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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Wall-E (review)

Soul of the Machine

Remember that Spike Jonze Ikea commercial from a few years ago, the one that made you feel sorry for the discarded desk lamp? Wall-E is like that, except where the Ikea ad was a parlor trick — a magnificent, ingenious parlor trick, but still a parlor trick — Wall-E is art. Hell, it’s philosophy — it’s practically religion.

I mean that. Pixar’s latest miracle is, on the surface, about a little robot, but it’s really about us, we humans, and how brilliant we can be, and how foolish we often are. It’s spiritual in the secular sense, in inadvertantly (or maybe intentionally — I don’t know) asking us to contemplate the great things we are capable of, and how we so frequently fail to even try to live up to that potential. Not as individuals, but as a culture and as a species. It’s a kind of spirituality that we’re gonna need if we’re gonna survive ourselves — the warning-bell news today about how the rapidly warming Arctic will likely be ice-free this summer suddenly makes Wall-E seem urgently relevant — and I can’t think of another movie that even comes close to this one in trying to gets its head around that idea.

Because Wall-E (the voice of Ben Burtt), this little robot, is our creation, and that’s not even a name — it’s just a description of what the robot is: Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-Class. It’s 700 years in the future, and Earth is literally trashed, a stripped-down garbage dump, an ecological disaster so vast and unfixable that the humans long ago up and left to who knows where. But the beginning of what’s so amazing about Wall-E is that it is still operating long after all its little fellow trash-cleaner-uppers have ceased functioning. It wanders the ruins of planet Earth, dutifully doing its now-lonely, pointless job of scooping up the junk, compacting it into cubes, and piling those cubes into what have become mountains of trash.

Writer-director Andrew Stanton creates a horrific vision of an empty, wrecked future Earth, and his animators have painted a world that is beautiful only in its ugliness: dusty and dirty, covered with the disposable detritus of humanity — everything from fast-food wrappers to broken-down cars to abandoned mega shopping malls; a sickly sun just barely breaks through an endless overcast; you can practically taste a metallic tang in the air. It’s a classic SF dystopia, rendered so photorealistically that it’s almost impossible to believe all of this came out of a computer… and yet the heartbreak of it — it made me cry, it’s such a poignant representation of human senselessness — is constantly warring with Wall-E’s joy, for he doesn’t realize that he’s in a dystopia. He’s alone, but he’s not unhappy.

I switched to “he,” because the technological miracle of Wall-E is that what was once merely a machine has become sentient, prompted, perhaps, by the other mysterious bits of human civilization he encounters (the ones other than him, because of course he’s really just another bit of forgotten junk). He has made a collection of inexplicable doodads that, maybe because of an odd unexpected spark across his CPU, suddenly began to enthrall him and fill him with curiosity: Rubik’s cubes, strings of Christmas lights, videos of Hello, Dolly, and a million other strange and marvelous weirdnesses.

Wall-E — and Wall-E — is almost the saddest thing ever, a cross between E.T. and those Mars rovers that just won’t give out: he’s a wonder of human ingenuity and yet also a product necessitated by human folly. He is a deeply touching symbol of us as both our own gods and our own demons. And Wall-E is Toy Story — both Toy movies were also written by Stanton — taken back a meta step, not about one little boy and the artifacts of his childhood but about the whole human race and the artifacts of the ignorance innocence we’ve yet to grow past.

This film isn’t a comedy: it’s a tragedy, a complicated, breathtaking tragedy that gets more tragic the more it veers into comedy, as happens when Wall-E meets a new friend in Eve (the voice of Elissa Knight), a sleek robot who arrives on a spaceship on, seemingly, an exploratory mission (her name is an acronym, too, but to reveal what it stands for would spoil a key plot point), and further, as Wall-E follows Eve when she later leaves Earth again. And it’s tragic in part because we get confirmation that our suspicions — first raised in the ruins of Earth, which are dominated by the debris of a megacorp called Buy ’n’ Large — that humanity devolved into an idiocracy are in fact true. And it turns out that Wall-E and Eve are more human than what humans have become.

Not only is this not a comedy, it’s not a kids’ movie. They won’t be bored by it, but they’ll miss what’s so special about it. It’s so exquisite — from the near-silent-movie-ness of it during its first half to the brutal but candy-colored satire of its second half — that people will still be watching this movie hundreds of years from now. And if we’re not lucky, and not smart, and not wise, those people will watch Wall-E and they’ll know that we knew that the ruination of the Earth was possible, and that we did nothing to stop it.


