I’ve always had a hard time figuring out just where to place WALL·E in the Pixar pantheon for a couple reasons, the biggest of which is that WALL·E is a rare masterpiece that gets steadily worse across its runtime. The more the movie focuses on the fat humans and environmentalism parable, the more it feels like a run-of-the-mill good movie; and the less it feels like a generationally profound piece of cinema.
The movie’s first hour really is that great. When WALL·E centers on its title character and his beautiful curiosity in the face of armageddon, contrasting the chipper music of the Hello, Dolly! with a lifeless wasteland, it’s a miracle on screen. Every bit of character animation and bleak, desaturated world-building is perfection. The verbal minimalism is almost avant-garde.
The other robots are great, too. There’s a potent vein as the film juxtaposes photorealistic CGI against machines — the essence of industrial artifice and cold inhumanity — that move and emote like real creatures.
So even though that third act (a 2001 pastiche examining the ironies of people less alive than the machinery around them) is much less interesting than the first hour, I’ve never been higher on WALL·E as a complete film. Its on-and-off moments of transcendence stand out more and more every time I watch.
- Review Project: 2009 Top 100
Masterpiece: Tour De Good (8/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.