WALL-E: Pixar's Biggest Gamble

The animation wonder boys roll the dice on a demanding (and delightful) sci-fi robot romance

Disney / Pixar

The last little droid on Earth is an avid collector of the treasures that humans left behind.

The dusty cityscape shows remnants of a civilization: an empty bank, a cratered warehouse mall, tattered billboards for colas and travel agencies, all bearing the logo of Buy-N-Large. TOO MUCH TRASH--EARTH COVERED reads an old headline, and we note that some of the skyscrapers are made of compacted trash cubes. The planet has become one huge junkyard, as if all humanity were a rock band that had made a shambles of a hotel room, then just strolled out. The only remaining sign of organic life on Earth is that unkillable little bugger, a cockroach.

Among this urban detritus, something else is...