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Originally published January 29 2009

Movie Review: Wall-E from Pixar is the Best Animated Film of 2008

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) Released in the Summer of 2008, the animated feature film "Wall-E" from Pixar is flat out one of the best animated feature films you'll ever see. It easily takes the title of best animated film of 2008, and perhaps of all time. If you haven't seen Wall-E yet, you owe it to yourself to pick up this movie and see what you've been missing.

The film is set in the far future when Earth's climate has been destroyed by humans, and the surviving drifters live on a distant space station, awaiting the return of life on planet Earth. More than 700 years have gone by, and during that time, humans have become a race of obese, lazy, stupid and weak-willed cowards who transport themselves on hovering lounge chairs, slurping up the latest artificially-colored sugar beverages and allowing their minds to be brainwashed by the mass media blasted through a barrage of display screens throughout the space station.

Does that description surprise you? Wall-E is advertised as a film for children, and in a way it certainly is, but this film has a far deeper and more intelligent message, too: Its subtext contains a warning about the future of human civilization and what might happen if we don't protect our planet and our health.

The film's scenes depicting the population of "human sloths" in their hovering lounge chairs is nothing short of astounding. That scene alone is worth buying the DVD and watching the whole film.

Pay attention to this film: The subtext is powerful and far more enlightened than you might expect from an animated feature. Most NaturalNews readers will find it fascinating that such a film actually got made and distributed by Disney, a company that has been traditionally staffed by intellectually challenged executives who probably didn't even catch any of the underlying themes in the film.

Disney executives are so short-sighted that they actually fired the first guy who approached them about producing CG (Computer Graphics) animated films (Lasseter, I believe), thinking that computer animation would put traditional 2D cell animators out of work. This is sort of like banning the printing press because all the scribes still need their jobs...

Of course, now Lasseter IS a Disney executive, since Disney bought Pixar a couple years back, but he's still got the perspective of an outsider, and Disney is lucky to have the guy.

Respecting nature

Getting back to Wall-E, there's a lot more to this film that will interest you, and I haven't even mentioned the primary character yet: It's a garbage collecting robot that has been on auto-pilot for 700 years, gathering and compacting small cubes of garbage left behind by the deserting humans.

His name, of course, is Wall-E, and he's gifted with advanced artificial intelligence that allows him to experience the full range of human emotions.

That's a hugely important reason the film works, by the way, and nobody understands this better than Pixar. For mechanical characters to resonate with human audiences, they have to be humanized with human-like gestures, voice intonation, emotions and other subtle elements of expression. Most animated studios completely miss this point, and they put out films with stiff, jerky animated robots, or cars, or even human-like characters that have no humanity in them! But Pixar's characters just radiate human qualities which are expertly captured by their animators, sound effects creators and voice talent actors.

With Wall-E, this was a particularly difficult challenge because the Wall-E character doesn't talk! So the whole layer of vocal communication, with all its intonations and non-conscious communication, was unavailable to the screenwriters, and Pixar's animators had to really work this character with an almost surgical attention to physical detail that can only be called a virtuoso performance. Anyone who can turn a mechanical box-shaped robot with two eye scopes into a lovable, believable, human-like character without using dialog is a true master of the art, and Pixar pulled it off expertly.

Of course, the sound effects team deserves a lot of credit too, because although Wall-E doesn't talk, he does make a lot of sounds, and those sounds were similarly crafted with remarkable expertise and care, producing vocalizations that immediately resonate with the human soul, in any language.

Flatly stated, Pixar's bringing to life of the Wall-E character is the single greatest achievement in film animation history, in my opinion.

And I haven't even gotten to the story yet! It's just jaw-droppingly beautiful, too. The humans living in the space station send out automated probes to find signs of life on Earth (seed sprouts, basically), and the film begins when one of those probes excitedly discovers a living sprout and whisks it back to the space station as proof that the planet is recovering from the human-caused destruction and may soon be safe for human re-population.

Even the probe, called "Eve," is brilliantly humanized as a feisty female character, and there's a love interest between Wall-E and Eve that carries the story forward while keeping viewers glued to the on-screen events. There's not a boring moment in the whole film, which is a remarkable achievement in any medium.

See the trailer yourself at:

Every masterpiece starts with a great script

Animation, sound effects and voice talent are all extraordinary in this film, but the real underlying success elements of any film are writing and screenplay.

A lot of really bad films seem to get made these days by film executives sitting around a table smoking crack and thinking that a bad script can be overcome by pretty actors and extra advertising, but Pixar shovels no such bunk. At Pixar, the story is the foundation of everything else, and the story is moving, fast-paced, multi-layered and brilliant in every way.

As a prolific writer myself, I can see that the Pixar team made all sorts of cutting decisions to tighten up the script, remove extraneous material, weave in multiple layers of plot and make the film accessible to everyone from children to philosophically-inspired adults -- all at the same time!

On that point, it's simply amazing: This film works for kids (who of course don't have a clue about the future of human civilization or the sacred value of a seed) and adults alike. It speaks to environmentalists, philosophers, tech geeks (like me), sci-fi fans and even those primarily interested in relationships.

All that simultaneously makes Wall-E a "chick flick," a sci-fi adventure, a children's cartoon and an inspired message about the future of sustainable life on our planet.

Wall-E transcends the medium

If you told me a year ago that a film could weave all that into a singular masterpiece and actually pull it off, I would have thought you were crazy, but to my great astonishment, Wall-E achieves it with a degree of courage and grace that it puts every other animated film I've ever seen to shame.

In every medium, there are rare but remarkable moments in which the artists transcend their art and produce something so inspiring and touching that it defines its own new category of achievement. To say that Wall-E is the best animated movie of 2008 is to mistakenly believe it can even be compared to the others. In my opinion, Wall-E stands on its own as an example of art that transcends the medium of film and speaks directly to the human soul.

If you read NaturalNews much, you know I don't gush about many things. Most of what I say is critical about companies, individuals or institutions, but Pixar's Wall-E has achieved what might be arguably called the greatest film ever made. (I'll take Wall-E over Citizen Kane any day...)

Most critics have said good things about the film, but for those few who slammed it, I have to truly wonder if they were even paying attention. There's a lot in this film that a casual viewing would easily miss, and this is not a film to be sloppily devoured with popcorn and soda but rather to be relished like a platter of the most deeply nourishing and taste-teasing raw vegan cuisine you've ever experienced.

Wall-E is a masterpiece of not just CG animation, but of filmmaking itself. And I dare say that few people have achieved the level of human consciousness necessary to appreciate it in full.

Summary of the achievements of Wall-E

• Powerful message about the future of human civilization (and the fattening and dumbing-down of the population).

• Strong recognition of the sacred status of nature and the web of natural life that ultimately supports human life.

• A strong statement about free will and courageous individuals standing up against the brainwashed masses and institutional idiocy.

• Amazing technical achievement in character animation and sound creation.

• Solid screenplay with steady pacing and rewarding story lines.

• Multi-layered finesse in the way the story works on so many levels with so many different audiences.

Bottom line: Health Ranger recommended! Perhaps the best movie you've ever seen in your life (if you pay close attention, anyway).

Disclaimer: I have no financial ties with Pixar or Disney (oh, but I wish!), and in fact I am totally unimpressed with Disney, even though they are the parent company that ultimately distributed this film. The Pixar team that created this film is a rare pool of inspired talent that Disney is lucky to have on their corporate balance sheet.

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