Review – WALL·E (2008)

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walle-5221dca049f73From all of the films Pixar has come out in the last two decades or so, there remains a select few that people hold in the back of their minds as to what the best of the best are. I have my own list, just as you have yours. Here’s the weird thing about that…I remember holding Wall-E pretty high, but I only saw the film once, in theater when I was 20.  So, it’s been nearly a decade since I saw it, and my tastes have matured a little bit since then. So, was it really as good as I recall? Let’s get into it.

WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. But during 700 years, WALL-E has developed a personality, and he’s more than a little lonely. Then he spots EVE, a sleek and shapely probe sent back to Earth on a scanning mission. Smitten WALL-E embarks on his greatest adventure yet when he follows EVE across the galaxy. (IMDb)

PEOPLE
★★★★★★

This category is all about the people in the film. This covers their acting ability, if the characters themselves are any good, if they work well together as a team, if they are deeper or flatter as characters, and if the casting director even did their job right. These are all very important issues to consider while reviewing film.
  1.  Acting: ★★
    • First up for Wall-E is the acting subcategory. Now, this is an interesting one because all of the acting in this was almost completely body language. Not only that, but robot body language. Whoever the animators are, you guys are geniuses because I’m not sure how I would make a couple of robots that can’t speak express so much emotion, that’s…acting…in a way. So, two stars here.
  2.  Characters: ★★
    • Next up is characters, something Pixar has never really had an issue with. They know characters, period. Wall-E was particularly good because I imagine it took a lot of creativity to develop characters like this. It’s hard to think of any character that wasn’t seen as memorable, other than a few various humans on the ship, but they’re sort of supposed to be zombie-like forgettable characters, too. That’s part of the idea. More on that later. Two stars.
  3. Good Casting: ★★
    • This is probably one of the hardest subcategories to convince me on because it’s animation. I think it’d be a lot easier to replace a voice actor than an on-screen one. That being said, I want to be clear. I have no idea who used their voice for this film, nor do I care. Whoever they are pulled off a fantastic job helping to define these memorable characters, and that’s all I have to say about that.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • Next up? Importance. Does every character have a role to play to help further the plot? Actually…yeah. Wall-E is a romantic that just wants to be with Eve. Eve is an environmental robot whose mission is basically to save the existence of humanity. The captain of the ship is vital to understand the importance of literally everything. The co-captain is responsible for something else, which I won’t get into. Everyone is there for a reason, and they are all diverse. Two stars.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★★
    • You know when you have two robots having incredible chemistry, everyone else is bound to follow suit, and sure enough, they do. Two stars.

Subtotal: 10/10

WRITING
★★★★★★

This category obviously covers the writing aspect of the critique. First, you want to know a little bit about the script. Specifically, how is the dialogue? Are they saying anything memorable or inspirational…or was it just a bland conversation to keep the story going? How was the story itself? Was it well-balanced or over-convoluted? Was it original? Was it even interesting? Once again, all very important questions
  1.  Dialogue: ★★
    • It’s the strangest thing. There isn’t much dialogue in Wall-E, but I think that helps it even more. There’s a good mix between the robots just saying each other’s names and through unspoken word that I think the “dialogue” is actually perfect. Two stars.
  2.  Good Balance: ★★
    • This film is incredibly balanced and simple, primarily for kid sakes, but regardless, it is a story about chasing after your love. Two stars.
  3.  Good Story: ★★
    • There’s quite a few really strong messages in this film. The first one that kids will notice is about love, chasing after it through whatever stands in your way and tries to stop you. It’s also green friendly, teaching us all how important it is to keep the world healthy. You can make easier, lazier modifications that technically allow you to keep going, but in doing so, you forget who you are, which brings me to the third part story of the film – the advancement of modern technology, and where that goes from a good thing to a bad thing. More on that later. Two stars for the story.
  4.  Originality: ★★
    • I don’t know, can you think of anything else that is remotely similar to this movie? I can’t. Two stars.
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • This is interesting on so many levels. It’s interesting because it’s Pixar, it’s interesting because it’s sci-fi, it’s interesting because it’s different, and it’s interesting because it has so much to tell you…even though there isn’t a lot of speaking going around. Two stars.

Subtotal: 20/20

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★★

Never forget that there are hard-working individuals working on this film day in and day out. It’s a great story, yes, but people helped make that possible. People like the directors, who have to take written word on a script, and somehow translate that for the big screen in a way an audience would understand. Editors, who are given a ton of material and expected to further make that idea and image the director has already – into a reality, like the director of photography, whose job is to make this movie look amazing…whether that means natural settings and landscapes, CGI, 3D, technical effects, or otherwise. The production crew, who are in charge of making advertisements that aren’t false, and don’t give too much away. Finally, the sound crew, who are in charge of everything the audio has – sound effects, sound editing, music, you name it. These are all puzzle pieces.
  1. Visuals: ★★
    • From what I can recall, Pixar always felt mostly like the same company. What I mean was, every movie that came out felt like the same universe almost. However, I believe it was Wall-E that changed that for me. Wall-E had insane visuals. It made use of live-action video of humans. It wanted to look real, other than the humans in space, of course, which they sort of tried to explain away as bone loss. There’s no doubt about it, the visuals are indeed top notch here. Two stars.
  2.  Directing: ★☆
    • I gave this one star for one specific reason…I’m not entirely sure how you direct an animated movie. You’re not on set looking for specific ways to make a scene look great. You can make the scenes look however you want without any real difficulty because of animation…so I’m at a loss. It’s not really as much as a challenge as normal movies. If anything, this might more realistically be two stars, but I can’t figure out what animation directors really do. One star.
  3.  Editing: ★★
    • What I can say, though, is that the editing was really smooth and unique. There’s a particular sequence in space that really looks nice and effectively stitches together scenes that are both close up and far away in a really effective way. Two stars.
  4.  Advertisement: ★★
    • As far as I could tell, it was as advertised, so I’ll give it two stars.
  5.  Music: ★★
    • Pixar has always done a pretty decent job with the music in their films. Now, this one was more scored than it was sung, but the score isn’t too bad. It’s not really the use of the score that gave it two stars, it was the use of the old-style music that’s used as a plot device. This was used as a reminder that the world used to be fun. Without technology, just good old fashioned interaction, dancing, love. Two stars.

