortly before "A Bug's Life", but Pixar started production well before Dreamworks did. Dreamworks hurried production to beat "ABL" to release. There was a feeling among Eisner, Lasseter and others that Katzenberg and company were trying to copy Disney-Pixar at the time...

dchall said...

"There was a feeling among Eisner, Lasseter and others that Katzenberg and company were trying to copy Disney-Pixar at the time..."

Not just a feeling, they knew it (according to books like DisneyWar and The Pixar Touch, anyway). Katzenberg had left Disney in the middle of production for A Bug's Life, and we all know he didn't leave with the greatest of feelings.

Lasseter had already shared all the movie's secrets with him. When Katzenberg went to head Dreamworks Animation, he rushed development of Antz to beat A Bug's Life seemingly to get back at his former employer.

This is why Pixar is now very secretive about its future projects.

Anonymous said...

"presto" is now available for download on itunes! enjoy