Wall-E Review

Published 7 years ago by , Updated September 4th, 2012 at 8:37 am,

Short version: Technically Wall-E is the best film Pixar has made – it’s funny and heartwarming, but it’s also the preachiest.

Screen Rant’s Wall-E review

We haven’t given Wall-E as much coverage as some other movie sites, but nonetheless I’d been looking forward to seeing it ever since I saw a panel for the film last summer at the San Diego Comic-Con. In my mind there was no doubt that Pixar would knock another one out of the park with their quality approach to both story and the animation itself.

Well, they certainly succeeded as far as the animation goes – the film surpasses everything Pixar has done to date. Overall I enjoyed the film, but a few things kept it from being Pixar’s best work.

Pixar films have always had a message: Friendship, loyalty, teamwork, the importance of family and helping others – but I’ve never felt the message delivered with a heavy hand… until now. Wall-E (the movie, not the character) is the latest film to jump on the “we’re destroying the Earth” bandwagon – but it also warns against the dangers of sloth, gluttony and Instant Messaging.

Wall-E (the character) is a quirky little robot whose lonely job it is to compress, collect and organize the trash/junk left behind on Earth, which is now deserted by humans. Apparently there was an army of little robots just like our intrepid hero left behind to clean up the Earth after we had literally trashed it to where it was no longer habitable. Apparently it’s been a very long time since we left because he is the only robot left functioning. Somehow (and it is never explained how) he has acquired a personality. I don’t imagine that a trash collecting robot would need to be designed to have a personality to do its menial job.

Wall-E is very cute and we see much of the funny bits that have already been shown in trailers and commercials. We also meet his little buddy – a cockroach which I have to say is very cute, if you can say that about a roach. Wall-E is a collector of odds and ends and has shelves full of not only replacement parts (explaining how he’s managed to survive so long) but a large variety of all kinds of stuff he found interesting including hand mixers, light bulbs, butane lighters, and his favorite: a videotape that contains a scene from an old musical movie (sorry I don’t know which) that shows a dance number and ends with a couple holding hands romantically. This is where we see how lonely he is.

I have to mention right here that the CGI animation in this movie is phenomenal – especially within his “home” I would say that if it was shown outside the context of a CGI movie there is no way I’d be able to tell that it wasn’t an actual movie set populated with real objects. Truly amazing detail and lighting in the rendering. But in this same scene we see for the first time (although it is on a TV screen) actual live actors in a Pixar animated film. While my knee jerk reaction was that I didn’t like seeing them and it pulled me out of the magic of the film, I was prepared to accept it – but what happens later in the film made it make even less sense. I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, one day a giant spaceship arrives (which looked like a cool update of the classic rocket ships from 50’s sci-fi movies). From it comes a super-sleek, egg-shaped robot who we come to know as Eve. She is exploring and scanning the area, and for some reason seems highly paranoid for a robot exploring an abandoned planet, using a powerful weapon to blow the heck out of anything that startles her. She and Wall-E get off to a bit of a rough start but eventually they find a connection, with Wall-E having developed a crush on her.



Something happens to Eve which effectively shuts her down and Wall-E watches after her for days until the return of the giant ship, where he hitches a ride to end up on what is basically a giant space-ark. On the ship we meet a big variety of robots, each with its own specific task – and it’s quite funny watching our hero outsmart them as he tries to make his way deeper into the ship in order to not lose Eve.

We finally meet the humans on board who turn out to be the personification of sloth and gluttony, whizzing around on hover-chairs with virtual screens floating in front of their faces as they have online conversations with other people, oblivious to those around them and their environment. The seem to be as they are not through laziness but because it’s all they know.

Eventually we find out exactly what Eve’s mission was and the captain of the ship activates a pre-recorded video by the CEO of mega-corporation B&L (Buy ‘n Large, or really, President Bush) played by Fred Willard explaining to the captain of the ship exactly what he’s supposed to do.

