Saturday, June 28, 2008

Eden Reborn: Wall-E - The Movie: A Review

Pixar's newest animated movie, WALL-E, opened today to nearly universally great reviews. "One for the ages," one reviewer exulted. "Charming, audacious, timely," raved another. "Grown ups will want to see it many times." "Ninety-three minutes of wonderful animation." "Puts the extra back into extraterrestrial" said one hard-working wordsmith.

Actually, it is very good. It's a post-apocalyptic tale of an Earth as wasteland, the scene of an ecological disaster from which humankind has fled, barren of all life forms save for a cockroach who shares the planet with one other semi-sentient creature, a battered robot named WALL-E (for Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-Class). The little robot toodles around dutifully, humming a tune from "Hello, Dolly," compacting and stacking the waste products of the departed race who escaped 700 years earlier. WALL-E and his insect pet live in his lonely guy pad, a dumpster lighted by mismatched strings of Christmas lights, and cluttered with his collection of funky human artifacts--a rubric cube, Zippo lighters, and spare parts cannibalized from other broken-down WALL-E's with which he keeps himself running. Into this haven one day WALL-E brings a green seedling which he discovers on his rounds, amazingly growing in the desolate landscape.

At this point a mysterious space probe lands and disgorges a sleek, egg-shaped bot named EVE (for Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) with which, after a quick robotic "cute meet," WALL-E becomes totally enamored. When he offers the new-found plant to EVE as a token of his devotion, her directive from her creators takes her immediately off into space to report this sign of life on Earth. The smitten WALL-E stows away and follows her to the giant space cruiser in which the expatriate humans have existed since Earth became uninhabitable.

EVE and WALL-E inspire a rogue robot revolution aboard ship, complete with humorous chase scenes, pursuit by an obsessive-compulsive cleaning robot, and the final triumph of the ship's captain over its evil autopilot. At last the hugely overfed and almost immobile humans realize that they can indeed return to their homeland, not just to "survive" but "to live." All's well as the reunited EVE and WALL-E and the revitalized remnant of humankind return to make the Earth bloom and to rebuild civilization on their home planet. Earth, it seems, is the right place for love.

Rated G, WALL-E does have something for everyone. WALL-E is an unlikely but undeniably appealing hero, and there is humor for all ages, from slapstick to irony to satire. Pixar has another winner which may be with us still, like WALL-E's beloved video cassette of "Hello, Dolly," for the next 700 years.

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  • Dude! Way to spoil the whole plot without warning!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:36 PM  

  • Hmmmm.

    Usually I go see these kinds of movies in the theater. But not in this case. The enviro-weenie preaching and the Bush bashing quotes frankly turns me off.

    If Pixar wants me back as a customer then more story, less preachy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:10 PM  

  • Pixar has done enough right-of-center stuff (e.g. "Incredibles" (when everybody's special, nobody is) and "Cars" (a NASCAR hagiography)) to have bought themselves some deference in my book. If the key message here has less to do with environmentalism and more to do with getting our flabby butts of the couch, they will have scored yet again. Regardless, I'm going to see the movie.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:42 PM  

  • I agree with the first anonymous - yeah, maybe these kinds of plots are predictable, but at least warn us that you're going to give it all away!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:10 PM  

  • Message from Wall-e:
    People stink. Corporations are evil. Our standard of living is destroying the world.

    Just what I want my kids to see and be influenced by.

    A movie created by a multinational corporation who employed multi-millionares who undoubtedly have huge houses and numerous expensive automobiles in order to make it.

    Thanks to your review, however, I know it's a well made movie, at least. Somehow, that doesn't make it better.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:35 PM  

  • Dude! Wall-E turned over a rock and a bunch of sourpusses crawled out!

    Where's your sense of humor, Dud, er, Dude?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:51 PM  

  • Saw Wall-E this morning with my kids and was completely stunned.

    I was wary about too much heavy-handed enviro-anticorporate stuff too. But the story isn't typical hollywood. The eco-catastrophe is never explained, it just sort of happened. The fat layout blobs of humanity are a result of both inertia and malaise. There's no judgement, no preaching.

    In the end, this is a movie where everyone wins.

    I think the core message of the movie is to get off your ass and do something. To live life.

    I can't argue with that.

