Can Pixar do no wrong? On the evidence of the CG animation studio’s ninth feature film, the answer is a resounding no. Once again Pixar pushes the envelope in the field it’s been trailblazing since the early 1980s, delivering another spectacular cinematic experience that’s also enormously engaging on an emotional level.
Having tackled toys (twice), bugs, monsters, fish, superheroes, cars and rats, director Andrew Stanton (A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo) and his team take on science fiction. Inspired by genre classics from the 1960s and 70s (2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running, Star Wars and Alien, most obviously in this richly referential film), they’ve created a post-apocalyptic story set in a future in which the Earth has been abandoned by humankind, having been made uninhabitable by the race’s propensity for generating rubbish. While what’s left of them continue to languish in a life of conspicuous consumption aboard a luxurious star-liner in deep space, a solitary robot left behind and forgotten on Earth named WALL-E executes his now pointless trash collecting programme. With only a cockroach for companionship and a battered VHS of the Hollywood musical Hello Dolly! to keep him entertained, the lonely little robot keeps himself busy building skyscraper-sized pills of compacted rubbish among New York City’s desolate urban canyons. Until, that is, the arrival of an ultra-hi-tech scout robot named Eve, sent from the human colony to search for signs of life on Earth. She finds it and WALL-E finds Eve, and together the last two robots on Earth set off on an interstellar adventure, and a very down-to-earth romance.
At its heart, then, Pixar’s latest film is a very sweet romantic comedy, and it’s that which provides the film with its emotional clout. Beyond that, it’s a thrilling sci-fi adventure with an environmental message (that’s not shoved down the audience’s throat). And on a technical level it’s another quantum leap for Pixar, who here worked with the ace cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men) to achieve imperfect-looking visuals that make the whole fantastic voyage that much more believable.
General release from Fri 18 Jul.