What if mankind had to leave Earth and somebody forgot to turn off the last robot?
That’s why – in the year 2700 – little WALL-E, a Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth-Class, is still trash-compacting. Day-after-day, he dutifully glides through the toxic, post-apocalyptic wasteland, sifting through junk, forming it into neat cubes and neatly piling the detritus into scrap-skyscrapers. He’s lonely with only a cockroach for company, but he’s assembled a comfy home, filled with curious treasures, like Zippo lighters, Rubik’s Cubes and an old VHS tape of the 1969 musical “Hello, Dolly!”
One day, he finds a little green sprout. And, soon after, the Spaceship Axiom lands, depositing EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), a sleek, egg-shaped probe-droid searching for evidence that Earth is ready for re-colonization. EVE so entrances WALL-E that he hitches a ride back with her, traveling out into a distant galaxy, where he teaches the spaceship’s plump, pear-shaped, pampered passengers, who have been reclining indolently in high-tech deck chairs for 700 years, how to be human again.
Writer/director David Stanton’s (“Finding Nemo”) Pixar animators are extraordinary, elegantly conveying complex thoughts, an intricate storyline and a wide range of emotions with minimal dialogue. With his sad binocular eyes and tank-tread feet, WALL-E is immediately endearing; his expressive, metallic speech comes via Ben Buritt, the sound designer who ‘voiced’ Chewbacca, R2D2, and E.T.
WALL-E’s cautionary environmental message rings green and clear, triumphing over the rampant consumerism with great credit to Thomas Newman’s musical score which is evocative, exuberant and self-explanatory, including the “Thus Spake Zarathustra” theme from Stanley Kubrick’s classic “2001.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “WALL-E” is a wistful, whimsical 10. It’s a visionary robotic romance that’s destined to be one of the best pictures of the year