Wall-E

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R U Ri U R U U Ri

Um.

I am so sorry.

I think there’s something wrong with me.

When a movie has 98% Fresh on RottenTomatoes, and it doesn’t quite do it for me, I think the problem is obvious, and it starts with T.

So if I tell you I preferred Kung Fu Panda to Wall-E — kind of a lot — I know that I am coming from a place of madness. MADNESS. But while I was watching Kung Fu Panda — like, by the second act — I thought, “I’m gonna have to see this again.” Wall-E — not so much.

SPOILERS FOLLOW.

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OK but all the robot stuff was ossome

SERIOUSLY. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

I feel like a dystopic future movie needs to have a little more science or a little more whimsy. This one’s Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom just didn’t address the big questions for me — can you just ‘take up’ farming in a polluted city? Hell, is there oxygen, considering there are no plants? How many will die when the first dust storm overtakes them? Where are the other ships? Did everyone get to escape Earth, or just the ones who could afford the intergalactic cruise line? Why does Otto take one order against its will but no others?

Consumption propels the society (blue is the new red) but no one seems to have a job. There are children but people appear too physically weak to reproduce. There’s no hierarchy, no competing objectives — not even among the robots herding them. The film thematically centers on “do what is right, not what you’re told.” Yet the passengers group-think their obedience to the captain as readily as they do to advertising and robots.

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Good luck finding stills of the Wall-E people. Here’s Jeff Garlin instead.

The trailers for Wall-E made me think he would be leaving Earth to join a ship of robots. I think I would have dug that better — robots who have adopted the habits of their long-extinct human originators. Then much of this satire could have proceeded unhindered by an actual need for plausible, reversible human behavior. A unifying feature of dystopic future stories is that the society at large is not redeemed at the end — usually the heroes find their own redemption (or demise) as the group does business as usual, or… you know… they all die. ‘All die’ is a bit of a fixture. ‘Cause of all the dystopia, doncha know.

I could dig a few people electing to go back with the ‘bots. But I can’t really buy so many people overturning 700 years of complacency because the captain walked across a room.

Story Hero(es) Everyone else
Blade Runner escape business as usual
On the Beach die dies
Road Warrior esape business as usual
I Am Legend die dies
Brazil die business as usual
The Stand escape dies
Idiocracy didn’t see it but I meant to

The thing with the plant didn’t make sense to me, either. “If we find just one plant on the entire planet, we can go home.” HUH? REALLY? So in order to turn the ship around, you put the plant in this one thingy, and that’s the only way to do it, by the way.” HUH? REALLY?

So. The human plot didn’t fly for me. The robot plot did a lot better, but still:

  • I wish Wall-E hadn’t held Eve’s hand while she was out of commission. I’ll spare you a rape allegory, but the hand-holding is the big consummation of their relationship, and it should have been left ’til the end. As it is, he sorta force-holds it, while looking at a sunset. It is unclear how he feels about this compromise. So when Eve takes his hand at the end, it’s sort of lacking, like, “Hey, babe — hate to break it to ya, but I already did this with you while you were asleep. OOPS.”
  • I wasn’t moved when Wall-E loses his Wall-E-ness. Contrast this with the fact that Johnny 5’s brush with death in Short Circuit 2 makes me cry every time. I feel like Pixar pulled a Disney here — shying away from the frightening emotional core. Wall-E gets incapacitated by a motherboard-frying, then pulls it together enough to start running around again (or did he get fixed and I miss it? I remember a fade to black in the junkyard). He blocks a lowering platform, but we see this in only wide shots — no indication of what Wall-E is going through. Is he struggling heroically? Is he allowing himself to be killed for the greater good? We speed through Wall-E’s loss of humanity to the resolution — there is no montage of Eve toting him around as he did her, which could have worked.

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    10 if short circuit 2 goto 30
    20 goto 40
    30 sob
    40 end

    Contrast this with the end of Monster’s Inc, where the story so completely convinces that I was fooled twice in a row — and still cry today.

    Hell — I misted over at the halfway mark of Kung Fu Panda.

  • Wall-E disappears for a while. That’s weird. It might have been better if HE was the source of historical information for the captain — if HIS unique perspective of humanity was what convinced the crew to go back. That could have worked. Show his recorded montage of human awesomeness. Convince the captain, convince the passengers. Make the passengers more active uprisers. Dude. I am a genius.

Time for nitpicks!

  • Noise in space. WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS. I know, I’m being unfair — everybody does it. The sound mixer would kick the director’s butt.
  • The ship tilts, and everyone slides, a la Titanic. That shouldn’t work, right? No matter how gravity is generated on the ship, right?

But the closing credits were totally bangin’. J’approve 100%. Kate Bush does Narnia; Peter Gabriel does Wall-E. Everybody happy.

Tory

Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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4 Responses

  1. FormerUni says:

    The first time I saw a trailer for WAll-E, I thought, “Isn’t that Short Circuit?” I mean, he looks EXACTLY like Johnny 5.

    Thanks for letting me know where NOT to spend my few pennies.

  2. Tory says:

    Part of my problem may be how protective I feel about fat people. I am the Lorax of fat people! If the Lorax had some tree experience, and still looked like a tree in some photos.

  3. Tory says:

    I agree. If it had been the robot show — or the Wall-E and M-O show — I would have peed my pants.

    I am overthinking it. It is trew.

    Verily there is some B in M-O — M-O gets pissed when Wall-E makes his job harder, but seems to get a strange thrill out of being able to do his job under impossible circumstances. Eleven pallets of truck in three hours? SURE WHY THE FRICK NOT?!

  4. B says:

    Wall.e is a love story in which chic flic rules apply – not real life scenario. All the other crap was just fillers, Wall.e was not sacrificing himself for the greater good – he was doing what he thought he had to do to get the girl. If you apply the chic flic rules I think you might find it less disappointing. I found it more adorable since I scrutinize it less once I realized the real deal.

    There are only so many devices in a chic flic an you can’t be tooooooo critical if you want to be a fan – I generally am not a fan nor do I want to be.

    I think the best parts were when Wall.e was left to his own devices!!!!

    I also found it interesting that when he was mucking up the way of life on the ship no one got mad at him – they were all just confused. I think I would have been highly irritated to have such interruptions to my “life” or lack thereof. No one got mead just that craphead AutoPilot. What’s that about?

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