So what didn’t I like? Here’s one thing that bugged me: Why were the people in the old movie shown earlier and especially Fred Willard live actors while the current population is CGI? No, I’m not saying the characters on the ark should have been live, I’m saying that Willard’s character and those in the old video should have been CGI characters as well. I just didn’t see the logic. Fine, now everyone was grossly overweight – so have slim CGI characters from the past appear as ancestors of the current population. Also here you have these people who are so huge and with such atrophied muscles that they can’t even move on their own in the micro-gravity of the ship, yet when they get to earth they walk off the ship just fine. Yeah, fine – call me nitpicky, I don’t care.

The bang-you-over-the-head-ness of the overall message also bugged me. Yes, we need to be more environmentally conscious and personally I’ve got a big sore spot for the obesity problem in the U.S., but geez… this is a Pixar movie. If I want that level of social commentary I’ll go rent Idiocracy.

What was great? Everything else. The animation was really stunning – their ability to tell a story with so little dialog was very impressive, and it was awesome to finally see Pixar tackle the final frontier. There really were quite a few laughs to be had in the film, and plenty of heartwarming moments as well. Once again Pixar manages to deliver a film that both children and adults can enjoy without any fart jokes or “over the kids’ heads” sexual references, and I give them huge props for that.

Also there are many, many nods to science fiction films that we all know and love, most notably of course, Star Wars and 2001, but there was even a G-rated nod to my all time favorite film: Aliens.

However for me, it didn’t quite leave me with the same sense of magic that I usually get from Pixar films. It’s far better than Cars, but I have to say I prefer the Toy Story movies and The Incredibles to Wall-E in terms of story.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. Green,

    Actually, I had the feeling that I had enjoyed the movie more after it was over than I did when I was watching it. I do intend to see it again.

    I think I set my expectations so high going in that I wasn’t as relaxed watching it as I would have been had I just not read any reviews or watched any clips offered. I think I had seen 80% of the first third of the movie from press release clips and previews. Trying to ‘cleanse the palate’ now so next time I’ll go in fresher and more at ease.

    Ironically, the same thing happened with “Ratatouille”, and it got better the second time around. I really should start learning from my mistakes :)

  2. Jersey, I know EXACTLY what you mean. Now imagine the added pressure of watching it knowing you have to write a review for it. :-)

    I actually think I may enjoy this more upon a second viewing (not that I didn’t enjoy it the first time).


  3. Ive have noticed that the reviews here tend to be overly critical – i find that most are going in expecting far too much from a movie. Yes there is LOTS of hype for allmost every film – but it’s up to YOU to decide what to expect.

    What is this thing of which i speak … well just a small thing called “entertainment” – this is THE one thing ALL movies are attempting to bring to us, and if vast majority manage to do this even in some small digree – then guess what they have done there job!

    I’ve not seen Wall.E yet as it’s not been realised over in the uk – but i will go to see it, and i allready know i will enjoy it becuse all i expect from it is something fun and lighthearted – i could decide to look at it deeper and any “message” it seems to deliver.

    I’ve seen all Pixar movies and not one have i ever felt that i was taught something – yes i’m not toaly stupid or blind you can usealy tell what the over all theme is and what the CHARATERS learn throughout the movie, but again it’s up to you to decide it’s telling YOU that same message.

    My overall point is i’m betting this movie isn’t pointing at any one socity (america isn’t the only place in the world guys – there are places else were with the exact same problems, anywhere that gives easy access for conveint “food”…so most of our planet then!!!

    If it made you feel guilty about your lifestyle maybe it was becuse of YOU – YOU pointed the finger at yourself and thought “hang on maybe i’m like that”. personaly i go in watch the movie and go out again i very rarely get affected by something unless it’s a more thought provokeing movie, which i very much doubt this is.

    This is fun, upbeat, cute and entertaining overall – essentialy it’s for kids and it’s not going to make you feel bad – in fact i think you all lost it’s point – it sounds like it’s saying one person CAN make a diffrence, you can wait for that person or you can BE that person.

    Next time you see a movie go in with your mind open and expecting only to be entertained – and you will be, as Vic himself said he found himself enjoying the movie more the second time he watched it becuse he knew exactlly what to expect from it and wasn’t putting any pressure on the movie to do more!

    Sorry for the long post, i just had to vent out, i’d just like to see more positive opionions please.

