Monday, June 30, 2008

"Wall-E" Shows Us the Future, and It's Pretty Freakin' Depressing

I, like seemingly everyone else and their brothers, saw Wall-E this past weekend (shout-out to EA for the invite!). Before anyone flips out because of my negative-sounding post title, please rest assured that I did enjoy this movie. I am not surprised that it was #1 at the box office, or that I've read nothing but glowing reviews of it.

As you know, though, sometimes I have a different take than the other critics out there, so I feel like I have to point out a few things I could've done without in this latest Pixar flick. But first, a quick nonspoilery recap for those of you who have been living under a rock and do not know the movie's premise (I say this only because I started seeing promos for the film over a year ago, and the marketing for it seems omnipresent--look! A bus just went by my condo with a Wall-E poster splashed on its side...).

is about a robot named, uh, Wall-E, who appears to be the only object still moving around on Earth (well, except for roaches, but we all know they can never be destroyed!). One day another robot arrives (courtesy of a huge spaceship that drops her off) and starts checking out what's going on around the planet. It's love at first sight for Wall-E, who then follows Eve (the female robot) back to where she came from when her spaceship returns to collect her.

OK... so that is what I thought the movie was going to be about based on the trailers I had seen. Judge for yourself:

And at a very high level, that's still the overall plot. But there is a much darker theme running throughout the film regarding what exactly went wrong on Earth, and why it is that no humans have been back in over 700 years. Though you cannot claim I'm ruining anything when I say that Wall-E of course still has a "happy" ending (Pixar IS owned by Disney, Master of Happy Endings, remember), I actually didn't think the ending was that joyous. I was left with a feeling of hopelessness... and I dare say I was a little depressed. If you've seen the movie and understand what I'm talking about, definitely leave me a comment... I have put a comment that has spoilers in it after this post already so that those who have seen the movie understand my beef a bit better.

I also thought the movie was a tad too long. It was 97 minutes, which doesn't seem like it should feel too long, but there were several "false endings" that got old. I think they could've easily cut out 15 minutes. The little girl sitting behind me was yelling, "I want to LEEEAAAAVE!" at about the same time I thought the movie could've wrapped up... so I rest my case.

Now that my complaining is out of the way, let me tell you why I still liked the movie overall and would definitely recommend that you see it:

1) The character of Wall-E is awesome and is an instant classic. I sincerely hope they are already working on a Wall-E ride at Disney World, because he's going to be loved by the kiddies for a long time. Most of my favorite scenes were when Wall-E was by himself, doing goofy things.

2) While I wasn't as enamored with the girl robot, Eve, I liked some of the other "bit player" robots on the spaceship... especially the obsessive compulsive M-O, who wanted to keep everything clean.

3) Though the foreboding tone I talked about above was a little disconcerting, the truth is, it is necessary. I am glad to see that this movie didn't shy away from making a statement on how humans treat both their bodies and their environment, and what the future could be like if our need for more, more, MORE! doesn't subside soon. There aren't too many other children's movies I can think of that take this route, so kudos to the writers for having the guts to "go there."

4) I really liked how Wall-E made the "Mac boot-up" sound whenever he recharged. But hey, that's just me being a nerd.

5) The Pixar short film that was shown before the movie (at least in my theater) was great.

6) Peter Gabriel sings over the closing credits, and I love me some Peter Gabriel.

I am hard-pressed to think of someone I know who wouldn't like this movie. I wish it had been slightly shorter and had a more definitively hopeful ending, but all in all, I give Wall-E a thumbs up. It has also made me want my own personal robot really badly (this is a lifelong dream of mine... one day, I WILL have a robot, dammit!).

If you saw it, let me know what you think!

- e


Erika (aka "e") said...

Spoilers ahead...

OK, so for those of you who saw the movie and/or don't care if you're spoiled, I just wanted to add that I was surprised that they didn't have all the Blob Humans working out and getting healthier BEFORE they returned to Earth. I mean, the Captain was still talking about growing "pizza plants," so I was just left with the feeling that the human race was going to die out because they were all too out-of-shape to start over. I thought when they had that one couple start swimming and realizing that they could do other things on the spacecraft that they would inspire the rest of the group to start "living life" and getting in shape in order to come back and take over their home planet again. But alas, nothing like that happened.

