‘Wall-E’ gives fair warning

Matt Busekroos

Disney and Pixar’s Academy Award-winning feature “Wall-E” poses a futurist dilemma where the Earth is covered in trash and debris. A robot, Wall-E, is designed specifically to help clean up the waste covered Earth left in turmoil from humans. Humans are living in “The Axiom” in outer space where they have created their own life as they wait for the Earth to undergo new forms of photosynthesis and wait for toxicity levels to decrease.

Over the years, every Wall-E robot broke down, except one, who began collecting items from his surroundings. During that time, Wall-E manages to survive on the parts from the defunct robots.

One day as Wall-E cleans, a shuttle lands with a space probe named Eve. She begins her job of scanning the planet in search of plant-life. While Eve does not think much of Wall-E at first, the two bond when Wall-E saves Eve from an impending dust storm. The interaction between Wall-E and Eve is the heart and soul of the film. Even though they are essentially machines, the two have more emotion than any of the humans in the film. They are true love personified and sparks literally fly when the two embrace.

Once Wall-E shows Eve the plant-life he discovered while cleaning, the two are transported to “The Axiom” where Wall-E encounters humans for the first time.

Imagine living in a world unlike planet Earth where people are fat and constantly eating. Oh, wait.. Even in the future dreamed up by the creative team at Pixar, humans continue to mosey on through life with seemingly little purpose other than to distance themselves further from human interaction. The humans depicted in the film do not walk and are transported from place to place as they sit comfortably, while doing nothing. Children are taught by computers with little instruction from teachers. The people are not intelligent and need computers to define such simple words like “Earth” and “sea.” Specifically, the buffoonish Captain B. McCrea (voiced by Jeff Garlin) is completely inept, but manages to overcome the inevitable obstacles featured in most animated films.

However, “Wall-E” is not the typical animated film. There is little to no dialogue in the first half hour of the feature and the themes proposed are prevalent to society in 2009 despite the film taking place 700 years in the future. The humans are too reliant on technology and believe physical activity is some sort of myth (they cannot even walk). Directed by Andrew Stanton, “Wall-E” is deft in its political correctness showing the slow tarnish of Earth and how humans are becoming more distant from one another due to lack of face to face contact.

The visuals of “Wall-Et” are revolutionary; Pixar has come a long way since their first film, “Toy Story,” which was released in 1995. The sequences in space are luminous and are reminiscent to the lustrous scenes in the ocean in 2003’s “Finding Nemo” (another Andrew Stanton-helmed feature for Pixar). However, the humans are not quite as developed as the machines or scenery (on Earth and in space).

Thomas Newman’s musical score enhances the film and it is quite different from some of his previous works, including last year’s “Revolutionary Road.” Newman also collaborated with singer/song-writer Peter Gabriel on the Oscar-nominated song, “Down to Earth,” which plays over the end credits.

As Earth Day approaches on April 22, “Wall-E” should help raise questions about the future and how to protect the Earth from crumbling into nothing but toxic waste. “Wall-E” beautifully and masterfully succeeds in promoting awareness. There are no simple solutions and the film does not provide any easy answers. It is up to humans to set forth the course of action for the future.

What’s next for Pixar?

In recent years, Pixar has released films about toys, bugs, monsters, fish, cars, rats and robots. Now, a grumpy old man is at the center of their next project, “Up.” “Up” is set to open the Cannes Film Festival on May 13 and will be released nationwide on May 29 in 3-D. “Up” centers on one old man’s journey to see South Africa and in the process ties thousands of balloons to his house. But a surprise from one unexpected stowaway traveler makes for an even crazier journey.

In 2010, “Toy Story 3” will be released and details about the project have been closely guarded. Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Little Miss Sunshine,” is tackling the third installment in Pixar’s series.

Pixar will release two more original films in 2011 with “Newt” and “The Bear and the Bow.” Reese Witherspoon, Emma Thompson and Julie Walters are attached to perform voice-over’s in the latter film, which is about Merida (Witherspoon), a member of the royal family in Scotland, who gives up her family to live out her dream as an archer. However, some of Merida’s hasty choices will result in her needing to set things straight.

A sequel to 2006’s “Cars” is already scheduled to be released for summer 2012.