Generally, I approach family films with a certain degree of caution. In my experience, while the species of the characters change, the stories of all these cleverly animated productions are pretty similar – and not very good. However, I'd heard good things about Wall-E. I'd heard that this time that it would be different. And it was.
The first indication came about five minutes before the trailers rolled, when a young couple wandered in. And, no, it was not a mistake. It's simply that while most films labelled U have an appeal that is limited to the under-10s, Wall-E's really is universal. It's a cliché, but there is something for everyone.
And it's not because the film-makers have taken the "here's a few one-liners to stop the adults falling into a coma" approach, but because they have realised there's no need to talk down to children. They can handle some darkness.
And, at first, this film certainly is dark. The opening shots of an abandoned Earth reduced to a burnt-out and bleak shell by human irresponsibility are genuinely dystopian, with echoes of Blade Runner and Children of Men.
This is where we meet Wall-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), the last of the robots whose job it is to clean up the mess, while the humans wait in space. The problem is that it's been 700 years and everyone's forgotten about Earth and the work still being done by the diligent, adorable and lonely Wall-E. That is, until Eve – a sleek, efficient (and dangerous) robot-probe sent to search for signs of life – appears one day and wins Wall-E's heart, before shooting off back into space (with Wall-E tagging along as a stowaway). And, so, the story goes on, with comedy, romance and adventure.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about the film is that its message isn't that humans are bad. The humans here are ignorant rather than villainous, and in the end they have their own heroic moments. Furthermore, by the far the best part of the film celebrates our culture. As Wall-E cleans up Earth, the little treasures he collects – including a Rubik's Cube, old tapes of Hello, Dolly and a lot of fairy lights – exude almost as much magic and charm as the eponymous robot himself.
In short, this is the sweetest and most innovative film I've seen in a long time. A lot has been made of the sparse dialogue between the two main characters, but the truth is that words just aren't needed. The cleverness of the images and the simplicity of the emotions mean that the odd "Wally" or "Eva" is more than enough.
>Melissa Curle, student, Essex