The scariest thing to me, however, is that I think there are a lot of people walking around right now that already look and act just like the people on the spaceship (granted, it IS Taste of Chicago time here in my city, so perhaps I'm biased)... so I don't think we're necessarily 700 years away from that point if something doesn't change soon.

For those of you who have seen it, did you feel the same way about the ending? The friend I saw it with also thought that it didn't seem too hopeful for the humans...

- e

Mel said...

I don't know. I feel that our world needs a wake-up call, and maybe it should start with the kids. I plan to use the film as a staring point for conversation with mine.

I loved the Buy 'n Large executive's speech stating that the plan was to "stay the course". He said something to the effect that "what they're doing now isn't working, but we're going to keep at it." I took that as a direct criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. I'm curious to know if that was an obvious reference, or if I 'read' too much into it.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of this film, but now I want to see it. Wonder when it's out in England?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious, did you happen to stay and watch as the credits rolled? Where it basically showed civilization rebuilding itself through art (even evolving from cave paintings to impressionism, etc.) I thought that served to show the optimism- that the human race started over... they got skinnier and the world got more beautiful.

I can see what you mean, but those credits left me with a good feeling. I really loved the movie, and I agree that it was good for the writers not to shy away from making a statement.

Melanie- I think you're reading a little bit to much into that personally. I do think it was a statement about what can happen to society if we don't change the way we live our lives. But, I don't think it was meant as a jab to the president. Personal opinion.

josephine siu said...

I just watched it today because I spent Saturday watching Wanted (: BUT! I totally loved it. It was soo cute from the beginning to the end. I understand your scruples with the story, but I agree with Lindsey--the credits brought me a hope and optimism, and they also showed that they lost the weight, and restored Earth to its former glory.

However, my boyfriend pointed out that the Blob humans that got off the ship sort of looked like babies, like the way they walked. It was like they had to start all over.

I love reading your blog, and I like what you had to say about Wall-E (:

Erika (aka "e") said...

Melanie - I think that is good that you can use Wall-E to talk to your kiddies about more serious issues! I didn't really associate the BnL CEO's comments with anything specific (though "stay the course" is more associated with Bush Sr than W, from the infamous Dana Carvey impressions back in the day on Sat Night Live... he was so good!)... I think it could probably be applied to a lot of silly things humans do. Even those that continue to try "miracle diets" over and over instead of realizing the only way to get healthy is to eat less and exercise more! I can think of a lot of other examples, too. That being said, writers are known to often sneak their own personal opinions into things, so you may be on to something.

Kelly - It looks like it's coming out next weekend, July 13, in the UK. Enjoy!

Lindsey - Yeah, I did stay through the credits, but no one else in my theater did, so I just felt like they should've had some of that stuff in the actual movie, or re-jiggered the ending a bit so that it provided more hope. I do think it was meant to be a wake-up call, but then I also thought that people are more likely to change their behavior if they think something will come of it, so I felt like having the "epilogue" in the credits wasn't enough.

Joey - OK, well I'm glad at least a few others got a more positive feeling from the credits! : ) I think that was a good observation your boyfriend had about the humans looking like babies when they first landed.

Regarding "Wanted"... I had planned to see that because I love AJ and JM, but then I read it was actually way more violent and gory than the previews let on, and I can't stomach much of that stuff. Did you find that to be the case?

- e

Anonymous said...

so i was the *only* person in the theater laughing (both times!) when wall-e made his apple reboot sound... i was cracking up... alone... guess everyone was a p.c. user ;)

Caity said...

I read your LOST recaps at DarkUFO, and I've been checking out your blog since the season ended. I just saw Wall-E on the 4th, and, while I enjoyed it, I almost felt like it was not very kid-friendly -- at least not like the usual Pixar movies. Am I the only person that was surprised at the lack of speech in the movie? When I made that comment to my husband, he said, "What did you expect? Robots don't talk." What?? Toys, monsters, and cars might not talk, either, but Pixar gave them voices. I think the kids in the theater were getting bored by the lack of dialogue in the first half of the movie, despite the cute sound effects and expressions that Wall-E had. I enjoyed the movie, but I definitely don't think it's Pixar's best.

Anonymous said...

What I wondered when I saw Wall-E is, how did the human race survive for 700 years on the spaceship? Each person was on their little floating armchair, all separate and as lazy as can be. The only interaction seemed to be virtual, so how did they make babies? Plus, where did the food come from? And what was the food, since they weren't growing anything?