Floating rather than walking out of the cinema, suffused with a warm happy feeling, unhesitatingly my reply was, "Yes."
Then I spent a few days wondering if it really was. Did it quite match the colourful vibrancy of 'Cars'? Or the unalloyed visual (and damn near olfactory) perfection of 'Ratatouille'. Wasn't it, in fact, a film of two halves, the first - set on a garbage-ridden future vision of Earth - a joyous, imaginative, dialogue-free study of one robot's day-to-day life, his yearning for companionship and the sudden arrival of EVE, a sleek, balletic female robot; the second - set aboard a huge starliner whose entire human inhabitants have devolved into grotesque obesity - a frenetic chase story substituting manic set-pieces for the erstwhile poignancy? Were a couple of nifty musical cues homaging '2001: A Space Odyssey' any match for the welter of in-jokes in 'The Incredibles'?
There was only one thing for it.
We went to see it again.
And, yes, now I'm sure: 'WALL-E' is, by a short head, Pixar's best yet.
Here, at random, are six reasons why:
1) Boiled down to its simplest narrative arc, 'WALL-E' is about a robot, left alone on a wasted planet for 700 years with just a VHS tape of 'Hello, Dolly' for company, who finally breaks away from his routine, braves the stars and involves himself in a quest hitherto beyond anything in his understanding or experience, simply because he wants to do no more than hold EVE's hand. It's perhaps the most chaste and wonderfully innocent love story in all of cinema.
2) It tells so much - and implies so much more - through visuals alone. It's pure cinema.
3) It introduces themes of corporationism, environmental irresponsibility, dependency on technology (like all the best sci-fi, it holds up a mirror to contemporary concerns) without seeming preachy, political or heavy-handed. It's a slap in the face to contemporary America that still manages to be supremely entertaining and utterly heartwarming.
4) WALL-E himself has to be the cutest animated hero of all time. God, that li'l robot is adorable! I also love the fact that he's not a hero. Things happen to him. Most of the time, he's confused or scared when events snowball. In other words, he acts like most people would act when caught up in something beyond their control.
5) EVE is a fun and fiesty heroine. Even though she looks like a cross between an egg and an iPod, she's still pretty swish. (I'm starting to doubt my own sanity having just typed that sentence.)
6) For every moment that makes you laugh - WALL-E pursued by a convoy of runaway shopping trolleys, the manic cleaning robot on the starship - there's one that brings a lump to the throat - WALL-E rocking himself to sleep, WALL-E trying to recreate a romantic idyll with EVE after she shuts down - and director Andrew Stanton holds the humorous and the heartfelt in perfect equilibrium.
There are essays to be written about 'WALL-E' by future film scholars, perhaps book-length studies. I've bashed out about 700 words and barely scratched the surface. But maybe all that needs to be written about 'WALL-E' can be said in ten words:
It's Pixar at the top of their game. See it.