WALL-E-yed Critics

Finding Nemo was over-rendered treacle so this blog has no particular interest in seeing Wall-E, by the same director (Andrew Stanton) and over-hyped studio (Pixar). Unaccountably the movie received a 96% "Fresh" rating on the Tomato-Meter at Rottentomatoes, a review-crunching site, which means the critics are marching in lockstep. Look past the numbers, though, and here's what they're saying (the first of these crits, The Guardian's, was assigned a "Fresh" tag by Rottentomatoes' apparently biased staff):

For all that, faint doubts remain. WALL-E (the character) is eminently lovable, by far the film's most human inhabitant. And yet WALL-E (the movie) actually has more in common with EVE [the space probe that trash compactor WALL-E falls in love with --ed]. It is an exquisitely rendered piece of work; beautiful, flawless, serious in its intent and hermetically sealed. You can admire it to the skies and back. You can even learn to love it from a distance. But does Andrew Stanton's film amount to much more than a brilliant aesthetic exercise? I'm not convinced it does. (The Guardian)


But by the end, "WALL-E" has turned into something else again, a picture that's so adamant about ending on a feel-good note (or at least a feel-OK note) that it betrays the sad, subtle beauty of those early scenes. It must be that director Andrew Stanton -- the man behind the enormously successful Finding Nemo -- didn't want to make too much of a downer: Can't be sending all those tots home with the blues, can we? But the picture feels weirdly, and disappointingly, disjointed, something that starts out as poetry and ends as product. (Salon)


Though "WALL-E" is no thrill ride, it at least stays true to its core themes. Stanton is attempting no less than rabble-rousing prophecy, scolding the blinded populace into changing its ways (even as an all-consuming mega-corporation partners with the film, spawning toys and wrappers that will end up in landfills).
The film poses as thinking-fans animation, but there's little room for wonder or interpretation in the on-the-nose presentation. (Arizona Star)

Silent Running and Grave of the Fireflies (two films this is compared to) at least had the guts to end on downbeat notes. For those who prefer the chaotic expressionism of El Greco's paintings to the boring control of Raphael's, Pixar's hyper-Renaissance perfection is generally the wrong way to go as filmic art, but there is something especially awry with using this kind of futuristic, memory-intensive, render-farm computer animation to make a movie about entropy. That's probably why it has to end happy--assumptions about the scientific future of entertainment must ultimately be preserved at all costs.