  4. Scott,

    I don’t know which site you’ve been watching, but I’m guessing if asked, Vic would say it’s been a pretty good year for movie fans so far, going on his reviews (which have been mostly positive), and 4 out of 5 for any movie is pretty damn good.

    Why not wait for the movie to come out where you are, see it, and then compare notes with the rest of us? You’ll be a more informed movie-goer for doing it and you’ll have a solid foundation from which to discuss your thoughts.

  5. Vic,

    Yeah, I follow Pixar movies the way you followed “Iron Man” :) As I recall, your only criticism of Iron Man was that the pre-release material didn’t leave very much to the imagination by the time you’re in the theater.

    Once you’ve had those scenes from trailers and other assorted material etched in your mind, they lose their impact on the screen.

  6. Yep, that’s one of the things that make it difficult to run this site. There are things that I don’t post up as far as video clips and such because I don’t want to see them myself because it detracts from the movie experience.


  7. Vic,

    At least you’re doing a better job than AICN when it comes to restraint. I read an early Dark Knight review over there a few days ago that ended up revealing a very specific development in the film that I’m trying hard to forget (stopped reading the review at that point).

  8. Thanks Jersey.

    Liked the first article and another piece falls into place but didn’t like the second as that site was just a lot of conservative rhetoric to me…propaganda of the worse kind..

    Whatever happened to the golden rule live and let live…

  9. So when A conservative gives his view point it’s rhetoric, but if it’s from the opposing side it’s an interesting and unbiased article?

  10. Daniel,

    It certainly is not…To answer your question; as soon as someone gives their opinion(s) on any issue or topic it will be biased.Such is the nature of opinions.No one can ever be truly neutral on any issue regardless of how unbiased or practical they think their opinion is. While I am not a conservative I am also not a liberal either. I have opinions that would be considered both liberal and conservative as my belief system and how I was raised have largely influenced what I believe and what I think is propaganda… NOt everything on the site was propagenda but the things I did read were just that IMO.

  11. Wall-e is absolutely reminiscent of E.T. He possess all the endearing qualities of E.T. which is synonymous with classic 80’s children’s sci-fi movies like “Flight of the Navigator.” I was surprised at the great absence of dialog through most of the movie. This allowed the audience to focus more on the computer generated artistry and had a powerful emotive effect with all the thematic subtleties. It was refreshingly different work from Pixar…which was very much welcomed and appreciated.

  12. Having read the above comments and reviews on other sites, before Wall-E was released here in the UK I was aware that the not only was the film capable of releasing an emotion in the viewer over what is fundamentally a love story between two robots but also had released a lot of emotive opinions from a number of people who had watched the films as well as those had decided to have preconceived ideas without even seeing it… The opinions varied from the excited positive to the downright aggressive negative with little in between.

    For the Brits out there and the initiated that have had the experience, the comments and reviews have been nothing short of Marmite like – You either love it or you hate it…

    I chose to watch it with both a “Pixar fan” biased view and an open mind and was left stunned by the efforts of Pixar with a film that in my humble opinion is nothing short of genius. From the inquisitive opening sequence where we see Wall-E busy working on his daily task (while being side-tracked with new things to discover), through his efforts to get close to EVE followed by his showing her all his “things”, all the way up to his attempts to “wake” her up. It is fair to say that this is the most spell binding portion of the film, with the more natural feel and flow to the story. What follows once we discover the humans and the other robots may not feel quite the same, but it is still lights years ahead of the competition.

    I saw Kungfu Panda last night and while it was certainly better than most of Dreamworks recent dross, it still didn’t come close to the magic of cinema that Wall-E evoked in me both the first and the second time I watched it… If I was reviewing Wall-E I would have no hesitation to give it 5 out of 5 and put it up there with my personal Pixar favourites Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc.

    One last comment – the short animation Presto is comic brilliance and is reminiscent of the classic era of Tex Avery cartoons…

    Anyone feeling another Pixar Oscar on the cards?

  13. “Anyone feeling another Pixar Oscar on
    the cards?”

    Well there’s not much in the way of competition for best animated film, so, yes.


