Monday, February 16, 2009
#5 - WALL-E
I don't think WALL-E really requires an introduction anymore. It seems like everyone and their brother has seen it by now (rightfully so) and that most of us agree that the movie is nothing short of terrific (again, rightfully so). As such, in the interest of saving you from my habitual long-windedness and me the trouble of rehashing the same praise hundreds of critics have already bestowed upon the work of genius that is WALL-E, I shall do my best to keep this post short and (hopefully) sweet.
WALL-E is superior to the average motion picture for myriad reasons: gorgeous CGI, relevant subject matter, and expressive, endearing, well-developed characters are just the beginning of the list. But what makes WALL-E a truly great film has nothing to do with technology or topical content or even the undeniable cuteness of its anthropomorphic robots. WALL-E's ace-in-the-hole is its story and the skillful execution thereof.
In the latest issue of TIME magazine, film critic Richard Corliss notes on his annotated Oscar ballot that WALL-E's screenplay is the "best silent film script since 'Sunrise'". The great compliment doesn't make complete sense, seeing as WALL-E isn't truly a silent film, but Corliss' heart is in the right place. Sunrise, in case you're unfamiliar, is a 1927 silent film by the German director F.W. Murnau and is viewed by many cinephiles (this one included) as one of the best films ever made. For an esteemed critic to liken any film to Sunrise is a pretty big deal. WALL-E has earned the comparison. Its story is straight-forward yet original, and the themes explored are universal; anyone who has felt love can understand what moves WALL-E to such extreme measures.
Bringing a relatively simple story to dynamic life on a movie screen is impressive enough. Accomplishing such a task when your film's central characters are incapable of talking to one another (at least in the most conventional sense) is even more remarkable. Excepting pre-recorded audio and video, human beings do not enter WALL-E until the 39-minute mark. Yet for 39 minutes, we, the audience, understand each and every emotion and idea expressed by WALL-E, his cockroach pal, and EVE. All via a combination of beeps, chirps, facial expressions, and body language. Two robots, one insect, full emotional comprehension. Incredible.
Corliss makes one other note about WALL-E on his annotated ballot: "Should've been up for Best Picture". There's no need for qualification here, Corliss said it all.