Watch Wall-E online using LOVEFiLM‘s streaming service.


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Wall-E (2008)
US/Can release: Jun 27 2008
UK/Ire release: Jul 18 2008

MPAA: rated G
BBFC: rated U (contains very mild threat and violence)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Can’t wait to see this movie when I get home from vacation tomorrow night.

    From your description, it sounds like WALL-E has a lot in common with the triplet droids Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running… droids assigned to tend to that which humanity has neglected to the point of destruction (in Silent Running’s case, the last forests of Earth, contained in domes aboard huge spaceships… later reused in the original Battlestar Galactica and then re-envisioned in the new series). They didn’t talk, either, but even so they were capable of almost human-like emotion through their limited robotic movements. Watching the last, brilliantly-lit forest dome sail through the darkness of space with a single droid aboard watering the plants with a beat-up little watering can was so poignant that even now I get a little choked up watching it.

  • j4yx0r

    I had no idea this movie would be as subversive or scary as it turned out to be. It completely floored me.

    The last film I saw in theaters was The Happening. The juxtaposition hurts my head. This is how you bring the message that (I think) Night was trying to convey. I mean the cautionary message — not the thinly shrouded Creationist stuff, of course.

    I was horrified by the rampant consumerism and human apathy that Wall-E’s world conveyed. On the surface, the hyperbole is funny but that shell is so thin. The moment I started to process what I was actually seeing, I realized I was watching one of the scariest films I’ve seen in a long while.

    ~j

  • John

    Beautiful review. I have to see this movie! Thank you!

  • Vikrambir I. Bagga

    Wall E’s utopia surfaces deep within, in the razed and desolated city lands of a now abandoned earth. The beautiful interplay between the battered ‘Hello, Dolly!’ VHS tapes and slides scrolling in the background creates a haunting and visceral thematic resonance to the wonderfully made 20’s cinematic pieces; moving you from within, letting you wonder what has just happened, and what is the lonely abandoned soul to do, but think of a thing as beautiful as LOVE, something so surreal & mysterious as a thing a Robot’s isolated soul could dream of; to feel, to be touched.

    My heart pounded with their first kiss, a vignette so wonderfully crafted and surreal. As close to bliss animation could get. Truly miraculous in all feats of the arena.

    PIXAR stamps a truly impressionable case of sophistication, sentiment, and a lovable story of a heart-smitten cute little bot who just can’t get enough of his counterpart, creating a magical world of the unreal and unseen, through the medium it knows best and the wisest of tools at it’s dispose; ANIMATION & is so evocative in it’s narrative that it would make any’s heart melt. Not to be dismissed by adults as a kids’ movie, for this is not in totality. It’s a miraculous film, suitable and to be absorbed by all ages and kind.

  • Maurice Webb

    I was blown away by “Wall-E”. I stepped into the auditorium briefly, telling myself, “I’ll only watch for a moment, then catch the rest on my next day off”, and soon found myself seated, glued to my seat, and that my eyes were not so seldom wet with tears.

  • parris

    Damn.

    That’s all I can say when I see something this good, when I get a taste in my mouth that I don’t want to wash away for at least a month.

    Damn!

    It’s the best thing I’ve had the pleasure of feasting on in a while.

    I have to use the ‘G’ word here…

    Wall-E is GENIUS. Pure and simple.

  • Geoff

    When EVE thought she had lost Wall-E in the space sequence, the way she reacted was the most poignant and heartbreaking expression I have ever experienced in a film, followed by pure and utter joy. By far the best Theater experience I have ever had.

  • PaulW

    It’s been said elsewhere, and I think Ms. Flick herself mentioned it, but Pixar has yet to make a BAD movie. Ever. Spielberg or Hitchcock or Ford or Bergman or Fellini can’t claim that. Pixar movies you think are weak are still five to ten times better than any other animated film made since Lion King (and even Disney’s best classics like Lion King or Beauty and the Beast would have a tough time beating out Pixar’s top three films). Even their shorts are classics.

    The tricky part about watching Pixar films? Figuring how to rank which one better than the others!

