Thursday, July 3, 2008

hello, dolly!

If I had written my review of Wall-E right after I'd seen it on Friday night, I can pretty much guarantee that the whole thing would have read like "AwwwOooohCuuuuteSweeetSqueeee!~" so you can all be grateful that I gave myself a few days to absorb all of the animated awesomeness compounded in this Pixar treat. I have often wondered what it is about me that animated movies never seem to stick with me. Other than Dumbo and The Little Mermaid, I was not a Disney fanatic as a child like most little girls, and any of the ones that I've seen as an older viewer just haven't made much of an impression on me. But when I saw ten minutes of Wall-E roaming around the wasteland of Earth at Comic Con 2007, I was hooked.

The movie is more than I could have expected in every aspect. The animation was more ambitious than anything I've ever seen, the characters were more adorable and sympathetic than you'd think could have an impact on jaded grownups like yours truly, and the messages conveyed by the simple storytelling were both meaningful and impressively portrayed. I'll break it down into those categories from here on it, or else it will devolve into the oohs and aahs I'm trying to avoid.

As far as animation is concerned, there are people who know much more about the history and technology of animated films that will tell you how impressive this latest effort from Pixar is. As far as I am concerned, it looked as if each item had a team of experts working with the animation team to ensure accuracy. The starscapes and glimpses of the sky were incredibly rendered, reminiscent of the beautiful images of the ocean in Finding Nemo. The mechanics of the robots were smooth or clunky when required, and very impressive. Reflections off of EVE's curved surfaces, or the minute working parts in Wall-E's "house" were all very believable.

The characters were incredibly well fleshed-out, considering that most of them had no flesh to begin with. (chortle) Every small movement or action added to my understanding of who Wall-E has become in his years of solitude, and his actions which related to EVE were understandable without being pathetic. When he is on the space station, the way in which he compulsively introduces himself to everyone he meets, and indelibly affects their lives in doing so, really said a lot about the humanity of this small robot. The human characters were exceptionally well performed, and I liked how their inherent goodness cohesed with the underlying message of the movie. Even the Hal-inspired actions of Autopilot were terrifying while still being the product of a programmed command, instead of a personified computer villain. As for EVE, the moment when she got to watch the security footage of Wall-E tending to her was absolutely heartbreaking, and beautifully animated.

Certainly, the movie's message about conservation and what could happen to Earth and to humans if we let our consumption get out of hand, was strongly present throughout. Showing the Captain learning about what life was once life on Earth softened the edge of the cutting social criticism, because once any good person really thinks about working a little bit harder to do the right thing, the line, "I don't want to survive, I want to live!" really resonates. The only problem, I guess, would be the criticism of big corporations, coming from Disney and Apple, which is very reminiscent of this "biting" satire.

Please, please see Wall-E. It was a very exciting moment in movies and in animation, and I can't wait to see it again.

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