Geoff T’s review published on Letterboxd:
Geoff T's Pixar Marathon #9
It's always going to be a tough question, but what honestly is the film that defines Pixar at their very best?
Is it the one that warms your heart the most? The one that feels the most mature? Or could it simply just be the one that's the most visually-stunning? When it comes to all of those fronts, WALL-E is very much at the top of the spectrum for me. Andrew Stanton had already done a more-than-credible job on Finding Nemo, and he followed that up with what I feel is a strong contender for the studio's most accomplished effort.
Right from the start, we're presented with quite possibly one of the most bleak openings to any film, let alone that from the likes of Disney and Pixar. A large urban area that is devoid of any kind of life, with the only regiments being still standing skyscrapers, piles upon piles of garbage and the services of Buy n' Large, a massive corporation who have since evacuated the planet having failed to clean up the mess (which they likely helped to create).
Then there's WALL-E, the lone surviving of many trash compactor robots who spends his days roaming around cleaning up garbage and scavenging parts to stay running. Unexpectedly, WALL-E is met with the arrival of EVE, a droid sent from Earth to scan for any kind of plant or specimen that could restore the planet back to living conditions. It becomes love at first sight as EVE takes a liking to his clumsy behaviour and his collection of human artifacts.
The thing I admire most about this act is how it's able to advance the characters and narrative with minimal use of dialogue. This is especially true in regards to WALL-E (voiced by sound designer Ben Burtt), who is established as having a childlike fascination with human culture and a curiosity about his existence and purpose in life. Not to mention the great use of the musical Hello Dolly!, which represents WALL-E's desire to find true love and explore the outside world.
Eventually the action shifts to Axiom, a large-scale space cruise that houses a population of humans who have become so obese (due to lack of gravity) that they remain confined to hover chairs and dependent on an empty, automated lifestyle. In control is the Captain, who is surprised to find EVE come back with something that could restore the Earth, but the mutinous autopilot has other plans in store, which eventually puts WALL-E and EVE in a race to save the day.
From a visual standpoint, WALL-E is a marvel. Aside from the eerie landscapes of a trash-covered earth and the large-scale interiors of the Axiom, few things memorise me more than WALL-E being able to see the beauty of the galaxy for the first time, or him and EVE sharing a romantic moment together in space with a fire-extinguisher. The only thing I could complain about is that the brief live-action footage can be jarring, especially within the context of the animated world.
Of course this being Pixar, I wouldn't be able to forget the music. Not just the use of "Put on Your Sunday Shoes" from Hello Dolly! or the occasional Louis Armstrong song, but Thomas Newman's scoring work. Quirky and atmospheric, I dare say that it surpasses his work on Nemo. The end theme sung by Peter Gabriel is also worth mentioning, which is nothing short of magical and ends the film on the relaxed note that it deserves.
Ashamedly, this one Pixar effort that I missed out on in a cinema. Since my first viewing, it's always been a massive favourite of mine, for pretty much every reason that I've listed above. Whether or not it's my all-time favourite film from the team is hard to say. If I were to choose one that I'd consider "perfect" however, it would definitely be one of the first to pop into my mind.
I've said all I need to say. All in all, a thrilling, colourful, and even hilarious sci-fi adventure that enthrals and spellbinds from beginning to end. I can't recommend it enough.