    I mean, here’s my list, and people will definitely fault me for putting one over the other…

    1) Incredibles. Not just a great film, but also one of the top 3 superhero films ever. Additional kudos to Brad Bird for the voice performance of Edna, and for answering the debate on superhero fashion (NO CAPES!)
    2 and 3) Toy Story I & II. You’ll notice nearly every Pixar movie has a Moral, but how that Moral gets presented is so subtle and moving you never mind, such as with these movies about love and abandonment: what happens when a child outgrows the toys that love him/her…?
    4) Monster, Inc. Great buddy interplay between Goodman (the Oscars should nominate voice actors!) and Crystal, and it ends on the best closing scene ever… a monster smiling…
    5) Finding Nemo. What I said about Goodman deserving an Oscar nod goes triple for Ellen DeGeneres, whose voice performance as Dory anchors (pun intended) the whole movie. If you’re not crying when Dory begs Marlin not to leave her… tsk. With the undersea images, possibly the most beautiful film ever.
    6) Ratatouille. The plot, let’s admit, meanders a bit, but the striking visuals, and the underlying Moral – not Anyone Can Cook, but Do What You Love – propels the movie to its enjoyable ending.
    7) Bug’s Life. One of the funnier movies on the list. The plot’s derivative – Three Amigos, cough – but it’s pulled off well. With one of the best cartoon villains ever, and one of the most frightening villain deaths ever!

    Cars I haven’t seen. I have nephews handy so maybe they can loan me their copy. :-) Planning to see Wall-E tomorrow…

  • Just got back from seeing it.

    F.
    Ing.
    Brilliant.

    Clearly the best movie Pixar’s ever made. It’s utterly amazing how much emotion they were able to display (and evoke in the viewing audience) with a main cast that speaks in single word sentences and that lacks traditional faces. WALL-E himself was magical, especially in that bit near the end (which I will not describe so as not to spoil anyone).

    And the opening short was definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen (and I’ve seen ’em all).

  • MaryAnn

    Pixar has yet to make a BAD movie.

    Yes, they have: *Cars* sucks. And the best that can be said about *Finding Nemo* is that it’s inoffensive but forgettable.

  • Jan Willem

    Hello MaryAnne, thanks for your canny review, which only aggravates the month-long wait for Wall*E over here in the Netherlands.
    I wholeheartedly agree Cars wasn’t much good, but frankly I’m surprised you consider Finding Nemo forgettable. There’s no accounting for tastes, I guess. (Oh yes there is, it’s called reviewing.) As a European with a pronounced aversion to the maudlin sentimentality often featured in American films I thought Andrew Stanton’s previous effort was both affecting and truthful in its depiction of a father-and-son dynamic. Admittedly, the ending was a bit of wish fulfilment, but that happens in all kiddie pictures. (In real life above and below sea level parents are less inclined to acknowledge their mistakes.) The lack of mind-blowing insights into submarine life didn’t bother me as much as it obviously did you. And as to the lack of fishy characters: the sharks were decidedly dubious.

  • darryl

    this movie broke my heart. a deep well of wisdom and love to rival the greatest works of art man has ever created. do i lie? i think not.

  • parris

    Gotta agree with MAJ about Cars.

    But I’d gladly endure an occasional ‘Cars’ if it means I get a Wall-E every so often. It’s worth it.

  • PaulW

    Just came back from seeing it.

    Wow.

    Definitely better than Nemo. (psst. My nephews would disagree with you about Nemo being forgettable (they still wanna join the fish tank’s club OO HA HA). And I still remember the ache in Dory’s voice when she’s begging Marlin not to abandon her)

    Now, you may be right about Cars. I still haven’t seen it… part of me is afraid, I don’t want my heart broken… ;)

    P.S. Did your theater include Presto as the opening short? I LOVED IT!

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, I saw “Presto,” and it’s wonderful.

  • PaulW

    Started watching some Wall-E AMVs on YouTube… I suddenly wondered if anyone good with video editing would make a Battlestar/Wall-E crossover vid… :evil grin:

  • YeagerTheCat

    Just got back from seeing it with our five year old. Best thing from Pixar since the Incredibles. Sure it may have flaws, but overall at remarkable piece of film making. Exceptionally pleased with it.

  • MaryAnn

    What flaws do you see? The film looks perfect to me.

  • Dan Duquette

    Oh my goodness! Regardless of the fact that Wall-E was incredible in every way, I’d actually pay a couple bucks just to see “Presto” again! ♥♥♥!!!

  • darryl

    saw the movie for a second time, just to make sure i wasnt being overly indulgent on the first viewing.
    there is no denying, in my heart, this is the greatest achievement in movie making ever. best viewed alone, i think, to allow ones emotions to flow without the worry of the quantum disturbances associated with being around those we know.
    its e.t as a 12year old all over again for me..i will see wall-e many more times.

