Friday, June 27, 2008

Movie Review - Wall*E

Everyone over the age of fourteen needs to watch the first thirty minutes of this film. Everyone younger than twelve should see the remaining hour.

Let us get this out of the way before we continue: when all is said and done, this movie is a hair's breath from being as good as The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. Pixar, in crafting a brand for themselves, have inadvertently set their own standard. No Pixar movie will ever be compared to the likes of Shrek, for instance, which makes it difficult for Pixar to meet expectations. It's easy to make a movie better than Shrek, but far more difficult to match the quality of Nemo.

Some are claiming this is the best Pixar movie to date. We suspect they are focusing on the beginning of Wall*E.

Make no mistake, the first half hour of Wall*E is better than any thirty minutes Pixar has produced. It may be better than any thirty minutes anyone has ever produced.

Beautiful, elegant, and heartbreaking, the beginning of Wall*E left us breathless. It also, unfortunately, raised our expectations to levels beyond human reckoning. When the quality could not be sustained - and indeed, how could it - we felt a twinge of disappointment.

This isn't to say the remainder of the movie is in any sense bad: it is still Pixar, and it still delivers. But as its focus shifts to human characters, the movie loses its subtlety. The plot becomes heavy handed, and holes begin to appear.

Oh, there are still robots aplenty, gorgeous visuals, and dramatic moments to leave you gasping in awe. You will sympathize with the little robot as you follow him through his many trials and adventures. But you also might roll your eyes a bit at some of the dialogue. There aren't a great many lines in this movie: those present should have been better.

It is really just a question of priorities, we suppose. The majority of the filmmakers' attention was directed to the movie's opening, and given its effectiveness, it is hard to fault the choice.

If Pixar's best two movies, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, are five stars
, Wall*E is four and three-fourths. Were we only counting the beginning of the movie, there could be no such comparison: Wall*E would shatter the scale entirely.

No matter who you are, you really need to see the first thirty minutes of this movie. And, since you're there, stay for the rest: you'll enjoy that, too.

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