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What can I say about Pixar? They are amazing, both for the high quality of their animation and, more importantly, for putting as much effort into their stories and characters as they do into their very cool animation. This has been a killer combo, and their films have all done very well indeed at the box office, Toy Story ($192M), A Bug's Life ($163M), Toy Story 2 ($246M), Monsters Inc. ($256M), Finding Nemo ($340M), The Incredibles ($261M), Cars ($244M), and Ratatouille ($206M). And they are all pretty good. This has been brought back to me lately, since I have been watching lots of Pixar films during my quality time with Ellie and Chia. I've seen Nemo and Monsters Inc. about a hundred times, and they wear very well, even in Italian. I have only ever seen Cars in Italian, which may be why it is my least favorite Pixar film.
The newest film from Pixar is WALL-E. It tells the story of a lonely robot who was left on Earth thousands of years ago to clean up the trash after all the humans left. He is the last robot survivor, still doing his job every day of collecting and compacting garbage, and then building trash skyscrapers to rival the real ones. WALL-E has developed some quirks over the years. He collects unusual things that he finds in the trash like Rubik's cubes and lighters. And he constantly plays an old tape of Hello Dolly, watching it in a romantic haze. WALL-E is not just lonely but also lovelorn. But his life changes forever one day when a spaceship lands and another robot disembarks; not just any robot but a beautiful female robot named Eve. It is love at first sight for WALL-E; not so much for Eve who is decidedly unromantic to the point that she uses her blaster to try and fry WALL-E. I won't spoil what few plot elements there are, but the two robots end up back with the humans who have been, literally, lying around for thousands of years. Much action ensues and eventually some robot romance.
WALL-E is also another amazing step forward in animation, if you still want to call it that. The backgrounds and the humans still look cartoonish, but the scenes that are closeups of WALL-E and his surroundings look very much as if they have been filmed live. The pictures included here really don't it justice. You have to go see it to believe it. Plus, there are lots of the usual Pixar cute, funny bits. When WALL-E charges himself up each morning with his solar panels, there's a nice Mac boing indicating that he is fully charged. Besides WALL-E, the most memorable character is the captain of the spaceship, really a cruise ship, that has been carrying the humans for eons. He is very entertaining as he gamely tries to take "one small step for a man." Since there is so little dialog, there isn't the huge array of Hollywood stars doing the voices. WALL-E is voiced by Ben Burtt who is an Oscar winning sound guy from ILM. Fred Willard appears in human form as the long dead CEO of the company that employed WALL-E. And Sigourney Weaver voices the evil ship computer. And there's even an actual short cartoon, Presto, shown before WALL-E.
WALL-E is very heartwarming, both the film and its eponymous hero. WALL-E is so lovable a character that the absence of a complex plot or even complex dialog doesn't hurt the movie much. In fact, unlike the other Pixar films, where the characters all tend to be very talkative, there is very little dialog here since WALL-E doesn't say much beyond Eve's name and Eve says even less. We do get some more dialog in the second half of the movie when the humans and a nasty computer get involved. WALL-E is very light on plot but makes up for it with WALL-E's emotional journey from ennui to love. He is definitely one of the great Pixar creations. WALL-E is fun for the whole family. Go see it.