I watched the movie today, so I could talk about it knowing the whole thing. Warning: there ARE spoilers in here, if you’ve not seen it and still want to, don’t read this post.
The animation is absolutely astounding. It’s everything I’ve come to expect from Pixar. Honestly, I wish they would have done that awesome bit of animation on something much more worthy of their talents. In reality, it and how they work hard to get the viewer to identify with Wall*E, with basically no words spoken in the first 40 minutes or so, is the only thing that saves this movie in my opinion.
Yes, they spend the first 40 minutes with barely a word spoken. The words that were spoken were not from the main character. They came from advertisements and old videos. The movie invests a lot of time showing the humanity of the robot. They show him doing his job (compacting trash into cubes, then using the cubes as building blocks for buildings (because where is the trash going to go). It shows how Wall*E has a pet, how he’s resourceful when he needs new components (new treads he takes off a different, dead, Wall*E unit), how he’s a collector (his “home” is full of stuff he’s collected). It’s a lonely existence he has, and you can definitely tell it.
During this whole prelude, Pixar is trying to show us how our over consumerism is going to kill the planet. The problem with this section is that they are very invested in making this relevant. Honestly, if I’d not known from reading other reviews, I’d not have guessed it was 700 years in the future. The buildings that were still standing were in almost perfect condition. Yes, there was some decay for roads and bridges, but not 700 years worth. The paper and metal billboards were still in perfect shape (you could read the advertisements) and the electronically controlled billboards (either controlled by pressure sensor or motion detector) had perfect graphics, advertising the evil corporations advertising. Also, organics have not decayed. There’s still metal (which would have rusted in 700 years), paper, and other products laying around.
Seven hundred years from now, there just wouldn’t be that much human made products on top of the soil. What would be left would be buried under feet of soil (especially since there are two dust storms that come up during the first hour).
The other problem with this whole half of the movie is that there is no way there could be that much trash on the earth. In the opening of the movie, you see a city of hundreds of tall buildings from a distance. As the scene closes in, you see that at least half the buildings are Wall*E made, one cube of trash at a time, most of it metal. If there really had been that much mining of the earth for the metals, there wouldn’t be any metal left under the earth. I’m sure the weight of all that waste would have undermined the planet and there would have been massive sinkholes swallowing up humanity, instead of the ‘toxic pollution’ issue that they say caused the mass leaving of the planet.
Finally, after 700 years, Wall*E finds one plant. And the seed of the ‘conflict’ in the story (pun intended).
After we have been led so strongly into identifying with Wall*E, we see a new robot being put on the earth. The introduction of Wall*E and Eva is funny, heartrending and heartwarming all at the same time, especially after Wall*E shows Eva his plant. Evan takes the plant and goes dormant. Wall*E can’t understand what’s happened to Eva and tries to revive her any way he can. At one point, he and she is outside during a violent thunder storm, and Wall*E keeps her dry using umbrellas (while he stays wet).
Of course, when she went dormant, she activated her signal to the ship, which came to collect her. Wall*E manages to hang onto the outside of the robot ship, and hooks up with the ship that has people in it.
As has already been stated, all the people are fat. Extremely fat. We see scene after scene after scene, including a nursery which shows all fat infants. People do not interact with each other, they interact via vidscreens even when they are traveling two feet apart on their hover chairs. People don’t know how to interact on a one on one basis (which makes me wonder how the babies came to be).
This is where Pixar failed in the most failingest way any company can fail. There were so many fat jokes, I can’t even count them all. And every single place that Pixar went for the cheep laugh at fat people’s expense did nothing to add to or advance the story. They were going for the cheep laugh, and most likely in the theaters they got it.
And yes, they used almost every single fat stereotype to get the laughs. Fat equal lazy? Check. Fat equals stupid? Check. Fat equals unhealthy? No, they didn’t go there. But all others, yes.
They used ‘fat’ as shorthand for ‘overconsumerism’. In one scene (reminiscent of the garbage shoot scene from Star Wars — falling down the trash shoot and all) they show a couple much much bigger versions of Wall*E, compacting the trash that the consumers are still making on the ship, and shoving all the compacted cubes into space.
Their “science” behind why everybody is fat is about a 30 second blurb about microgravity that is very easy to miss. But it doesn’t explain why the people don’t bounce and/or float when they fall out of their hover chairs. And I had to watch the scene where all the fat people fall out of their chairs three times before I realized it was the ‘evil/misguided robot’ who did something to make the ship list, and drop all the people off the chairs and on the floor, where they slid along until they either were stopped by the bulwark or ran up against other people who were stopped by the bulwark. (We won’t even go into how, in an artificially generated gravity, that whole scene would not have happened.)
Of course, there were heroic acts by a ton of robots and some of the humans as well. But the end does not justify the means. I came away from the movie thinking the subliminal message was still “See, fatty? If you just try, you CAN do anything! That means lose weight too!” even though they never show anybody getting thinner.
In the end, the evil robot was disarmed, the plant was saved, which of course, saved earth, human and robot kind. And in the end, Wall*E got the girl.
The sad part of this whole thing is that this was a technically wonderful movie. Every point they wanted to make about the dangers of overconsumerism could have been said in a way that would not have contributed to the fat hate and discrimination that’s rampant in the world.
I give this movie a D-, and that only because of how good the animation was, and how well they succeeded in causing identification with a robot.
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