24th July 2008 – 8.27 am

After the amazing Kung Fu Panda I had high hopes when seeing the more highly rated Wall-E, Pixar's latest animated feature film. The opening scenes don't disappoint, as we are shown visually amazing photo-realistic depictions of a bleak city-scape to introduce us to the main character and his world. Sadly, it's pretty much downhill from there.

Wall-E's isolated existence is shared with a lone cockroach, which makes 'sproing' noises when jumping to plant the film firmly in the 'kids' category, until EVE turns up. Wall-E's fascination with EVE is understandable, with the new robot being not only a refreshing break from Wall-E's monotony but also stunningly high-tech. We are then led on a romantic fairy tale of wishes and hope, as Wall-E follows EVE to the end of the galaxy to help complete her directive at the cost of his own.

The two main characters are nicely conceived and look the part, but neither seem particularly sympathetic. For a robot that is designed to find sustainable life it seems highly contradictory for her to shoot and blow up anything that moves without first scanning it, which happens on more than one occasion. It may lead to 'cute' or 'funny' initial misunderstandings but it is surely entirely against the supposed character of the unit. Wall-E isn't much better in being entirely lovable. When the time comes where he chooses to follow EVE Wall-E tells his cockroach pal to stay put. The only friend and companion we are shown Wall-E to have is abandoned, with no idea of how long for, without a second thought!

The story is limited by the protagonists being unable to communicate directly, and we are guided through the plot mostly through the robots' mime and by some initially heavy-handed exposition, with some more carefully crafted scenes later on. The humour of the film consists almost entirely of Wall-E bumping, falling, or getting hit by something, and it becomes entirely too predictable, although there are some original and amusing visual gags scattered throughout.

As a romantic fairy tale Wall-E works well, with whimsical characters being led by and following their 'hearts' and holding idealistic values that ultimately lead to a better future for everyone. But it is this reliance on romance where the film suffers, relying too heavily on the idea that a single interaction with an unknown entity affects another entity significantly enough to change its life forever. This becomes strained not just through its overuse but also from the main characters' general inability to communicate verbally, forcing too much anthropomorphic empathy on to them.

As it turned out, the short film that Pixar traditionally presents before a feature, which this time was Presto, was far more enjoyable than Wall-E, because of its concentrated and tight structure coupled with well-implemented visual gags and a quickly established empathy with the bunny. As a feature-length film Wall-E is overly long and too-often predictable, offering little but a visual spectacular as stunning graphics create an amazingly detailed world. Wall-E would have made yet another fantastic short film for Pixar, and it's a shame that it was drawn out to such a length as to have made it a mediocre offering from the animation studio.

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