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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WALL-E

I saw WALL-E yesterday. I don't usually go in for Pixar films, mainly out of loyalty to traditional animation, but I've got to say WALL-E is a really good movie. Pixar has always made fairly decent stuff, although all the ones I've seen before (of which the most recent was Finding Nemo) I've always viewed as primarily kids' movies. Sure, adults taking their kids can enjoy them, but I doubt many adults would buy them on DVD for themselves. When was the last time you felt the urge to go rent Toy Story? WALL-E is different - it really is a movie anyone can enjoy, perhaps adults even more than kids. (The kids sitting next to me, during one of the film's climactic scenes, were too busy fart-assing around with lollies to pay any attention.)

The first thing that stuck me was the bang-up job they did depicting an Earth that has totally had its shit ruined. The hilariously large piles of garbage and nasty green smog look really cool, and the way everything looks all rusty and banged up is really impressively detailed. I'm big into robots so I thought WALL-E himself was pretty cool, I like how his body serves as a trash compactor/storage compartment as well as being able to hold his head and wheels when he retracts into a cube. EVE is nicely designed, contrasting WALL-E's traditional mechanic design with a cool sleek look, presumably made from some kind of smart polymer. The robot "voices" are really good, which is to be expected considering they were created by Ben Burtt, the guy behind R2-D2's expressive beeps. EVE's electronic but feminine voice reminds me a little of GLaDOS from Portal, perhaps not the best association character-wise, but anything that reminds me of my favourite physics-based first-person puzzle-comedy game is OK by me.

Another cool thing is how they tried to mimic the look of actual cameras. Apparently they wrote software to mimic the cameras used in sci-fi movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey. (There are a few other cool 2001 references too.) The shots during the part where WALL-E hitches a ride on the spaceship that picks up EVE were especially cool. Once they get into space the film shifts gears a bit, and there's plenty of cool shiny tech and robots, and an all-too-believable glimpse at the future of humanity.

So Pixar has seemingly matured, and replaced their usual torrent of pop-culture references with some fairly obvious but effective messages about the dangers of corporate monopoly, environmental neglect and human complacency. Even if you don't feel like being preached to, there's enough laughs, plot and cool robots to satisfy anyone. I give it 9 out of 10 discarded hubcaps.

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