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One of the last things I would've ever imagined is that a film that has so little dialogue could be so engrossing. It's not just that there isn't any dialogue in the first half hour of WALL-E, it's that there really isn't much of it throughout the whole movie, but that doesn't for a second take away from the massive amount of entertainment that there is to be had with Pixar's latest entry.
Of course, although the task of making an extremely entertaining movie with very little dialogue sounds like a tough feat, this shouldn't be too hard if the movie you're making features characters who ooze readable facial reactions and who are very expressive. Not so in WALL-E, where our two protagonists are robots, thus making this an even harder feat for the filmmakers, who do a stellar job of exploiting every possible tool available to get these characters to display what the audience needs to get totally immersed in this film. The result is not only that they succeed hugely at fulfilling that task, but they've also managed to craft one of the most charming on-screen romances ever... certainly one of the best ones in an animated film... with robots!!! Who would've thought?
In fact, with their last two films, the folks at Pixar have taken unlikely caricatures that wouldn't normally be considered particularly cute or even likable (rats last year, robots this year) and effectively crafted appealing characters for both films. I think it was probably easier with Ratatouille because, although rats are generally regarded with disgust, they gave the rats in that film pink spots on their cheeks and whatnot, thus rendering them cuter than what the actual rodent tends to look like. But how do you do this with robots? How do you get a drab metal machine to display any palpable gesture? Aside from the frequent expressions made by EVE's "eyes" (if you can call them that), which are often helpful, the makers of WALL-E have to use a diversity of sounds and other things to get us to understand the interactions between the two love-struck robots, and they achieve this seamlessly. It sounds hard to believe, but you absolutely will more than believe it once you see it. WALL-E and EVE's interactions and the growth of their romantic feelings are nothing short of enthralling.
I was going to wait till a weekday to see WALL-E because, once I heard that the theme/message of the film was of a slightly adult nature, I was worried if I went to see it on a day in which the theater was full of kids that there would be a lot of restlessness and yelling and crying that would keep me from enjoying the film thoroughly. But I couldn't wait. I had to go see it. So I went today (on a Sunday) at the earliest showing, hoping perhaps people still wouldn't be up and going to the movies. Well, there were still plenty of kids in the audience, but here's the thing. Although WALL-E does have an adult theme/message in its approach as a cautionary tale, it still has everything that kids could possibly need from an animated film. There are plenty of funny moments and gags, and chase sequences, etc. So, just like the adults, the kids were quiet and well-behaved because of how engrossed they were in the movie. This is one of the many great things about WALL-E: it has that balance of being a charmingly fun animated film while still touching on pertinent issues, and it gets a lot of points for this. Also, the film is preceded by an animated short titled "Presto" which is VERY funny. It's silly and generic, but still a welcome lighthearted prelude. It's not a visually impressive piece of short animation, but that doesn't matter at all, considering the galore of great visuals we're exposed to as soon as WALL-E gets started.
WALL-E has garnered equally stellar reviews as those earned by Ratatouille last year. When I watched Ratatouille in theaters last year, I thought it was very good, but certainly not deserving of accolades like "perfect" or "masterpiece", let alone "best animated film ever". It made me wonder whether critics were just being too nice or biased towards Pixar fare, which made me concerned as to whether WALL-E would truly be the amazing film they were hailing it to be. Thank God that it actually is. While "perfect" and "masterpiece" may still not quite be appropriate descriptors, WALL-E comes a heck of a lot closer to them than Ratatouille ever could. I do still think that Finding Nemo is Pixar's best film and the best animated film of this decade so far, but there is no question that WALL-E is a VERY close second. (I've also yet to see The Incredibles)
I can't imagine for a second that there is a single animated film that could give WALL-E a run for its money in the Best Animated Feature Film category at the next Academy Awards ceremony. WALL-E is just a ravishing motion picture that may even give staunch skeptics some hope, despite the fact that the world we live in seems to give us less and less hope every day. It's amazing just how timely WALL-E is, and for that, it is more than just worth seeing; it's an experience you definitely don't want to miss out on.
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