  • allan

    @PaulW

    Bug’s Life is more of a retelling of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Maybe Amigos is too, I haven’t seen it.

  • darryl

    anyone who truly loves movies inadvertently becomes a critic. perhaps anyone who loves anything deeply, does..even love itself?
    so using another pixar movie as a metaphor, i experienced the same thing the critic “ego” from ratatouille– i saw star wars when i was a child, and that was it, movies were it for me. then came raiders of the lost ark and e.t. what a time to fall in love with the magic of movie making. but to be honest, since then, ive had a love affair, but its more like a like affair, where i defend movies, but never really see the redeaming qualities past the point of its fun to watch a movie– as ego sat down and ate the ratatouille his eyes dialated with delight and he was transported back to his childhood to when he really fell in love with eating. back to the innocence.
    i felt that exact same thing.

  • Pen Dragon

    Not sure what, if anything, I’m missing, but I was supremely unimpressed with Wall-E. It had at least two transcendent ideas, that of the robot gaining self-awareness and learning to live as a sentient being (what a silent movie that would have been!); and that of humanity consuming itself to death and literally drowning in its own waste products, and then (d)evolving into what we see aboard the Axiom, and possibly returning to Earth and life. (A third bonus idea, that of humans learning to live as sentient beings after centuries of sterile, disconnected sociability, is introduced, but is touched on so lightly that I’m not sure it counts.)
    None of these ideas is treated thoroughly, and by skimming over them the way they did, the Pixar people indicate that they couldn’t have adequately addressed them, and so discarded them in favor of kid-movie slapstick.
    I realize I’m probably the only person on Earth that didn’t like this movie, so I’d better be clear that this is in no way a joke, or a trick to draw out even more praise for the film; I honestly, sincerely, really really didn’t like Wall-E.
    Does anyone out there agree? I’d settle for someone understanding without condoning, but I’m probably just going to get flamed. Good hunting.

  • MaryAnn

    I decree that no one shall flame Pen Dragon.

  • Hypocee

    No, you’re not alone. There are a couple of critics out there who think A) that it’s just a big old pile of Message or (in one case) B) that it’s got interesting ideas, inconsistently followed, but is slow, boring and analytical to the point of being unsuitable for kids.

    As for the “flaws” mentioned upthread, I think enough time has elapsed that I won’t be read as speaking for YeagertheCat. Most of the criticism in other…criticism…centers around the third act; that the humans have screen time out of proportion with their character development, making the film drag while we watch uninteresting ciphers instead of the characters we’ve been bonding with from the start.

    I’m seeing it tomorrow night, so I can only report others’ words for now.

  • Mark

    I can understand where your coming from Pen Dragon. I liked the movie, but I also was turned off by certain parts of it. Any moment with a human in it simply didn’t work for me. The movie was %100 about Wall-E and Eve in my eyes, and anything taking away from that was a distraction.
    The environmental message does seem awfully heavy handed as well.

    *spoilers ahead*
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    The ending was a bit lame. Was there ever any doubt that Wall-E would be ok? That might work for kids who haven’t seen such a scene ten million times before, but I was not amused. I still like that he finally got to hold her “hand”, though. I’m not THAT cold.
    .
    .
    .
    *end spoilers*

    Despite the “flaws”, the good definitely outweighed them.
    Wall-E and EVE were robots with LIFE in them. They were so well done.

    *more spoilers*
    .
    .
    .
    The space scene when Wall-E is ejected and blown up, only to end up flying around with Eve. Beautiful.
    The whole first chunk of the movie before they get to the ship was great.
    some of the robots on the ship were amusing, such as the cleaning one, and the other “rejects”

    Overall, I would say it was a good movie, but certainly not perfection like so many people are saying.

  • AlanM

    I liked Wall-E, but I didn’t go nuts over it (The Incredibles? I went nuts. Ratatouille? Nuts. FWIW, I agree with MAJ about Cars. Meh. That just proves that they are human and makes me appreciate the good stuff even more).

