Starring: Pixar's usual fantastic animation and artwork... and very few words.
Story: The Earth has been made uninhabitable thanks to a build up of toxic rubbish and humanity has headed to the stars. After centuries, only one of the robots left behind to clear up remains operational - WALL-E. He has a pet cockroach and longs for love (not with the cockroach, I hasten to add).
Then, one day, a probe arrives from space containing the robot of his dreams...
Comments: You have to give Pixar credit for pushing boundaries. While other studios have been playing catch-up with the quality of their animation and scripts, Pixar have moved on to making movies with feeling and depth and meaning. There are no overweight pandas falling down stairs in comic fashion here. The first half hour has almost no verbal dialogue. Pathos is created through emotive movement, sweeping vistas and archetypal imagery. Great effort is extended in making us care for an abandoned robot on a desolate world and to empathise with his faltering attempts to find companionship. It...
Oh, goodness, I was bored. You know, like that bit halfway through Cars where the pace turns to treacle and you just want something (anything!) to happen. After twenty minutes of WALL-E I was seriously worried whether I could last another hour or so of a lonely robot wandering brown landscapes.
Fortunately, the film picks up. WALL-E and his girlfriend reach an interstellar cruise-liner full of obese people and chaos ensues. Everyone falls over a lot. Stuff happens.
It's pretty predictable stuff, though, and there's still not much dialogue. There are a couple of messages - one ecological and another about avoiding dependency on technology - but they're so incredibly broad and obvious that the lesson which actually sticks in the mind is to not become so fat that you can't roll over.
All this puts rather a lot of pressure on the slender and unlikely plot. The story centres around a small plant that WALL-E finds on Earth. It's the first sign that the planet is habitable again.
Exactly how toxic would things have to get for every weed on Earth to die? My back yard is entirely slabbed over and gets occasionally sprayed with herbicide - nevertheless, it's got all manner of flora sprouting from it. If I leave it the entire summer, I have to cut a path through with a machete and keep an eye out for overweight pandas.
Fighting over a single plant feels very contrived.
There are several further believability issues but it would be picky to mention them. Any other animated film could get away with these things. Maybe I was put in an unreceptive mood by the unexpectedly slow start. Perhaps, though, in making a world that looks real, Pixar made me expect more realism in the events.
The rest of my family certainly enjoyed the film much more than I did. The boys couldn't decide whether they liked this or Prince Caspian best. Personally, my favourite bit was the short film which came on first called Presto which involves a magician having a slapstick altercation with his hungry rabbit. It was crammed with more action and ideas than the feature.
Conclusion: If the kids want to watch this every day for a month when it comes out on DVD, at least the lack of speech will make it easy for me to ignore.
Explosions: Occasional and small.
Dialogue: Occasional and brief.
Artistic moments: Frequent and slightly too long.
Overweight pandas falling down the stairs: None.
Overweight humans rolling down a hill: Not enough...