Victoria Jelinek


WALL-E
September 17, 2018, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Film reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Wall-E-Movie-PosterHumanity has abandoned planet earth, leaving behind them a fleet of robots to clean up their mess. When the movie opens, however, the only one of these robots remaining is WALL-E who is fascinated by garbage, cleaning it up each day, as he’s programmed to, and taking various ‘treasures’ he finds back to his home. His enchantment switches to a new target when a super-robot EVE touches down, looking for signs of life on earth.

Released ten years ago, I watched this again recently with my young son after seeing a small robot that cleaned a pool at a hotel we stayed at – day in, day out, without stopping – that reminded me of WALL-E. It was in this re-watching, though, with our ever-growing global behavior of consumption and waste, that I truly appreciated the ambition, charm, and visual wit of Pixar’s film. The story can only be the result of inspiration and passion rather than marketing meetings and focus groups, ‘cause WALL-E brings a message about being nice to our planet and the evils of big corporations (ironic, yes, given Disney owns Pixar, but hey ho, this film was made). The setting, a future earth composed of great skyscrapers of trash reaching toward a permanently overcast sky, is prescient. As are the signs for a mega corporation, “Buy and Large,” dotting the nihilistic landscape. While our hero speaks maybe four words – and he has no mouth, no eyebrows, no thumbs – everything WALL-E feels is perfectly palpable and authentic. He is one of the most expressive characters developed in animation. It’s in the nervousness of his gesticulations, the tilt of one of his lamp-like eyes, and his emotive sounds (designed by Ben Burtt, the man who gave us R2-D2’s beeps and tremors) that he is empathetic and believable. Meanwhile, the humans have been reduced to fat toddlers living in Lazy-Boy-type electronic recliners in space, whose every need is met with a touch of the screen that is perpetually in front of them. Enter WALL-E, who reminds us all what is important in life.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do, with or without children. WALL-E is, arguably, Pixar’s most brilliant film in a canon of excellent films produced by the studio. It’s a hopeful film that reminds us of what it is to feel joy.

 

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Finding Dory

A year after Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) helped reunite Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks), she has settled happily into her new life with them. Then Dory suddenly gets flashbacks from her childhood, so she sets out to find her parents at the last place she remembers them being all together – the Monterey Mfinding-dory-movie-poster-nemo-wallpaperarine Life Institute.

Critics of this film have grumbled charges of “sequelitis” against Pixar (Toy Story, Cars). Yes, the set up is similar to Finding Nemo: Dory goes in search of her parents and, returning the faith shown by Dory in the first ocean-spanning escapade, Marlin and Nemo join her. And yes, as characters are repeatedly separated and reunited, the storyline arguably gets a bit tedious. However, despite a familiar formula, there are tragic undercurrents such as loss, confusion, disappointment and fear, which make for a very human story. Meanwhile, these motifs are delivered alongside funny dialogue, vivid imagery, technical prowess, great characters, and fantastic casting (voices).

As is the case with most great family films, there is something here for both adults and children. Finding Dory is an emotionally complex, beautifully constructed, and hopeful piece about friendship, perseverance, and facing your own personal inhibitions.