June 29, 2008

I don't want to survive, I want to live!

Last night, I went to see WALL-E. I'm not the first and I won't be the last, but I have to applaud John Lasseter's crew at Pixar for another job well done. I can only hope that he can spread the magic to Disney Animation, since he's the Chief Creative Officer of that now, too.

Before we get to the main attraction, I wanna talk about two things: one of the trailers, and the traditional Pixar pre-movie short. First, there was a trailer for Disney's next non-Pixar 3D animated movie, Bolt. It's about a dog who plays a "superdog" on TV, only he doesn't know it. I have to admit this looks interesting, but it seems much more like a traditional kids/family movie than anything Pixar produces. In fact, just the trailer makes one big point the differentiates Pixar from most of modern animation: it gives quite a bit of focus to the voice talent. I'm not saying they shouldn't get recognition (especially people like Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille), but that it shows that perhaps the production companies are focused too much on one aspect of the production.

The short, Presto, is about a rabbit who just wants his carrot and the magician trying to perform a hat trick with the rabbit. Hilarity ensues because the magician's hat is indeed magically connected to another hat (a wizard's hat of all things), and the rabbit uses this to his advantage. It's a brilliantly hilarious piece of animation completely lacking in voice, in a way reminiscent of the silent comedies of a bygone era.

WALL-E, in its own way, is a cautionary tale of waste, love, laziness, and life - which isn't to say it's not a family movie, as all the Pixar films have been, because it most definitely is. Most of the movie lacks traditional dialogue, though there is quite a bit in the second half. There are, to my mind fewer laugh out loud moments compared to Presto, but the movie definitely keeps it self light-hearted.

For those who don't know the premise, WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class) is about a robot, one of many, left behind to clean up the Earth's trash problem. After 700 years, he's the only one of his kind still functional and he's developed a personality. His world and life are changed when a spaceship lands and deposits EVE, another robot, onto the surface.

It's odd that it does so, but WALL-E actually makes me think of the current Battlestar Galactica series. Let me explain: several times, the elder Adama has made a point that it's not enough to survive, that humanity has to be worthy of its survival. I wouldn't say that WALL-E says quite that, but the film does make the point that survival isn't enough: you have to live. Slowly but surely, as the film progresses, the robots and people with whom WALL-E comes into contact start to break out of their mere survival routines and start to live.

It's really quite amazing.