DVD Review: ‘WALL-E’ is ripe for Oscar glory

WALL-E is the best animated movie of the year, and though it’s largely about robots, it’s also one of the most human.

You could argue that the film is derivative, but what isn’t? For me, it spins off the most from 1972’s Silent Running, in which Bruce Dern played an ecological spaceman safeguarding domes of forests in the heavens while Earth died below, with help from lovable little droids or robots. In WALL-E, Earth is dead, and only the little ‘bot of the title is left to tidy up, befriend a lively cockroach and wistfully watch Hello, Dolly! on video.

Wistfulness? In a robot? There’s your artistic license, but grant it, because in the wildly eventful tale which follows, robots are more human than the bloated, pampered residue of the human race which remains parked in space in a ginormous ship, passing the time in exile with numb self-indulgence while waited on by machine servants.

WALL-E has such eye-popping details that you must see it more than once, and DVD certainly is a better medium than theaters, since you can freeze the picture and study its elements.

The film goes against our conditioning; there’s very little dialogue for long stretches, and you may need to activate subtitles to understand some robot-speak. But at heart it’s a sweet story of plucky romance — yes, love among the ‘bots — while the world we’ve known teeters on the brink of extinction.

Thanks Disney, thanks Pixar and thanks director and co-writer Andrew Stanton. But your biggest thanks will come Feb. 22, 2009. That’s when WALL-E seems certain to win the Oscar as best animated feature. And like 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, it just might even be up for Best Picture, too.

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