What a sweet movie, what a cute film. Who else but Pixar could make a movie that’s animation, science-fiction, comedy, spaceships, green — and romance…and make it all work?
And the tributes to other movies of this genre! In the same way that Pixar’s The Incredibles paid tribute to early James Bond movies with its music, cinematography, and sets, so too this movie pays tribute to other movies and TV shows about space (Alien), science-fiction (2001: a space odyssey, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica) and even sea voyages (Titanic). Keep an eye out for HAL’s eye from 2001 as well as some music you’ll instantly recognize, the sound effects of Star Trek‘s “red alert” and phaser blast, the voice of a Battlestar Cylon centurion — and Sigourney Weaver‘s voice as the ship computer! Look carefully, and you’ll see tributes to The Wizard of Oz and The Dream Team. And if you have a penchant for the history of space, if you look quickly, you’ll see Sputnik.
In the same way, as The Incredibles has its own cinematic feel, so does this film, more than a cartoon, it has a lived-in feel as WALL-E seems to have been here for a long time. And when he discovers something new, it seems so clean.
And what movie could start with Michael Crawford singing… not from “Phantom of the Opera” but his younger work from 1969 in “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and “It Only Takes a Moment” from “Hello Dolly”?” And the delightful singing of “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong. The end titles “single” was done by Peter Gabriel. The music score was by Thomas Newman.
Our story starts some 800 years in the future when Earth has been abandoned by mankind and left for robots to clean up all the trash which had made Earth uninhabitable. WALL-E is a Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class garbage compacting droid. We feel like we’re seeing a day-in-the-life of R2-D2. We even hear a few R2 beeps, unsurprisingly, as Ben Burtt, who conceived the voice of R2, does WALL-E.
For over half an hour, we hear almost no dialogue; it’s almost all pantomime and visual impressions. Other than a cockroach buddy, WALL-E is the only one we see who is still operational. The dystopia theme of mankind’s possible future on Earth is not yet obvious, except in contrast to the very human nature of WALL-E, who collects interesting human artifacts of the past, including Christmas lights, an iPod, Zippo lighters, Rubik’s Cube, Twinkies, and of course old videos like “Hello Dolly.” The ecology morality tale kicks off in earnest when WALL-E discovers a living green plant, the first in the 700 years since mankind left on space liners.
For our droid Adam WALL-E, there appears an EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator).
A space probe lands on Earth and deposits a sleek, white reconnaissance probe-droid, looking for sustainable life on the planet. The influence of Apple on Pixar become immediately apparent. As WALL-E “reboots” with a Mac startup chime, EVE looks like a sleek iMac. This is not surprising considering the designer of the iMac and iPod, Apple Sr. VP Jonathan Ive consulted with Pixar on the film. When EVE separates out of her elongated egg shape to differentiate into head, arms and hands, she glistens like a second-generation white iPhone. And below her monitor-like head, we see a spinning gear, just like on an Apple machine.
The film chronicles their romance through dance as well as caregiving incubation. The emblem where EVE’s heart should be is a bio sign of plant life, a subtle shade of green.
There is such a visual wonder, the majesty of space flight, the quality of loyal friends, and the touching heart-felt self-sacrifice of mutual love. Surely, fun for the whole family, for children of all ages, including you. And the only movie that I’ve noticed that gives credit in the final titles to “processors by Intel.”
- You’ll like it if: You enjoy animation, heroes, robots, science-fiction, and comedy
- You won’t like it if: You don’t care for cockroaches and prefer live actors
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood culturevulture