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  WALL-E I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Year: 2008
Director: Andrew Stanton
Stars: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: It is far into the future and Planet Earth has long been abandonded by humanity after the pollution they produced made the world uninhabitable. Somewhere in a quiet city in North America, a lone robot, the last of his kind, goes about the work he has been programmed to do; his name is WALL-E (voice created by Ben Burtt), and he slowly, steadily, creates cubes of the garbage strewn around and builds towers out of them for neat storage. His only friend is a cockroach, and life continues much as it has done for centuries - until today. WALL-E has found something important...

Even before this film was released there were rumours that this was the finest Pixar animation yet, no minor claim, and when it went on to win an Oscar it was as if those rumours were vindicated. It was an ecological fable that Greenpeace would be proud to put its name to, a story of rebirth after a nightmare of environmental breakdown, yet this was no dry lecture as director Andrew Stanton, who co-wrote the script with Jim Reardon, ensured that we would be engaged by not just some cute robots, but the love story that occurs between them.

The film is a testament to the notion that there is decency in humanity, and that endures in our creations even if we are no longer around. Therefore WALL-E may eke out a lonely existence on this deserted planet, but the emotions of those who made him are still present, leading him to see value in the ephemera that they have left behind. Like with those other cartoon characters, The Wombles, just because something has been thrown away it doesn't mean to this little guy that it has no reason to be around, and he delights in finding Rubik's Cubes and lightbulbs amongst the debris.

Not forgetting the old videotape of Hello Dolly, not you might think, the finest achievement of Hollywood, but as it is by this time the only one left it takes on a whole new meaning, especially in its idealised vision of romance that appeals to WALL-E. All he needs now is someone to fall in love with, and after he discovers something that catches his eye, this time a tiny plant shoot, he hears a rumbling and looks to the skies. Little does he know that this vegetation is the motive for his new visitor's arrival. She is EVE (Elissa Knight), a robot far in technological advance of her new admirer, and she wants that plant.

The first half hour of this is probably the best, the closest Pixar had ever come to an art film even with the child-friendly slapstick, as the two machines' relationship blossoms from one sided to something more mutual. The simple act of holding hands, which he has picked up from the musical he watches endlessly, is all that WALL-E dreams of, so when EVE ends up closing down apparently permanently when she grabs the plant, he won't allow his hopes to dwindle. What unfolds after this is more of a space adventure than what has gone before, with our boxy hero ending up on a spaceship with the last of humanity, who may not have evolved particularly admirably (the closest this gets to satire), but still have that spark of potential to improve. Yet this is the machines' film really, the ones with the better qualities of mankind showing the way to a better tomorrow, snatching optimism from the jaws of all-too-easy cynicism and defeatism. Music by Thomas Newman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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