Monday, June 30, 2008

The Heart of A.I.

Disney and Pixar have done it again – they’ve totally outdone themselves: WALL-E is an outstanding achievement, and quite easily the best film I’ve seen so far this year.

Set 700 years in the future, in a world in which a corporation called Buy ’n Large owns just about everything there is to own, our featured protagonist, WALL-E, is Earth’s sole inhabitant.

The planet has been overtaken by waste produced by BNL Corp., and WALL-Es – Waste Allocation Load Lifters, Earth-class – are cleaning up the mess while humans orbit space aboard BNL’s Axiom, a state-of-the-art cruise-line-style spaceship designed to cater to their every need while Earth recovers. WALL-E is the only robot of his type doing to the hard work, though – all others seem to have stopped working.

Directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), WALL-E is a mostly non-spoken film. (WALL-E’s sole companion is a resilient cockroach.) We see him pick up waste. We see him sort through mountains of rubble in search of items he collects and displays at home as invaluable treasures. We see him watch Hello, Dolly! through his binocular eyes, and yearn, with humanlike, palpable emotion, for a hand to hold, for, you see, he is, inspite of all his bolts, a…small bundle of love, and his is a love story.

The arrival of EVE, a gleaming white probe dispatched from the Axiom (her name stands for Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) literally sends WALL-E out of this world in love.

The film, already gripping in its first act, gets even better in its second thanks to their tender, simmering connection – and to the on-the-mark commentary it makes on consumerism, corporate greed and (ir)responsibility, and, of course, the type of connection and love that transcend it all.

WALL-E is what you can all a new classic. You have to watch it.

My Rating ****

Photo: Disney/Pixar.

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