Cold skin, warm heart

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 July, 2008, 12:00am

The geniuses at Pixar have done it again. After the huge successes of Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and last summer's Ratatouille, they have created another gawp-worthy animation, WALL-E.

Bearing visual and aural parallels to Kubrick's Space Odyssey 2001, WALL-E is ground-breaking and pushes the CG genre to a higher level. It bravely abandons the usual adorable animal characters in favour of mountainous skyscrapers of rubbish, a tiny robot and a cockroach.

Protagonist WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is a tiny, worn-out robot with no purpose other than collecting, compacting and piling rubbish. From the absolute desolation, we learn that the lonesome robot is the last one of its kind on the planet.

The first one-third of the movie is in utter silence apart from the scratchy music from a video of Hello, Dolly!, which makes WALL-E ache for love. But when EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), a futuristic and elegant robot, lands on Earth to search for evidence of life, life as WALL-E knows it changes utterly.

Falling in love at first sight, WALL-E's innocent and endless efforts to fawn over EVE adds a warmth to the film. This romantic element comes at exactly the right time to ease the audience out of the suffocating solitude of the first part.

From the minute WALL-E boards the luxurious hotel-like spaceship the Axiom in pursuit of EVE, the mood of the movie turns 180 degrees. The solitude is replaced by the clamour of a futuristic city, which fills the screen with a dazzling variety of robots, speedy transportation system and carefree humans.

Life on board is fascinating: people lead effortless lives, communicating through paper-thin monitors, being moved by computerised armchairs and receiving such attentive service from robots they don't have to move a muscle.

But it's soon revealed 700 years of this comfortable existence has caused their limbs to degenerate to the stage where they can barely walk unaided.

Insanely hilarious plots seldom succeed in getting the audience to think, but too much irony or satire creates boredom and even bitterness. WALL-E strikes exactly the right balance. It is both funny and pathetic to see the human captain struggling to walk in the final 'fight' scene.

WALL-E is more than just a cartoon. Underneath the jaw-dropping animation and romantic liaison between two robots is a subtle green message. Instead of lecturing you on how urgent it is to stop producing waste, it shows you in a matter-of-fact way the disastrous consequences if we don't change our consumer behaviour without delay.

WALL-E is showing now