Without a doubt, the biggest surprise for me at this year’s WonderCon was my reaction to Pixar’s new film Wall-E. Obviously I knew it existed, but honestly, I just didn’t care all that much. Unlike a lot of people who apparently believe the folks at Pixar walk on water and poop rainbows, I’m not exactly sold on their genius and infallibility. This is partly due to the fact that I work one block away from their Bay Area compound in Emeryville, and I see the schleps that come walking through their big iron gates, smiling and happy after a game of volleyball or a walk around their well-manicured lawns and ponds… so we’ll label that bitterness I suppose. But secondly, and more importantly, I just don’t agree that all of their films have been untouchable masterpieces. Finding Nemo is, but that’s it. The others run the gamut from really good (Toy Story) to obnoxious (Cars).
Writer/director Andrew Stanton crossed the bay to preview Wall-E and after seeing these four clips I have to say I’m sold. The first is a montage scene showing a day in the life of Wall-E, the last robot on Earth, still doing what he was programmed to do. He spends each day gathering and compacting trash into little cubes that he stacks into big organized piles. Over the years he’s also developed a personality and has been collecting items that intrigue him. A rubber ducky, a ring box (he tosses aside the engagement ring inside), and other odds and ends all end up in his cooler. Clip two shows the arrival of a new robot, EVE, and Wall-E’s efforts to impress “her” with his treasures. There are some nice gags involving bubble wrap, a Rubik’s Cube, and one of those stupid wall-mounted fish that move and sing when someone passes by. Clip three finds EVE back on her ship as it prepares to launch. Wall-E tries to reach her and hops a ride on the exterior of the ship as it takes off. This scene is incredibly beautiful as the ship exits the atmosphere and begins its journey through space. The visuals of the sun and moon, space particles and distant galaxies are incredible… even more so because after the scene Stanton actually apologized for the clip being unfinished and in need of more work! The final clip has EVE trying to send Wall-E back to Earth because he doesn’t belong on their ship. They both hide when a smaller robot whizzes past to deposit a potted plant, one stem rising from the dirt, into one of the pods. Wall-E enters the pod to retrieve the plant for EVE, but the doors close and the pod is launched as an automated self-destruct sequence starts on the console. EVE jettisons out to save him… and the pod explodes.
Across these four scenes, and with extremely limited (almost non-existent) dialogue, Wall-E pulled me in to the emotions of the story and the relationship completely. Wall-E’s personality is relayed so strongly from his actions, interests, and the movement of his “eyes” (Stanton was inspired at an Oakland A’s game while playing with a pair of binoculars). Surrounded by the trappings of science fiction, Stanton maintains this is a love story at its core. He denied the rumors that there’s zero dialogue in the film. He says there is dialogue, but you just don’t always understand what’s being said. Additionally, for those of you who were concerned… John Ratzenberger is in the movie. Should be easy to spot as he’s playing a character named John.
Wall-E opens June 27th.