When Disney decided to close their traditional animation studio and focus all their efforts on computer animation, I was sad to hear about the downfall of the kingdom of dreams. Then the news about Pixar’s taking over Disney broke. Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the how the contract negotiation between the two companies turned out. To me, Pixar represents the core values of Walt Disney. They believe in the power of animation with creative stories and lovable characters. Year after year, Pixar continues to push the envelop and produces the best animated films out there. And this summer, Pixar introduces us to a robot that could be more human than any of us in WALL‧E.
700 years in the future, Earth is no longer suitable for inhabitation. WALL‧E is a robot designated to clean up the mess left by the humans. As the sole resident of the planet, he develops his own routine of the day, befriends a cockroach, and enjoys watching old musical on VHS, which also provides the soundtrack of his life. One day, a huge spaceship lands and releases a probe robot, EVA. Intimated at first, WALL‧E soon becomes fond of EVA’s companionship, regardless of whether "she" feels the same way or not. WALL‧E eagerly shows his collection of useful items uncovered during his daily scavenging. A plant activated EVA’s lockdown sequence. Fearing that he’s lost the only one of his kind again, WALL‧E follows EVA to the end of earth and beyond, and discovered that human have not disappeared at all. They just live on a luxurious mothership called Axiom now, sipping food from a cup, relying on computers and robots to do all their biddings, and thus become so fat that they’re unable to walk, and so ignorant of the world outside their computer screens that they cease to notice the beauty surrounding them. EVA’s successful mission represents a renewed opportunity to return to Earth, but will human give up their comfortable lifestyle and start over? Or WALL‧E and EVA’s objective is no longer more meaningful than the latest fashion that can be downloaded from the internet?
WALL‧E is a bold movie for a summer animated release, because it contains no dialogue during the first 30-minute or so. It challenges the short attention span of kids and MTV generation adults alike. But this is essential to establish WALL‧E’s loneliness, allowing us to get to know his good nature and grow to love him. (This part of the movie totally reminds me of I Am Legend, minus the zombies, of course) When he watches the video and longs to hold hands and dance with someone, we see that he’s a true romantic at heart. He is like a child, who can be naive to the point of being annoying, but because he’s so innocent, it is difficult to dislike him. Our emotions follow that of EVA’s, who is irritated when WALL‧E gets in the way of her mission at first, but become to care about him throughout the film.
Pixar is really ages head of other animation studios in their craft, just as Disney was always the leader in feature-length animated films. The movement of the robots and the details of everything on screen is breathtaking. Only then can those robotic "eyes" and "hands" carry so much emotion that make them humanlike and make us believe. My only problem was when WALL‧E and EVA keep calling each other repeatedly and say nothing else, it was almost laughable but tolerable because they’re just so cute.
WALL‧E is special in a way because there is no bona fide villains in the film. Humans are not lazy in nature (which may not be true in reality), they are just so accustomed to their automated lifestyle where everything is taken care of. When given the opportunity, they still have the courage to venture into the unknown and explore. And they are rewarded by a new — or should I say old? — world full of possibilities. Even the villainous autopilot is merely following his program and calculated decision. When it all comes down to it, humans are brave enough to take a stand and fight for a better future. Just like what the captain of Axiom says, "I don’t want to survive. I want to live!"
And with that exclamation, and with the help of a bunch of adorable robots, the future Earth may be depicted as dirty pile of garbage, there is still hope. Just like old Walt would have liked.
- The main character’s name is actually an acronym, standing for "Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-class." EVE stands for "Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator" and M-O stands for "Microbe Obliterator."
- All photos © 2008 Disney PIXAR