This weekend I was able to see Disney/Pixar's "Wall-E" for the first time. I had heard good things and expected good things after noticing it was highly rated by viewers and critics alike. I must confess that I am a big fan of Pixar's works, although some are better than others.
The movie takes place in the distant future, where the Earth has been ravaged by humans and the waste of consumerism. The main character is a small robot named "Wall-E", who serves as a sentient trash compacter. You see, the trash has become so abundant that the surface of Earth is covered in it, and robots like Wall-E are tasked with compacting the garbage and stacking it neatly into towering columns.
The setting of the film is certainly very uncomfortable and bleak. Everywhere, you see piles of rusting and rotting garbage, and even Wall-E looks the part with his worn metal surfaces. What surprised me about the film is the lack of dialogue for the first thirty or so minutes as we see Wall-E go about his daily activities. The film uses a lot of physical expression to get its ideas across, with Wall-E utilizing movement and limited expression to show his emotions.
Although Wall-E works hard, he retires in the evening to a small shelter that he has filled with things he has salvaged from the mounds of garbage. Later in the film, we see that humans have escaped to a spaceship where they ride around in recliners, stare at computer screens all day, and are all morbidly obese.
In the beginning, Wall-E is alone except for his only apparent friend, a cockroach. Later, another sentient robot, EVE, arrives, apparently searching for plant life. Although initially cold and focused on her directive, Wall-E's persistence and goofball antics warm her electronic heart and the two become friends.
Despite the bleak setting of the film, Wall-E's antics provide for plenty of amusement. Later in the film, there is a lot more humor introduced as he meets more robots and turns their world upside down. The fat humans provide for a little amusement as well.
I think the most interesting part about this film is that it has a strong message to its viewers. This is not Toy Story, this is a film that warns of possible future consequences to wasteful and ego-centric lifestyles. At many times throughout the film, I felt unsettled by the ruined Earth and the fat humans with tunnel vision. Many people don't care about the environment and continue to waste, waste, waste, without any thoughts about where the garbage goes and the limited resources on the Earth. Although it is a harsh message, it is a message that we need and because of that I was very impressed by Pixar's bravery for putting it into a film for all audiences.
Overall, I thought it was a great film with a strong message. I was also happy that I was entertained and Pixar was able to make the audience laugh in spite of the serious message. Hopefully it will have some impact and encourage more humans to make changes to their lifestyles.