    By Anonymous joe, at 10:11 PM  

  • This is awesome! I thought about seeing this movie and all I had to do was read this one review to know - nope, don't want to see it; in fact, would have walked out of it. Excellent - thanks!

    By Blogger Peg C., at 10:17 PM  

  • I just saw WALL-E last night after reading this review yesterday afternoon, and I was so moved by it that I feel compelled to comment.

    To those who would stay away because the plot summary suggests an anti-business pro-green agenda, you are making a mistake. The true themes of this movie are choosing reality over fantasy and choosing bravery over complacency. I'm an objectivist myself, so there's likely no one commenting here who bristles more at art portraying human progress as futile or evil, and I went to the theater (while still confident in Pixar's craft) a little trepidatious about such an ideology being pushed. But I left the theater utterly inspired by WALL-E's celebration of love and heroism.

    Life is too short; please, do yourself a favor and don't let fear lead you to miss art this fine.

    By Anonymous Johnathan, at 7:12 AM  

  • Thanks, Johnathan.

    I'd seen the trailer for this movie a couple of times while waiting for other children's movies, and I had a bit of reluctance about it just because I hate to see the stuff of life totally papered over with cutesy critters.

    Wall-e is undeniably a cute critter, but I was pleased that the movie dealt with real issues with just the right touch. I hate kid movies that are full of "pratfall plots," but this one has a strong but not overbearing theme and appropriate metaphors that even kids will get on some level.

    I'm a bit taken aback by the overly politicized reaction in these first few comments! I wish these folks could see the movie with an open mind and open heart. Being an optimist, I can only hope that their children will encourage them to do so at some point.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:40 AM  

  • To all you nay-sayers who have commented earlier--

    The central idea of this film is that humankind (with their technology, represented by the soulful Wall-e) will come through whatever the future brings. I don't see this as a bad theme for children to see: I see it as a positive affirmation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:47 AM  

  • Wall-E is essentially an innocent love story thats set in a dystopian future. If this film drives any ideas forcefully its about the redeeming and motivating power of love, as well as the necessity of purpose to make life worth living.

    I wouldn't label this movie propaganda that children should avoid; if anything the messages in this movie are pretty traditional - love is worth crossing the universe for, moderation in all things is a good idea, life without purpose is just an empty existence, and given the chance any authority in charge wouldn't mind turning everyone into over-sized babies. I would definitely recommend seeing it.

    By Blogger MZ, at 12:09 PM  

  • I agree with those pointing out that those people refusing to see the movie because of its "enviromental preaching" are being horribly close-minded and pathetic. The message isn't that people are inherently evil and will destroy the earth, it's that greedy, complacent, unthinking people are going to do that. This masterpiece of a film is so much more sophisticated than some people realize.

    By Anonymous Nate, at 12:49 PM  

  • I, too, was sickened by the blatant political agenda of the movie creators.

    First of all, the heteronormative assumptions of the movie is sickening; not ONE LGB relationship is depicted, even 700 years into the future when you'd think we'd outgrow this irrational taboo. Even the *robots* in a relationship are depicted as male and female.

    Second, why is the autopilot portrayed as evil? Yes, it was created by a corporation, but the corporation was concerned with the health of the planet, and with providing a fair, equitable social habitat for all citizens where ALL their needs were provided for. That social safety net was overthrown by the MALE pilot who wanted his own place in history.

    Third, I don't know how any child can watch this movie without being brainwashed into thinking that it's ok to pollute outer space. I want space to be around for our children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children's children to enjoy, thank you very much.

    My wingnut girlfriend complained about the glorification of plant life over technology. She walked out on the movie, probably so she could kick an immigrant baby or something.

    By Anonymous Stephen, at 7:46 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:12 AM  

  • Stephen: Funniest thing I've read all day. Way to cut to the heart of the debate. :-)

    By Blogger Joanna, at 2:56 PM  

  • Wall-E totally looks like the robot from "Short Circuit"... minus the cheesy 80's style

    By Anonymous patrick, at 11:04 AM  

  • WALL-E continues to rack up good reviews and millions of satisfied viewers. Looks like you folks who advocate one and only one point of view are greatly in the minority.

    Open hearts, open minds! Think about the movie's theme, leave the knee-jerk reactions home, and go see the movie!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:11 AM  

  • nice movie, good animation technology used.

    By Anonymous hanum, at 10:40 PM  

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