Oscar Reviews: Wall-E

Avra Bossov (’11)/Eastside Global Commentary Editor

Oscar Nominations (6):

  • – Best Animated Feature Film (Andrew Stanton)
  • – Best Original Screenplay (Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter)
  • – Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)
  • – Best Original Song- “Down to Earth” (Peter Gabriel)
  • – Best Sound (Tom Myers, Ben Burtt, Michael Sermanick)
  • – Best Sound Editing (Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood)

Pixar, a corporation started by animation genius John Lasseter, bought by Disney in 2006, has done it again.  It has created an animated movie that utilizes the newest technology along with an endearing story with redeeming qualities, that is.

Wall E, which came out on June 27, 2008, is essentially a love story between two robots: Wall E, the last of his kind on Earth, and EVE, a directive from the Axiom ship that departed 700 years ago from Earth, as toxicity levels rose too high for human inhabitancy. Wall E and his cockroach sidekick, reminiscent of the cricket in Mulan (1998), appear to be the last survivors of the terrors of global warming, and meet EVE during her routine check on Earth for vegetation. Wall E, a collector of special trinkets found within the giant landfill Earth has become, which we would consider trivial objects such as Igloo lunchboxes and a paddleball, gives EVE a tour of his collection and shows her his most prized possession-a plant. However, upon scanning the plant, EVE is whisked back to the Axiom, where the humans live galaxies away on a spaceship resort. Wall E latches himself onto the ship, for he doesn’t want to lose EVE.

Once on the Axiom ship, the audience is introduced to what human society has become: morbidly obese, flying around in hover chairs and only communicating virtually through holographic screens, to the point where occupants are not even aware there is a pool on the Axiom. Since the plant is a symbol that the humans should return to life, for life is now sustainable, there is a struggle over the plant between the captain of the ship and Auto, the captain’s computer. Wall E and EVE struggle to escape the garbage chute, and must help the captain defeat Auto so that Wall E, EVE and all of the humans can return safely back to Earth.

Director Andrew Stanton knew what he was doing when he thought of the original story with Pete Docter. Stanton has also contributed to the story ideas for Toy Story (1995) and Finding Nemo (2003). Wall E is set apart from other Disney and Pixar movies due to the endearing details that the omniscient audience can appreciate, such as when the cockroach lives inside a Twinkie and when Wall E puts a bra over his eyes.

The sound effects for this film were the chief challenge in making it, because Wall E and EVE do not speak. Instead, the audience relies on a variety of beeps and motions to understand how these robots communicate. The excellence in which this task was executed lies in sound connoisseur Ben Burtt, whose award-winning and industry-changing creations include Darth Vader’s breathing and the voice of R2D2. The soundtrack, which features excerpts from “Hello Dolly!” (Michael Crawford) and main theme “Down to Earth” (Peter Gabriel, Newman), provides a connection between the past, present and future. 

Wall E serves as a grim reminder that Earth is in bad condition and is only getting worse, but also  redeems hope that one day the world can be fixed again, if we work together to save the world, planting one “pizza” plant at a time (the captain’s favorite). Maybe that’s why the film grossed $63 million its opening weekend.