Revisiting movies I've recently acquired
While I genuinely enjoyed Wall·E the first time I saw it, I had some quibbles with its story structure, especially in how the humans' story encroaches on and then overtakes the robot love story, leading to a slightly unfocused experience. But, despite that issue, I found the film overwhelmingly enjoyable and was able to overlook it. I did wonder if I'd take more issue the second time around, but the best elements of Wall·E still help the film overcome its story balance issues and make Wall·E a wonder.
Set hundreds of years into the future, when humanity has escaped its excesses turning Earth into a wasteland, Wall·E (Ben Burtt) is the last running cleanup robot of his kind, working to clean up the waste left on the planet, having grown an eccentric personality and a bit of loneliness after the years. His tranquil existence is interrupted when EVE (Elissa Knight), a futuristic robot arrives on Earth in search of something. Wall·E is smitten, but as the two develop a friendship, EVE discovers what she was looking for and freezes up, waiting for those who sent her to come retrieve her, the captivated Wall·E following along and discovering the fate of humanity in space.
The two major stories of Wall·E actually work pretty well, both in the story of the romance between the lovelorn Wall·E and business-like EVE, but also the story of the lost human beings, who have grown completely complacent after hundreds of years on a spaceliner. However, the latter story actually manages to overshadow the former, taking up the core of the themes and dynamism in the film, with the human Captain (Jeff Garlin) almost taking over as the story's main protagonist in terms of growth and development. And so, even though the robots get the stronger emotional storyline, they don't quite have the heart of the film as the story of humanity's redemption seems to be the real story in the film and while the two stories do hook up, they are anchored in plot and not in point, which does result in the film feeling a little disjointed. That said, the parts still work well independently, even if humanity's story is a little preachy and simplistic, and the robots' love story has some very strong moments.
In terms of visual creativity and direction, Wall·E ranges from strong, to lovely and even breathtaking in a few moments. That the robots barely have any dialogue results in some amazing illustrative work, especially in the first half of the film, both set on Earth as Wall·E and later, Eve, go about their tasks and interact with each other, but a gorgeous ride into space and a dazzling dance in space with Wall·E and Eve are absolutely gorgeous. And the character design of these robots manage to give them a surprising amount of personality, despite their functional design as well. Wall·E looks gorgeous and many of the scenes are handled with a surprising amount of grace and even romance. In addition, Wall·E also happens to incorporate a small amount of live footage into it and it manages to mesh in well without disrupting the visuals of the film.
Wall·E has so much going for it in terms of visuals and individual narrative that I can look past the rather unbalanced, unfocused and unwieldy story, even the preachier elements and the massive gaps in scientific logic that are suggested by the credits animation. Rather, it's the robot story of love that convinces the most, although the Captain's own story is strong and dynamic enough to almost overshadow what is the central protagonists' story when it comes to a head. The "head" of the story might be with the humans, but the "heart" of the story is with these robots and fortunately, that's an element that works especially well with the characters and the art of the film. 9/10.