WALL·E ★★★★★

WALL•E is one of the most unique and innovative studio films of all time. It’s slow, virtually plotless, and almost dialogue-free for the first 40 minutes, and from there becomes part 2001 homage and part reflection on human nature and the limitations of artificial intelligence.
It’s also impressively cinematic for an animated film, featuring tracking shots, zooms, pans, and lens flares. In fact, it’s one of the first animated films to use these techniques. It also boasts incredible sound designed by the masterful Ben Burtt, of Star Wars fame, and a beautiful score by Thomas Newman.
Thematically, WALL•E condemns the laziness of humans and the limitations of capitalism. While this may seem hypocritical from a corporation as monolithic as Disney, that doesn’t change its resonance. Uniquely pertinent to our present situation is the sequence in which the CEO of Buy and Large, the corporation that effectively controls the world, chooses to ignore and flee from the environmental and health problems facing Earth, rather than working to fix them.
The lack of a traditional antagonist is also a fascinating inclusion, or omission really. The autopilot and the other computerized systems aren’t evil, they’re simply incapable of defying their programming. They don’t have the capacity to disobey the poorly conceived protocols from centuries in the past.
The overarching theme of WALL•E, however, is one of hope. The film depicts a dire vision of the future, yes, but it also depicts the capacity of humans to rebuild and work together to improve their collective society.
Given that there is such a focus on larger systems, both societal and automated, WALL•E has few actual characters. There’s the titular robot, of course, and EVE, the robot that he loves, plus their human analogues John and Mary, comic relief character M-0, the ship’s captain, and his autopilot. The dynamics between the characters are excellently executed. WALL•E and EVE’s romance parallels that of John and Mary, whilst Auto and the Captain begin the film with identical motivations that then diverge as the plot progresses.
Combine the thematic richness, memorable characters, homages to Kubrick both subtle and overt, and an absolutely stunning visual style that sits somewhere in between Pixar’s usual stylization and a more hyperrealistic approach, you get one of the most beautiful and affecting films ever made.

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