Dir: Andrew Stanton
There is a lot to love about Pixar's WALL-E, although it relies heavily of familiarity. WALL-E himself, a small trash compacting robot left on a contaminated and rubbish-clogged Earth of 2805, is essentially a mix of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Short Circuit's Johnny 5. Andrew Stanton clearly has a penchant for sci-fi and I'm glad Pixar gave him the opportunity to venture not only into space but into the future. WALL-E is by far Pixar's most challenging and ambitious film, not only because much of the first half of the film is dialogue free but because it openly criticizes such big topics such a consumerism, corporatism, capitalism, obesity and the general dumbing down of society. Pixar has always been a family studio but this could have been seen as a bit much for what is essentially meant to be a kids film. However, Stanton delivers the message brilliantly and when an animated story can be told without the need for dialogue, you know you've mastered your craft. Not only did it win nearly every animation award going, it was also declared as being one of the most important films of the decade. There are lots messages within WALL-E, some hidden but most out in the open. WALL-E is the last robot of his kind left to clean the entire planet for himself, while the human race orbit above, living automated lives of pleasure, having very little purpose. They lay around all day, not once leaving their own hovering loungers, eating and sleeping their days to morbid obesity. They are easily manipulated into thinking in controlled ways, given the illusion of choice and told they are happy so much so that they choose to believe it. It's a bright and colourful cartoon version of a dystopian future were progress has taken a very different meaning. It's frighteningly believable. WALL-E, managing to survive from the parts of other robots and continuing to work even though he has been abandoned, is a celebration of individuality and perseverance. It's an amazing way of teaching children the importance of self-worth and one's individual responsibility as well as environmental responsibility. It also explores the importance of understanding, communication and learning from one's own mistakes, while also being fun, exciting and rather adorable. I'm shocked that the right-wing contingent didn't condemn it frankly, as I'm not sure the messages can really be overlooked. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey but for kids. It's a profound film, beautifully animated, brilliantly written and something rather special. A modern classic.