    SPOILER

    If the movie had stayed on Earth it might have been better. I didn’t think the tone of the two parts worked well together (I also wanted them to continue the no-dialogue high-wire act). I didn’t really believe some of the things that happened in the second half (people who have been sedentary their entire lives are not just going to get up and walk around and I had no problem believing that a rat could cook so don’t give me this suspension of disbelief crap and why in the heck would they want to go back to Earth???? It’s a hell-hole!) and I thought the message was a little heavy handed. I also didn’t like EVE’s girlish simper (that seemed like too much of a stereotype and also too human. Wall-E’s emotions were very real and yet he remained 100% a robot). And how wierd was it to see actual non-animated people in a Pixar film? What was up with that?

    END SPOILER

    That said, someone find me a Wall-E robot with matching cockroach for my desk post haste or there is going to be trouble. I mean it.

  • MaryAnn

    There are a couple of critics out there who think A) that it’s just a big old pile of Message or

    I find that “criticism” fascinating because it seems to me that the “message” is all in the subtext.

    Was there ever any doubt that Wall-E would be ok?

    Actually, I wondered, because the rest of the movie was so stark that I could easily have seen Wall-E being sacrified to the higher cause.

  • Since it looks like we’re talking about spoilers…

    Just in case:

    SPOILERS!!!!

    When EVE repaired WALL-E by replacing all of his damaged parts, particularly the chip that got fried aboard the Axiom, it appeared at first that his memory, his personality, all that made him unique was lost… his behavior reverted back to default and he seemed destined to go back to just slavishly turning garbage into cubes. He forgot EVE, and he forgot that all of the stuff in his truck had meaning to him… it wasn’t just trash to him.

    And this would make sense: He’s a robot, after all, and if you yank out his chips, the electromechanical components where his program runs, and replace them with new chips, the program that was running would almost certainly be lost or restored to default settings. He ran without being “rebooted” for 600 years or so and during that time, his program developed the quirks, personality, and even desire that we saw earlier in the film. And then it was gone, the pattern of code and bits seemingly lost forever when EVE repaired him.

    But it wasn’t. His parts were replaced, but he still lived on. What does that tell you?

    Is it possible that during his long time alone on Earth, WALL-E found himself the proud owner of a soul, some part of him that existed independently of his physical being?

  • James T

    I thought WALL-E was good. I don’t think it’s going to be one of my most favorite Pixar movies but I enjoyed it. My kids also enjoyed it although it had much more drama than they are accustomed to. I think that speaks well of any movie that can hold the attention of a 9 year old girl and 7, 5 and 3 year old boys. As a point of reference, one of our favorites is Cars so the tone was quite different for my kids to grasp. (Cars is one of very few movies that I see differently from Mary Ann probably because we live in the Southwest and drive V-8’s etc.)

    My kids said they enjoyed the humor and since they dig sci-fi (we’re all Star Wars nuts) that also kept them and me entertained. I’d also like to applaud the advances in CGI Pixar has made with WALL-E. The earth scenes where stunningly rendered and quite a leap over anything else they have done before.

    The only part of the movie that took me out of the moment was ***SPOILER ALERT*** when all the fat, sloby, never walked before in their life humans come running off the AXIOM as though they would have no problems going from microgravity to earth gravity. Otherwise, the love story between two robots was very well done.

  • amanohyo

    Pen Dragon, Mark, AlanM, and James T express a lot of my reservations about the movie; I definitely feel that there was a bit more cheating in the characterization of Eve as opposed to Wall E, whose personality seems to grow naturally out of his original function. Fundamentally, Pixar is facing the artistic dilemma that all American animation studios will eventually have to solve.

    On the one hand, their ability to produce subtle, nuanced performances from their “actors” and generate complex emotions in their viewers has improved dramatically.

    On the other hand, they have to shake themselves out of the Disney mindset that animation is primarily for children and is only capable of painting emotions with broad, happy strokes.

    Wall E is almost perfect up until the moment it boards the ship and leaves Earth. From that moment on, it is clearly a children’s movie. Sure, it superficially tackles some serious problems, but it has no depth. No one with half a brain doesn’t already know that we are polluting the Earth, or that Americans have an issue with a sedentary lifestyle based on consumption (this movie neatly sidesteps what happens to the poor people on the planet… eaten? left behind to starve? servicing robots?), and the riffs on 2001 have already been done far better in many, many other sci-fi movies.

    If they really want to push the medium as far as it deserves to go (as Japan regularly does), Pixar needs to split off an adult-animation division. I’m not talking blood and boobs “adult,” I’m talking leave the two robots on Earth, cut back on the “haha Wall E shore is clumsy” slapstick, let Wall E lose “his” memory completely forever and explore how Eve deals with the loss and tries to rebuid a small part of the Earth (and her memories of Wall E) on “her” own… perhaps even trying to reteach Wall E after Wall E and never quite succeeding in recapturing what she lost.