Subtotal: 29/30

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★

Have you ever been left wondering what it was about a film that felt…off, but you couldn’t place what it was? Well, a lot of people actually aren’t educated on the traditional narrative arc structure – which is seen in almost every movie or book story. With a missing piece, you might not understand what feels missing.
  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • In the introduction, we are introduced to the two main robots, Wall-E and Eve, as they wander around a desolate planet Earth. We learn about their own personal missions and get to watch them bond. We also get a really quick idea of where the people are now. Two stars.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • This comes when Wall-E shows Eve a plant that he found inside of an old refrigerator. She takes the plant, shuts down, and sends a beacon to space, letting them know they found something. Crossing the threshold happens when Wall-E illegally joins her on the spaceship.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • This is an interesting one because it’s not really typical for a kids movie. The obstacles are the things that stand in the way of Wall-E as he attempts to reunite with his love. That changes a bit after we find out there’s something going on, trying to stop the captain from finding the plant. Then the obstacles turn into typical good guy vs. bad guy. Two stars.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★★
    • With the climax, you had a pretty solid buildup of action and emotion going on, and a whole heck of a lot of people watching the whole time. It was pretty good. Two stars.
  5.  Falling Action: ★★
    • There’s also a really good moment where we settle down and take a breather to understand what’s going to happen next, what the new norm is, etc. Two stars.

Subtotal: 39/40

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★★★★★

Here’s something most critics overlook because they’re always so keyed in on critiquing the technical elements of a film. Well, that may be statistically accurate, but the numbers that are released aren’t always reflective of what we enjoyed about it…which is when we say the movie was under-appreciated or whatever. This category focuses on pure entertainment.
  1.  Rewatchability: ★★
    • Yeah, definitely. Let’s not forget that for me, this was a rewatch. It may have almost taken me a decade, but I would’ve watched it sooner. Two stars.
  2.  Fun: ★★
    • Definitley. Two stars.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ★
    • Yeah, I’d buy it. I haven’t in the last nine years, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t eventually get it. Who knows when or if that’ll actually happen, though… One star.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it: ☆☆
    • Maybe back in the day, but I have no need to talk about this anymore. No stars.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ★★
    • From the get go, this movie will suck the audience in and won’t let them go until the film is over. Two stars.

Subtotal: 46/50

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SPECIALTY QUESTIONS

These are special questions written by you before seeing the movie, based on expectations, questions, stereotypes, you name it. If it’s a Tom Cruise movie, have Cruise-isms, if it’s a horror film, ask how scary it is, if it’s a sequel, ask if it fits in with the universe or if it was even needed to begin with, you catch the drift.

Family/Kids
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #1

First specialty question is regarding family and kids. This is clearly a kids movie, but how does it measure up for Mom and Pop? In my opinion, it has elements for everyone in the family to enjoy. There’s not  so many adult humor or anything in it, but there are hidden messages in there for families to appreciate and even take into consideration when teaching their kids about the dangers of technology. Even for today’s standards.

Measures Up
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #2

The next thing you’ll ask yourself is…how does it measure up? Is it still as good as it used to be? For this, I’d have to not only say yes but insist that it’s probably better nowadays because, in the last 9 years, we haven’t done anything but prove that this film could be a prediction for the future. Our technology is still growing, we are consistently ignoring the environment. We even have a President that claims global warming is a hoax.  So yeah, I think this film is just as good, if not better. Ten stars.

Pixar’s Hall of Fame
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #3

You know what I’m talking about when I say Pixar’s Hall of Fame. There was a moment where Pixar shifted, and then we saw a bunch of sequels, spinoffs, and just…not so many amazing films anymore. At most, we had some mediocre ones more than we’ve had winning Pixar films. Yes, that changes now and then, but they were winning nonstop for a  little while with Toy Story, Monsters, Inc, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and yes, Wall-E. Their best, most recent movie, was Inside Out. Ten stars.

Green/Environmental

★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #4

One thing I remembered saying when this came out was, “It’s a good movie, but it’s clearly a huge tree-hugging film”. I wasn’t as environmentally conscience as I was today, so I wasn’t a big fan of that aspect. That being said, I was so focused on that greenery aspect that I totally missed out on the technology side. This was social commentary on the concept of a never-dying love and the obstacles that come through technology and ignorance – and the consequences of that ignorance. Look close, you’ll see a whole lot of evolved technology continuing to grow, and you’ll see no physical human interaction. You won’t see any love. The planet has died through that ignorance. Wall-E is there to remind people what’s out there. What they are missing. He is there to remind us to be human again, not part computer. Ten stars.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #5

This is a wonderful film that was nearly perfect. Nearly. Of course it’s halfway decent. Ten stars.

RATING: 96/100

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