Magazine article The Spectator

Dystopian Love STOR.E

Magazine article The Spectator

Dystopian Love STOR.E

Article excerpt

WALL.E

U, Nationwide

WALL.E, the latest CGI animation from Pixar in collaboration with Disney, has already been hailed as a 'modern masterpiece' -- in America, at least -- but I'm not so sure. It has a cracking, enthralling, wonderfully dystopian first half, but after that it appears mostly concerned with hurtling towards one of those predictable endings that are just too CUTES·E (hey, anyone can interpunct, you know) and DISN·E (see? ) for words. WALL·E is exceptionally good, just as Toy Story was, and The Incredibles, but not Cars or Ratatouille -- too heavy-handed -- but a masterpiece? I'm thinking a 'masterpiece' should ultimately take you somewhere surprising, somewhere you didn't expect, into something new, but I could be wrong, just as I am wrong about most things, although, thinking about it, if I'm wrong about that, then I'm actually right. WHOOP·E!

WALL·E is set in 2700 on a litter-strewn earth abandoned by humans. The planet can no longer sustain life so they have all fled to cruise ships in space. WALL·E, which stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earthclass, as you probably guessed, is, in fact, the last (sort of) living thing on the planet; the last of the mini-robots left behind to collect and compact the rubbish. He is basically a tin can on tracks with binoculars for a head, but by tilting it this way, or that, he is capable of an astonishing range of expressions: curious, beseeching, winsome, scared. Mostly, though, WALL.E is lonely and longs for companionship; a longing wonderfully captured in the way he lovingly fondles human memorabilia -- forks; Rubik's cubes; a light bulb -- and, back at his pad, watches his video of Hello, Dolly! , playing and replaying the smoochy bits between Cornelius Hackl and Irene Molloy. He practises holding hands by holding his own hand. Seriously, if you don't feel tears pricking at your eyelids then you are extremely hard-hearted and, possibly, a knife-carrying hoodie. Are you?

The first 20 minutes are dialogue free and brilliant, as well as strangely beautiful, and there is every chance you will think, as I did, 'Something is really going on here.' Even the skyscrapers constructed from compacted rubbish are strangely beautiful. And it's packed with inventive little details -- one of those silly, Billy Bass singing fish, for example, still going strong after all these years -- but then the narrative kicks in, as it must I suppose, and after that it is never as good again. …

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