Jacob Martin (formally known as The Movie King)’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don't think I've ever seen an animated film released in America released in the past 20 years that has been this dark and depressing to watch than Pixar's WALL-E. Heck, when it first came out in 2008, I didn't know what to think about it and shamelessly listed as one of the worst animated films ever made (apparently I gave this masterpiece a 1/10, for crying out loud). So yeah, as the years past, and more audiences have raved about it, and seeing that I like to give films I didn't like another chance, it seemed right for a rewatch. And man was it worth it. As mentioned above, I've never seen someone like Pixar have the guts to tell a social commentary story as this. And while I still don't think it's in my Top 3 (nothing can beat The Incredibles, Up, and Toy Story 3), WALL-E still shines as that one Pixar film that dares to do something different, tell an off-putting story of a future that could possibly happen, yet still be an entertaining film to watch. I dare argue that this is one of cinema's greatest achievements not only in modern animation, but in sci-fi as well!
We automatically know WALL-E is going to be a different type of animation film in the opening minutes. In the future, Earth goes into complete chaos. An evil corporation called Buy N Large has taken over the world, taking control of how people run their lives and go way too far that it obliterates the environment, causing the entire human race to travel and live their lives in space. Robots were created to clean up the ness, but 700 years after humanity left their vile mess, only one robot is left on the earth, one named WALL-E, lonely with a pet cockroach, and keeping some of the junk for himself to survive as he's cleaning, using the film Hello, Dolly to comfort himself in his abandonment. Then as WALL-E is making his usual rounds, another machine arrives, one by the name of EVE, who has the capability to blow stuff up when she get's agitated. But anyway, WALL-E falls for her charms and doesn't feel lonely anymore. It's turns out that EVE'S purpose is to find anything growing in this dormant Earth, and when they both find the one remaining plant, BOOM, WALL-E finds himself travelling through space and coming aboard the Axiom, the ship where humanity is slaving away with laziness and an overabundance of technology, even going as far as giving this stuff to babies for crying out loud! The two bots have to deliver the plant to the ship's captain in order for them to finally return to Earth, but have to face different obstacles in order to succeed, which includes the corrupt police robots and the Axiom's auto-pilot computer, who is basically HAL-900's sick cousin (there's a really funny 2001 spoof at the end).
If you are reading this description and are somewhat disturbed that a story like WALL-E found its light as a kids' film, then you're not kidding. Pixar's made some storytelling risks in the past, especially some of the adult material in films like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, but they've never done something as dark as this before, in a G-rated movie too! The future depicted in this movie I believe could be the closest that could happen in real life, as each next generations are feeling more and more addicted to more and more technology and would rather become lazy bums than get a job and enjoy the qualities of nature. The fact that a single corporation turns into a corrupt government alone, one that brainwashes people to play with technology and become lazy instead of being informed of the problems of the world, is just simply messed up in the standards of animation, yet Pixar tells it as a stroke of genius. There's been debates on what WALL-E's supposed to be about. Is it an anti-technology message, is it one of those dumb environmentalist message? The environment stuff is preached a lot in this movie, but only because the film needed to with the state of the earth depicted. BI don't think it's anti-technology. Heck, the ship's captain uses technology in one scene to lean more about the planet Earth. I think the film's telling us that as a society, we need to play with out iPhones and tables a little less, appreciate the beauty of God's green earth, and do our part in helping solve society's true problems that doesn't involve anything to do with computers or phones. And maybe a little more initiative in staying healthy, as well.
As usual for a Pixar film, the animation's a beauty, especially in the first half-hour of the film, with the scenes of the bleak, drab earth and its poor state. The details on both WALL-E and EVE are just hard to beat in CG animation! Even when the film goes off into space, Pixar's quality of giving "the final frontier" detail is just spectacular. I swear we are as wowed at the detail just as WALL-E is when he's experiencing it for the first time. I also like the way Pixar is able to tell this story with hardly any dialogue. Sure there's a little more in the final act with the captain and the HAL-900-ish computer, but for the most part, we find out all we need to know from the visuals we are given and th simple communications of "WALL-E", "EVE", etc. And speaking of, the relationship between these machines is just way too adorable to hate. I don't know why I was such a grump back in 2008 over this, but I swear, Pixar can do this stuff better than Hallmark or any of those cheap romantic comedies. Being dialogue-free most of the time also gives the film some Chaplin-ish slapstick comedy in there, and it's great, especially that cleaning robot that shows up in the second half of the film. And lastly, Thomas Newman's score is wonderful, beautifully fitting into the intrigue, horror, and awe of it all.
While not Pixar's magnum opus (having a real actor play the Buy N Large CEO is somewhat creepy and didn't make sense to me), it's safe to say that I've finally seen the light on why everyone's raved about this. It's stirring social commentary is something never done in animation, the story is rich in shock and hilarity, the animation's obviously another winner from Pixar, the robot relationship is adorable, and I just can't get enough of Thomas Newman's score! Thank you Pixar for raising the standards of how CGI animation should be, and though your quality has somewhat declined in recent memory (Brave anyone??), I can't wait for your future projects, yes, even Toy Story 4.
And for my ranking of Pixar's films, look no further than my Pixar Ranked list: letterboxd.com/martinjacob49/list/pixar-films-ranked/
And for the ranking of director Andrew Stanton, here's a link to my Directors' League list: letterboxd.com/martinjacob49/list/directors-league-andrew-stanton/