WALL·E ★★★★★

The brilliance of Andrew Stanton's "Wall-E" is found in the animated science fiction tale's simplicity. That simplicity, buoyed, ironically, by astounding technical complexities, is seen in the glances, expressions, and emotions of its main characters when nary a word is spoken. It is seen in the story beats and themes communicated in thoughtful, meaningful imagery. It is seen in a story that is both beautiful and frightening but delivered in a way that every audience member can and should be rocked by a fundamental understanding of its meaning.

Sweet, funny, and even subversive, "Wall-E" tells the story of a lonely robot, collecting and crushing garbage on the husk of what was once Earth. His existence is meaningful but isolated, and his days are spent wandering, serving some unknown, perhaps, long-lost directive. When "Wall-E" meets a mysterious robot from somewhere off world, his life is forever changed as he embarks on a path that may restore the planet to its former green glory.

The best kind of science fiction, "Wall-E" is built on a narrative that is part love story, part satire, and part cautionary tale played against a technologically enhanced, humanity bereft landscape. It is a human story whose most human characters are not human beings, and it is a universal tale that unfolds against specific genre conventions. In a time where humans have destroyed themselves and their world with rampant consumerism and a movement away from honest, organic interactions, they are saved by the most human endeavors of their creations. While the narrative skewers the actions that could be humanity's undoing, it triumphantly announces that love, however it is made, will be the world's saving grace.

Stanton and PIXAR tell the story with sad and haunting imagery. Photo-realistic animated landscapes are dusty and hollow, broken and lost. Across these landscapes travels the remarkable Wall-E, a cute, thoughtful, endearing, and tenacious robot who is imbued with a marvelously communicative spirit. When he collides with similarly wondrous EVE, a certain warmth grows from the fully-rendered remains of the animated Earth. As the film progresses, the dusty, rusty hues of Earth are replaced by the sanitized interiors of a space vessel; but these interiors are just as stunningly executed.

Again, the most remarkable element of Stanton's film is its storytelling. In dialogue-free stretches, humor, warmth, melancholy, and curiosity are easily expressed. Two robotic characters with metallic exteriors offer as much personality and character as actors in the flesh. The supporting characters, robotic or otherwise, are also memorable and poignant in their own ways.

With its astounding animation and storytelling supported by a powerful narrative with fully alive emotions, "Wall-E" is unquestionably excellent. That excellence, communicated through strokes of the utmost technical, artistic and narrative skill, is elevated by the film's most compelling trait: its beautiful and brilliant simplicity.

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