  14. loved wall-e; wasn’t preachy, just smart and accurate. I was 270lbs, 3 years ago, currently 155. if you asked me if I was enjoying life then I’d have said ‘i guess’ with little enthusiasm.

    I’m interpreting this ‘enjoying life’ stance as a lazy way of saying: “don’t tell me what to do.” being healthy is happiness, I feel like a different person, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

    looking forward to owning Wall-e
    thanks vic

  15. Not everyone judges their happiness based on if they are fat or not. Personally I was in really good shape got in a terrible accident and gained 70 pounds because I was unable to exercise for an entire year. Once I was able to walk again and get exercise I wasn’t really in the mood I was enjoying my self just fine. The only thing that made me unhappy in life with my weight was the judgment of superficial people. Now that I have recently dropped 40 pounds and am getting back to my previous shape I am no happier than I was before. I get to spend less time doing things I enjoy so I can work out and I eat less of the food I like so I can drop down to my previous weight. Suddenly superficial judgment doesn’t seem so bad.

  16. I thought The Incredibles was great because it focused on the whole family bond thing. But I don’t think I will be seeing anymore Pixar films in theaters anymore. The more they try to preach their political ideas on children films, the more I want to just stop watching their films completely, but they are definitely entertaining. Well, except Happy Feet, that was just stupid… That WAS Pixar wasn’t it?

    I do want to watch this, but I guess I’ll wait until someone else rents it or if someone I know owns it I will borrow it from them, but I don’t think I will be giving any of my money to them anymore. That’s just me.

    Thanks for the excellent review.

  17. Pixar did not make Happy Feet, which I have never seen.


  18. Oh oops, so I guess it isn’t a “trend” with Pixar then. Happy Feet was OK in the beginning. It was funny, but the whole premise of singing penguins is as stupid as it sounds, and him tap dancing around wasn’t too charming in my opinion to begin with. What I didn’t get was how his singing was horribly worse than his normal talking voice. It’s like when he wants to sing all of a sudden his vocal chords get all messed up or something… Didn’t make much sense. But anyway, it was still pretty funny anyhow.

    But at around the middle, they start hinting at a “humans are evil” type message, then they attack zoos, then in the end, it get’s into an all-out preach fest, even dragging the UN into the picture…

    It was stupid, don’t watch it.

    I guess it isn’t a Pixar trend, but it appears they have jumped on the bandwagon…

    Oh well, I’m sure someone I know has a copy of it so I can see it.

  19. Good review.

    I just watched this (on a not-so-great quality bootleg DVD).

    The human actors took me out of the movie, too. I don’t get why they didn’t just animate humans instead. Strange decision.

    I also felt a lack of story and connection with the characters, and the ending was a bit unbelievable (all those fatties fixing up a ruined Earth?).

    I enjoyed the Toy Story films much more, probably more than anything Pixar has done since.

  20. Hallo,
    Ich liebe Wall.e und ihr?
    Wall.e ist süß.

  21. WALL-E *was* Pixar’s best work, by far. That is obvious to anyone who will open their mind. :)

  22. @Matt

    Maybe best technically, but I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. Story-wise it was not their best.


  23. Wall-e’s Personality seems to be picked from the Theory where robots eventually evolve through time and learn how to oblige by there own rules (i.e. iRobot)

    The Movie Shows a minor Possibility with its M-O model robot, where his Duties are made to decontaminate but also follow a Lined course to its duties. Eventually a glitch (or maybe Order of Operations) forces him to remove himself from the LINE to Decontaminate the Area, which may be considered a High Priority.

    Though not widely explained, it leaves alot of room to speculate with (possibly intention) Easter Eggs.

    BTW wasn’t That BURN-E short pretty cool too? Nice to see because for some odd reason, I wondered what happened to him as he got locked out.

    Anyways, Great Movie. Many may disagree but some people pick up all the pieces better then others and this film was not ‘Action packed’ or ‘Full of Comedy’ like other CGI movies but suprisingly caught my attention without much dialogue.

  24. Anyone who thinks WALL-E is preachy deserves to be preached to.

  25. @Matt

    Uh, yeah… whatever, dude.