Wall-E’s Enemies and Ranking the Pixar Films

by Benjamin Domenech on 11:29 am July 1, 2008


>> Some people have the tendency to see politics in everything. It’s often there, yes – I’m sure you could dissect the politics of Dora the Explorer if you wanted to, and without Googling, I’m confident someone has – but it really does detract from just experiencing a work of pop art. [Not everything is politics politics politics – I recall hearing about the director of some piece of horror dreck, perhaps it was The Hills Have Eyes 2, arguing in a plea for relevance that his movie was a response to the Iraq War. Yeah, sure it was buddy.] Such is the case with the lovely Wall-E, which – while not the best thing Pixar has ever created (The Incredibles, Toy Story 2, and Ratatouille are better films – and Nemo is more beautiful) – is a lovely, excellent piece of cinema, and superior to just about anything else you’ll see this year from any studio.

But it seems like a lot of folks are getting stuck on the lecture underneath Wall-E, as opposed to just viewing it as a piece of film art that is incredibly ambitious and challenging. For my own part, I just recommend reading one review – Lileks’:

Pixar’s gift for deft, precise, economical character delineation might have hit its apogee with Eve. It’s all in the tilt of the head and the shape of the eyes – the latter defined by ten blue lines. At first they have two or three shapes; by the end they’ve adopted the shape of Wall-E’s own eyes, indicating her own progression towards awareness and empathy. She is a hard plastic cipher at the beginning; by the end, she is Princess Charming. Literally. (That’s another Disney throwback reference I haven’t seen anyone else note.)

Wall-E’s actions when he sits down, knocks his treads together and pats the seat next to him may, I suspect, have been vetted and discussed and considered at great length. (Or not.) It’s the most overtly human action he makes in the entire film – it’s not emulative of humans, it’s instinctive.

Eve’s vocalizations change here, if I recall correctly – there’s nothing in her previous utterances that reveal any emotion that’s not consistent with top-level programming. “No – no” is the moment that makes us see what Wall-E saw in her – and just to underscore the Pixar gift, the moment is understated. Prior to this she’s been an impatient professional.

Just scroll down in the Videos section, and watch the Space Walk.

Update: I noticed that more than a few online critics have taken the opportunity to rank the Pixar films now that there are enough of them to do so. Here’s my own Top Ten, FWIW – it clearly displays my Brad Bird bias:

10. Lifted (I know it’s a short)
9. A Bug’s Life
8. Cars
7. Toy Story
6. Finding Nemo
5. Wall-E
4. Monsters, Inc.
3. Ratatouille
2. Toy Story 2
1. The Incredibles

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