Only the geniuses at Pixar Animation Studios could create an adorably clunky, inarticulate robot janitor capable of eliciting warm fuzzies and merry giggles in equal measure.
"Wall-E,” the latest film from Oscar-winning "Finding Nemo” director Andrew Stanton, may be animated, but it's the best science-fiction movie of the past several years. The movie is set 700 years in the future, on a bleak but oddly evocative Earth so covered with trash that humans have been forced to leave. Centuries ago, the Buy n Large Corp. promised to clean up the planet while people took a pleasure cruise on the luxury space liner Axiom (voice of Sigourney Weaver). The corporation created the Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class, or Wall-E, robots for the task, but only one worked. While the humans continue their centuries-long space cruise, a single Wall-E (voice of Ben Burtt) continues to scoop up and compact the result of generations of rampant consumerism. When he isn't crushing trash, Wall-E spends his time sifting treasures out of the rubble, from a spork to a ring box (the diamond ring goes back in the junkyard) to a small plant. He also befriends a cockroach and dreams of finding love, like the characters in his favorite movie, "Hello Dolly!” His lonely existence is changed with the arrival of a sleek probe called Eve (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). The humans living on the luxury space liner Axiom have dispatched Eve to search for signs that Earth can be inhabited again. Wall-E is enchanted with Eve, but she initially ignores him. They eventually form a bond, though Eve still refuses to reveal the purpose of her classified mission. To her surprise, Eve discovers that Wall-E has found the one sign that people might be able to return to Earth.
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G 1:43 4 stars Starring: Fred Willard and the voices of Ben Burtt, Jeff Garlin, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger and Kathy Najimy.