    That’s just one scenario out of many “adult” possibilities, but the simplistic slapstick, overweight cartoon captains, goofy sidekicks, and forced happy endings gotta go. All this stuff was merely a distraction in some other Pixar movies (Monsters Inc., Ratatouille), others were purely children’s movies to begin with (Cars and Nemo), but in this film these features are an obvious liability, a commercial cancer. There was an amazing movie inside Wall E that was aborted, and it shouldn’t happen again just because Pixar doesn’t want parents and kids to get fidgety or depressed.

  • MaryAnn

    No one with half a brain doesn’t already know that we are polluting the Earth, or that Americans have an issue with a sedentary lifestyle based on consumption

    Are you sure about that?

  • amanohyo

    I hope so… if not, there are a ton of people with serious denial issues out there (or so poor, they’re just worried about putting food on the table). I doubt a lot of kids realize these things yet though. I heard the environmental light bulb switch on for a couple youngsters sitting in front of me, which was pretty cool.

    As a pro-environment robot love story for kids in wealthy western countries, the movie works wonderfully. But it led me on by promising to be so much more in the beginning. Or rather, so much less, but explored much more deeply. I still liked the movie a lot, and the credit roll at the end was awesome.

  • Molly

    ooh… I loved it but it does feel like two movies… the first… stunning. The second… a classic pixar flick.
    I think they should have done two versions, one for kids with the pretty colorful fat humans and then another, adult version, for the people that were in awe over the first part, set partly in earth, partly in space (if the humans had all died on the axium!) just for the most amazing scene EVER… and you guys know exactly which one I’m talking about…

    Define: Dancing. That was the best scene in the entire movie, maybe next to the…

    SPOILER!

    Scene where eve finds out what happened in her coma.

    SPOILER OVER!

    I want an eve for my desk!!! She would match my mac perfectly!!!
    Oh, and computer geeks: who else had a fit of laughter when wall e booted up with the mac sound? Seeing as Steve Jobs approved the idea, i suppose it was a favor… and there was an ipod in walle’s collection of stuff. I loved that.
    Yes. I am in love with apple, and by extension, eve.

    The score is also amazing!!! go look it up!!!

  • j4yx0r

    Disney, in an astoundingly hypocritical move, decides to sell cheap Wall-E crap (contains Wall-E spoilers so don’t click if you care). They’ve even gone the extra mile by creating a ‘Buy n Large’ website where you can purchase more cheap crap. Sad. Sad. Sad.

    ~j

  • bitchen frizzy

    Heh.

    And coming in time for Christmas is the Wall-E robot toy…

  • Pen Dragon

    I’d like to thank you all for your understanding, especially the flame ban, MAJ.

    Spoiler alert:

    The part that I found most interesting (and so most disappointing, given its treatment) was what might have happened to the humans once they reached Earth. They’re all morbidly obese, overrun with who knows what kind of futuristic obesity diseases (diabetes, of course, possibly a host of others that don’t manifest themselves until the fifth generation of absolutely sedentary life; after 700 years of nothing but Slurpees, who knows if they can even digest real food anymore?); it seems that most of them have never walked or performed any physical labor more strenuous than pushing buttons; they have lost (presumably) their natural immunities (due to the ultra-sterile environment and lack of physical interaction with any living creatures) and they think pizza grows on trees. On top of their lack of survival skills, Earth is still polluted and covered in trash, not at all suited for large-scale farming.
    My first thought, seeing the humans beginning to resettle the planet, was something like “98% of those people will be dead within a week.” This probably would not cross the minds of most kids, but the main selling point of Pixar’s previous masterpieces was that they were accessible to kids without being childish.

  • AlanM

    Can I get my Wall-E toy first and *then* jump on the anti-consumerist bandwagon?

    And amanohyo, I love your suggested ending to Wall-E. It would have been total box office poison, but Pixar could have made an essentially dialogue free, tragic love story between robots that would have broken your heart. I can understand why they didn’t make it, but I wish they had anyway.

  • MaryAnn

    who else had a fit of laughter when wall e booted up with the mac sound?

