The Sunbaked King




It was middle of the year last year when movie theaters started showing the trailer for WALL-E. I distinctly remember the first trailer they used, primarily because it didn’t mention WALL-E until the end of it. In the trailer, a voiceover was describing where Pixar‘s greatest film hits were first conceptualized: over lunch in a quaint little restaurant, among workmates who also happened to be friends.

One by one, the voiceover narrated how each film came to be. Monster’s, Inc. happened because the makers envisioned a world where monsters actually thrived on children’s nightmares; The Incredibles became the result of a consensus that a family with superhero abilities would be interesting to watch; and Finding Nemo got the green light as soon as Dory entered the conversation. All this thinking probably happened between handfuls of fries and spoonfuls of ice cream. And between the potato wedge and the salad, Pixar’s bright minds thought of a lonely robot…

Scene fades to black, WALL-E appears on the screen against a backdrop of stars and sky, and the robotic drone follows: “WALL-EEEEEEE…”

I loved each and every film that came out from that restaurant. The prospect of WALL-E being One of Those Films chilled me. In a good way. That intriguing drone, that cool title font, and the special trailer for it all added to the hype that was building inside me. When Metacritic gave the movie a 93, I was thrilled; they gave Ratatouille a 96, and that particular Pixar film was my favorite. Needless to say, it dismayed me to no end when cinemas here pushed the release to a later date.

I finally got to watch it yesterday. Thanks to Jel‘s amazing foresight, we got prime seats on WALL-E’s first day of showing. We bought ourselves the tickets, a bucket of popcorn, and a couple of drinks, and we were set. I went inside the cinema prepared to be blown away. 

And maybe that’s where the problem started. I expected a fantastic film, full of heart and yet full of fun, and on the basis of my spectacular expectations, WALL-E failed to deliver. Don’t get me wrong– Pixar outdid itself once again with the visuals. The landscape they created was nothing short of breathtaking, even if most of it was made of trash. And WALL-E himself was one of a kind. Pixar has a penchant of breathing life into the most inanimate things or most disgusting creatures to ever walk the Earth (or space), and WALL-E is no exception. Endearingly human in thought and mannerism, WALL-E is as adorable as any cute inquisitive human kid can get.

But in order to make a good set of gears into a great machine, careful thought must be placed into their relative position with each other. One part must complement the next. In this case, the bind that must hold the endearing characters together with the fantastic landscape they live in is a tight plot, a story that’s believable enough for you to be able to empathize with the actors and the plight they’re experiencing. After all, it’s man’s love for excess and utter disregard for the environment that we’re talking about here. With the current global issues surrounding us these days, the topic should be interesting enough.

Unfortunately, the story was poorly executed. Since the film’s fairly recent, I won’t divulge any details about the plot, but for the most part, it left me struggling to understand. For me, it felt like the makers focused too much on making the characters as heartwarming as possible, thinking that it would be enough to draw the audience in. It wasn’t. In fact, the lack of a coherent plot distracted me from enjoying the characters as much as I should have. I just wish they gave me more to work with.

It says something for the film when Jel and I walk out of the theater without giving it much discussion. We didn’t talk about WALL-E until today, almost 24 hours later.


Filed under: Cinema, The Couch Potato

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