American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Pixar’s “WALL-E” succeeds at being three things at once: an enthralling animated film, a visual wonderment and a decent science-fiction story. After “Kung Fu Panda,” I thought I had just about exhausted my emergency supply of childlike credulity, but here is a film, like “Finding Nemo,” that you can enjoy even if you’ve grown up. That it works largely without spoken dialogue is all the more astonishing; it can easily cross language barriers, which is all the better, considering that it tells a planetary story.
It is 700 years in the future. A city of skyscrapers rises up from the land. A closer view reveals that the skyscrapers are all constructed out of garbage, neatly compacted into squares or bales and piled on top of one another. In all the land, only one creature stirs. This is WALL-E, the last of the functioning solar-powered robots. He — the story leaves no doubt about gender — scoops up trash, shovels it into his belly, compresses it into a square and climbs on his tractor treads and heads up a winding road to the top of his latest skyscraper, to place it neatly on the pile.
It is lonely being WALL-E. But does WALL-E even know that? He comes home at night to a big storage area, where he has gathered a few treasures from his scavengings of the garbage and festooned them with Christmas lights. He wheels into his rest position, takes off his treads from his tired wheels and goes into sleep mode. Tomorrow is another day: One of thousands since the last humans left the Earth and settled into orbit aboard gigantic spaceships that resemble spas for the fat and lazy.
One day WALL-E’s age-old routine is shattered. Something new appears in his world, which otherwise has consisted only of old things left behind. This is, to our eye, a sleek spaceship. To WALL-E’s eyes, who knows? What with one thing and another, WALL-E is scooped up by the ship and returned to the orbiting spaceship Axiom, along with his most recent precious discovery: a tiny, perfect green plant, which he found growing in the rubble and transplanted to an old shoe.