Wall·E (2008)

(In theaters, June 2008) Even at its worst, Pixar makes better movies than 95% of what’s out there, and if Wall·E leaves too many uncomfortable questions open to debate, its willingness to raise such questions is enough to make this cute-robot movie one of the best SF movies of the year. There’s something admirable in how it manages to present a complete (even surprisingly deep) story with two main characters that barely share a twenty-word vocabulary: Lengthy moments pass without much more than sound effects, the plot building up through an accumulation of visual clues. When Wall·E expands to reveal a very different setting, more characters and a more urgent rhythm, it’s a minor miracle that it holds together. Beyond cute robots and slapstick gags, you’ll find a criticism of consumerism and at least three references to 2001. While some quieter bits are overdone, the rest of the film showcases Pixar’s trademark self-confidence in squeezing all potential out of their premises, flashing by the implications almost faster than anyone can catch. But by the end of the film, we’re left with a few issues that still haven’t been solved: There’s little indication that the errors of the past won’t be repeated and that the decision to come back won’t prove to be a pain for most: all of this is glossed over with an elaborate (and rather clever) epilogue-as-a-credit-sequence. Hm. But never mind that: It’s still one of the best movies of the year.

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