Thank goodness I managed to save up a couple bucks. That meant I could head over to the multiplex after work and see the new Pixar movie on its opening day.
I don't have nearly enough time to go into depth, so I'll do that this weekend. It's much better for you, since I'm really wanting to go into depth and basically spoil everything for you. Hah.
I remember praising Ratatouille to the heavens, but I don't know if I would feel the same way if I watched it again. I'm a great fan of Pixar, and I'm openly pushing them to drive forward creatively, and break through with the new animation paradigm that America so desperately needs. At the time, I thought they had achieved their "Sgt. Pepper" breakthrough into the promised land; but now, I think that was a bit early to declare. Of course, I do love the movie, but it's not the paradigm shift.
With Wall-E, Pixar is now firmly into their second phase, their "Rubber Soul" period. It's much more mature in a lot of respects; more mature and grown up than the early movies, and far beyond the stale pastry handed down by all the other Hollywood studios. The competition may be happy to settle with dumb violence, bad stand-up comedy bits, and fart jokes, but it's pretty damn obvious that Pixar has left them far behind. At this point, I honestly don't see anyone in the English-speaking world even coming close.
The collection of upcoming animated movies shown in the trailers before Wall-E just drive that point home. It's almost as if this one studio is the sole defenders of the faith, and Frank Zappa was right all along about everybody else - We're Only in it for the Money. A talking Chihuawa movie? Are you kidding me? Another misfit mouse movie? Another road trip movie with stock animal characters?
The masters of animation, of course, remain and shall always be Studio Ghibli. And that's the real secret of this little game, folks, for Pixar remain their most devoted students. It's pretty clear that if there ever is to be an American Heidi, an American Horus, an American Totoro, it's coming from these brilliant folks.
So, yeah, I really loved Wall-E from the very start. Most of it, anyway. I don't think Andrew Stanton was able to figure out a proper ending, so things change gears in the third act. But I'll go into greater detail later. I am also firmly aware that - by all accounts - I'm being a picky baby. Wall-E is without question the best American animated movie of the year. But it's a transitional film, a transitional work in all its good and bad overtones. Which means I'll end up firmly defending this movie and criticizing it at the same time.
So, to keep things short - okay, short for me - I'll list a couple things I really loved. I love the character designs. Wall-E is a terrific little robot. It's very simple, very iconic, where the basics of the design are mastered first, and all that wonderful paint is splattered on later. There's an expressiveness to him, a tenderness and humor present. Scott McCloud would be so proud.
Eve, the futuristic robot, whose romance with Wall-E is the heart and soul of this picture, also looks terrific, and her iconic qualities are even more apparant. We're only dealing with basic geometric shapes here. When you're watching this movie, just think about the way they're both designed. Very simple, very basic, but yet extremely expressive. There's also a great contrast between the rusty cube-like robot and the sleek, shiny love interest from outer space.
I love the fact that so much of this movie is without speaking dialog. There are lots of blips and whirrs, but it's more in the Harpo Marx variety. When the two of them exchange their first words, it's a touching moment, a real breakthrough. The entire script for the two leads probably couldn't fill a single piece of paper, but it works, it works wonderfully. And all throughout the film, I'm wondering to myself, why don't more animated movies do this? American animation is rooted in the silent film era. That's where the old cartoon paradigms were birthed. Besides, I'm a great fan of Charlie Chaplin. And I really hate all these loud, gabby cartoons.
Let's see...art direction was fantastic. Colors and details and artwork to die for. These people at Pixar really are miles ahead of anyone else in America. What more? Hmm....time's up. Sorry. I'll start spilling the beans. You know enough already to get your ticket. Go watch, then come back and we'll chat. Later, kids!
Oh, and please don't take your kids to any of those other cartoons. Seriously. Go see this one.