    *raises hand*

  • Pen, don’t forget that the Axiom was still there. The passengers still had access to all of its advanced technology, including the tireless robotic crew and (presumably) recycling and manufacturing systems (where else would they get all of their food and replacement clothes while in deep space?). It’s not like when Kirk dumped Khan off on Ceti Alpha VI (or was it V?) with barely enough supplies to exist. They were not being thrown into the pool like the Golgafrinchans were when their B Ark crashed on Earth in the HHGTTG series; they were being allowed to dip a toe in and gradually get used to things on Earth. (One shot from the end titles showed the Axiom being slowly covered by vines. Obviously the ship would be around for a very, very long time.)

    As to the microgravity argument, the Axiom obviously had artificial gravity, so the passengers would not have been suffering from bone loss or other long-term-zero-G effects, despite what the animation showed. Being fat like that is not genetic, but a side effect of living a completely sedentary lifestyle, so their kids and many of the adults would be normal weight within a matter of just a few years. I think we can assume that a society capable of interstellar travel can probably cure things like diabetes and cancer.

  • Molly

    I think that gravity was there, but to a lesser extent. You can increase and reduce the gravity of things. I’m sure so far in the future, we could do it somehow.
    And also, wouldnt plastic surgery have become mainstream? They could get skinnier by lipo and tummy tucks.
    I think that in this world, technology came to a screeching halt when people went on the axiom. So, everything sort of makes sense. The robots took the jobs.
    And, what’s funny is that the Axium was a “Utopian society” with everyone equal, except the captain, of course. Dosent being exactly the same as everyone add spice to life? NO. The people, it looks like, were pretty unhappy.
    So… its sort of sending conflicting political veiws a bit… but I have a feeling wall e wasnt meant to be annalized to THIS level. Maybe I’m missing something obvious here…

  • Allen Darrah

    I wasn’t so deeply impacted by a movie since… well, I can’t remember. I think your review had the appropriate weight for what was, I think, one of the most brutal, fundamental, beautiful, and poignant movies I’ve ever seen.

    I can’t help but love where animation and storytelling is today. Quality of this magnitude isn’t usually seen in American animation so I’m really just so very happy with WALL*E for so many reasons.

    Typically I only judge Pixar against Pixar, as competition in the medium is really just lacking. I can consider Pixar films on par with other cinema in a lot of ways, but basically I always end up comparing Pixar movies to other Pixar movies, which is probably unfair (and might not be the case anymore with WALL*E). Initially I still thought The Incredibles to be a better movie, and it still might be, for me, from a pure “entertainment” standpoint. But WALL*E was, actually, perfect. I wasn’t as entertained as I was during The Incredibles while watching WALL*E, but I’m definitely more impacted after the fact.

  • PaulW

    Side note: this might be the first year the Oscars give out an award for Best Robot: your nominees are Wall-E, the Fire Extinguisher Bot from Iron Man, and David Duchovny.

    >:)

  • darryl

    the world is deeper than anyone has ever imagined. who woulda thought it would take a superficial device like computer animation to show this.

    critique this movie at the expense of your humanity.

  • amanohyo

    Whoah… you’re freakin’ me out a little darryl. Are you saying I gotta tear up my human card because I think the last part of the movie is sorta shallow? That kind of inflexible idolatry is almost… robotic.

    Oh hoho, do you see how I have turned the tables? Now it is you good sir, whose humanity is in question for disagreeing with me. Seriously though, nothing is above criticism because nothing is a flawless masterpiece to everyone… as far as I know.

    What deep insights did the movie impart to you? Did it open your eyes about what we are doing to the planet? Did the ending leave you optimistic about our ability to overcome the social and environmental problems we face? Did it motivate you to go to the gym more often and buy less useless crap? Did it move you with a tale of a love that no laser could destroy?

    I guess I’m just asking how exactly did the movie give you an impression of the deepness of the world? The technology on display was beautiful, the characterization of Wall E was brilliant, but didn’t the last half seem a tad trite?

  • darryl

    when an innocent little plant rises up amongst a world of towering garbage, one must have the wisdom to protect this and see how special it is regardless of what they want to think. it is our obligation as critics and human beings to understand and see this.
    to help the seed grow..to help others experience it in a positive way.

  • amanohyo

    It clearly touched you pretty deeply. Well, I suppose it can’t be too bad of a movie if it makes people feel like there are special things in the world. I just wish I could feel some of that positive energy too. Seems like it’s getting harder and harder to experience anything that happens in a purely positive way. Maybe a happy little robot love story about the rebirth of the planet is a perfect antidote for the blues. But will it be a catalyst for any real change? I don’t know.

