Even for Pixar, this might be a first: an animated film that contains not only a fully realized world as photorealistic as it is teeming with wonder, but also the Gargantuan themes and visuals of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, the kind of stripped-down sad-clown pathos reserved for classic Buster Keaton comedies, and one of the most moving love stories in a long time. Director Andrew Stanton kicked up the visual acuity of an already-stellar Pixar Studios in 2003 with his reflective, refractive, color-shimmery realization of FINDING NEMO's oceanic world, which genuinely felt as though it spanned the entire earth. Now, with WALL-E, Stanton replaces an estranged journeyer of an apprehensively fishy disposition with a curious and love-struck robotic one, allowing the quest for eternal love to extend from a desolate, dust-covered, palpably polluted future Earth and into an even more mysterious abyss: the far reaches of outer space.
With virtually no dialogue, WALL-E's neatly contained, eerily vaudevillian first act introduces the tragic robot of the title. Whirring amid dilapidated skyscrapers and equally tall compacted trash heaps, he's the last living thing on Earth (aside from a little cockroach friend). WALL-E has developed a tender and inquisitive personality doing what he was built to do--allocate and dispose of human waste--day in and day out for the past 700 years simply because no one turned him off when the human race left the now-hostile planet. Soon though, the directive-oriented automaton Eve comes crashing into WALL-E's life from above, immediately becoming the object of his infatuation. At the drop of a hat, the little guy follows her back into the dangerous unknown, where the sight of two robots gliding through the cosmic ether, dancing via fire-extinguisher propulsion, joins the many memorable moments of a deceptively simple, expansively romantic story.