Ever since I saw a trailer for Wall-E early on, and the little robot reminded me of the strange parking meter/litter collecting machine on Wallace and Gromit's Grand Day Out, I've been looking forward to seeing the film. It took a while to come around on our LOVEFiLM queue, but it was really worth the wait.
I don't think I've seen such a perfect animated film in a long time (with the possible exception of Curse of the Were-Rabbit). The film is notorious for lacking dialogue for the first 40 minutes or so of the film, and yet it manages to convey the personality, hopes and fears of both of the main characters (Wall-E and Eve), and even makes a cockroach seem like a loveable pet. Wall-E's movements, little beeps and squeaks and the care with which he tends his collection of 'treasure' and his cockroach friend tells you all you need to know about him. Eve is -- by turns -- tender and fierce and spiky.
It's also quite a sharp satire on consumerism, showing the hapless passengers on the Axiom as fat, infantilized beings, suckling on "cup cakes in a cup" and staring zombie-like at the adverts and entertainment on their personal screens. Meanwhile, back on Scrapheap Earth, Wall-E gamely tootles about building skyscrapers out of their ancestors' compacted junk. I think it's a great shame and a missed opportunity that Pixar (or more likely, Disney) didn't choose to forego a bit of income and make a point by not having any merchandise to accompany the film.
There are some great little jokes and references in the film, but they are timeless enough that Wall-E is likely to be a classic film in the years to come. I laughed out loud at Wall-E's 'fully charged' chime sound, and his dithering about whether to put the plastic spork he had found with his plastic spoon or plastic fork collection, settling for placing it mid-way between the two. I also loved his groggy, uncoordinated early morning routine of trying to get the caterpillar tracks on his wheels before going out.
The soundtrack (including some wonderful ambient sounds produced by Ben Burtt - the DVD extra on the work he did is fascinating) is superb and subtle, with some very touching moments. I have to admit to getting a little moist-eyed when Louis Armstrong sang "La Vie en Rose". Even the short feature -- Burn-E -- on the DVD packs more entertainment into under 8 minutes than most full-length films. I love Burn-E's chirpy humming of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as he prepares to replace the damaged beacon, and his hang-dog posture when trying to get yet another beacon from the supply robot. The way the events of the main film are woven into his story, so that you see the unseen havoc unwittingly caused to Burn-E's ordered little world by Wall-E and Eve, is really brilliant. All that, and they managed to get a subtle little reference to "2001: A Space Odyssey" in as well.