I distinctly remember during the last quarter of Shrek (you know the part when the whole movie stopped being a movie and turned into one giant annoying music video) putting a moratorium on watching CGI animated movies. I continued to stick to my guns until I started hearing nothing put good things about this flick. What piqued my interest the most was that the voice of WALL-E (the titular robot star) was none other than Ben Burtt, the man who created all the amazing sound effects for all the Star Wars movies. That along with the fact that I heard that the first half of the movie contains no dialogue and that WALL-E himself only utters a handful of intelligible words throughout the course of the film, made me curious to say the least. I mean, I HAD to see how they were going to pull THAT one off.
Well, I’m happy to report that WALL-E is the best Disney movie since Bambi.
That’s not hyperbole either. It’s that good. Like nearly all of Disney and/or Pixar movies, it’s not entirely perfect, but when it IS perfect, it’s downright astonishing.
WALL-E is this little robot who lives 700 years into the future on an Earth completely devoid of life. (Save for one cockroach.) His daily routine consists of compacting trash into neat little cubes and stacking them up to the heavens. His life is severely changed once a female robot, EVE shows up looking for signs of life. WALL-E falls head over gears for her and when she returns to her mother ship (it looks like a futuristic cruise ship), he doggedly follows her and gets into all kinds of wacky adventures.
This could’ve been a disaster. We’re talking about a movie about cute robots falling in love here, people. What director Andrew Stanton does with the material is pretty spectacular. The opening reel of the film is probably the best you’ll see all year.
The second half of the movie doesn’t work quite as well. There is probably one too many scenes of the cruise boat captain trying to wrangle control of his ship from the sinister auto-pilot and at least one extraneous robot chase scene, but the second half actually has a message to it. You see, all the humans in the future are fat, lazy slobs that are totally reliant on conglomerate consumer based technology and WALL-E’s tiny spark of humanity helps them realize there’s a whole ‘nother world out there (literally). Sure that message will go over the intended audience’s heads (READ: Little tykes), but it’s nice to know it’s there. Besides, any movie featuring Fred Willard as the President is okay by me.
Honestly though, the first half of WALL-E is so perfect that it’s easy to forgive it for it’s flaws and appreciate it for what it does right. The scenes of WALL-E killing time in his crib watching videos are great and his courtship of EVE is also extremely well handled. The romance between the two robots may be the core of the movie but it’s the scenes of WALL-E scavenging around the desolated Earth that are the most memorable. (The opening scenes where WALL-E cannibalizes the dead, defunct models for scrap parts are pretty haunting.) Even though WALL-E may be a trash compactor, the fact that he is essentially a pack rat is the most telling thing about him. While he may pile trash sky high day in and day out, the fact that he still finds time to collect everything from brassieres to Rubix Cubes to Zippos speaks volumes even if he can’t speak at all. I mean if he can find something on Earth that’s worth saving, maybe we all can.
WALL-E’s got what it takes to hop onto the Number 6 spot on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Movies of the Year for 2008. Since we’re officially halfway through the year, here’s my Mid-Term Report:
THE VIDEO VACUUM TOP TEN MOVIES OF THE YEAR FOR THE FIRST HALF OF 2008:
Still the best Old People Can Still Kick Ass Movie of the Year. I especially loved the way Rambo wiped out more Burmese people in 90 minutes than that cyclone did. It’s gonna be tough to dethrone Sly from the top spot.
- THE INCREDIBLE HULK
For being the best comic book movie of the year. It’s actually on par with Iron Man, but since Iron Man is IN this movie too, I’m giving this one the edge.
- IRON MAN
For having the best scenes of robots kicking the crap out of each other since Robocop 2.
Best Killer Vagina Flick of the Year. Possibly of All Time.
- SHINE A LIGHT
Because that scene of a decrepit Mick Jagger dry humping a pregnant Christina Aguilera STILL gives me nightmares and it’s the first time in recorded history that Keith Richards said eight intelligible words in a two hour time frame.
It’s the best Mad Max/Resident Evil/28 Days Later/Underworld/Robin Hood/Knightriders Rip-Off we’re likely to get any time soon, so enjoy it.
- THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
Where else can you see Jackie Chan and Jet Li kick the snot out of each other? Where else can you see Jackie Chan say “Crouching Tiger, Spanking Monkey”? Where else can you see Jet Li piss in Jackie Chan’s face? I rest my case.
- GET SMART
Would you believe a GOOD movie based on a 60’s TV show?
- THE RUINS
For doing more damage to the Mexican tourist industry since dysentery and for being the Best Talking Man-Eating Plant Movie since the 86’ version of Little Shop of Horrors.
That’s it. I’m not going to go over the Top Ten again till the end of the year, so everyone cut and paste this and save it. Six months from now, I’ll you give THE definitive word on the best movies of the year. The list is likely to change a bit till then, but hey, that’s the fun of going to the movies. I would say you’ll probably see The Dark Knight on here somewhere (it comes out July 18), but then again I thought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Crap Fest would’ve been Top Ten material too and that turned out to be a steaming pile of feces….