  • celticdragon

    I agree with clavj that much of the tone and styling was strongly reminiscent of Silent Running. I wonder that other people have not noticed that as well. The 2001 HAL comparison was pretty obvious.

    As for liking it? I ask myself if the movie affected me on some level, before I ask if was entirely consistent, historically accurate or some such.

    Yes, WALL*E grabbed me. It was moving, and I came close to tears at times. I didn’t bawl, like I did when Hector (Eric Banja) went to his doom before the walls of Troy at the hands of Achilles (Brad Pitt).

    I didn’t stare in open mouthed shock and horror, as I did at the end of Michael Mann’s beautifully realized “Last of the Mohicans”. (hey, I didn’t read the nearly unreadable book in that case)

    It grabbed me quietly, and held me enthralled. It was both deeply disturbing, and yet joyful. If you haven’t figured out how the makers of the movie managed that trick…well…neither have I.

  • darryl

    i could get even more philosophical about this movie, but im sure id start sounding insane…if i dont already.
    so i ll leave it at this.

    as deeply philosophical wall-e is, it understands love and innocence trump idea and concept.
    enjoy.

    :-)

  • Dan Duquette

    “I definitely feel that there was a bit more cheating in the characterization of Eve as opposed to Wall E”

    Ummmmm, she booted with a MAC sound. That’s enough characterization for me.

    Like Apple with all their newer products, “BnL” spent much less time on rough edges, squares, and fine, cosmetic details. They spent more time on smoothness, sleekness, and efficiency. They left no room for personality.

    Sooooooo: Eve was made much more sleeker, and programmed more efficiently. She did her job and would end never collect things care about material things etc. She didn’t have ANY personality until she met Wall-E.

  • amanohyo

    I was mainly talking about the relationship between Eve’s function: *Mini Spoiler* to search for evidence of plantlife, and “her” personality: easily frustrated, violent, powerful, proud of her job, maternal.

    I’m not saying she doesn’t have a personality– she’s got tons of personality. It just sorta emerges without much connection to her function (except perhaps her respect for proper procedure). Again I understand, in the interest of time and fidgety kids, they had to move things along.

    In comparison, watching the first part of the movie, it’s very easy to understand how Wall E could have slowly and naturally developed “his” obsession with the objects that he compacts and stacks. It’s not a huge deal, but it did feel a bit like they established Wall E as a curious, lonely child, and then forced some stereotypically feminine pesonality traits onto Eve that really don’t have much justification. Maybe the programmers at BnL are just odd that way.

  • Dan Duquette

    I was too tired earlier but now, I definitely see where you’re coming from, she did have quite a destructive personality before Wall-E’s severe cuteness softened her up a bit. We can all have our opinions but we can never really get into the heads of Pixar and see exactly what message they meant to convey about every little detail.

    Another note: I am not into video gaming very much,(I blame it on not having enough time, with all the movies I watch) but I did enjoy a very intelligent puzzle-based game called Portal based in the Halflife universe, Eve did remind me of this game, many a time.

  • MaryAnn

    as deeply philosophical wall-e is, it understands love and innocence trump idea and concept.

    I think part of our problem, as a culture, is that we value “innocence” too much and devalue “ideas” too much, so we’ve ended up in a place where knowledge is dangerous and people who are too smart are suspect. Perhaps we’ve always been like this: certainly the story of the Garden of Eden is a cautionary tale about the dangers of thinking for yourself. Perhaps our maturity as a species will come when we figure out how to be wise *and* joyful at the same time. I thnk this movie is both, and as such, is an extreme rarity.

  • Um, it was WALL-E, the crude, boxy robot, who booted with the Mac sound, not EVE.

  • darryl

    wise and joyful..the gay science! f.n.

    although im sure we are on the same page, i dont believe its intelligence that is feared, its wisdom. intelligence fears wisdom, because both come from different places. intelligence is clever and desires to exploit, wisdom comes from a deep rooted understanding of the force that binds all things together. innocence is where wisdom comes from, oddly enough, the same place true love comes from. intelligence is just a way to get the upper hand on everything and exploit it until there is nothing left to take– and comes only from chemical reactions in the brain.
    actually, id go so far as to say intelligence is a form of retardation arising out of the weakest of the species..but since id get lumped in with the intelligent, and i dont believe im retarded, the jury is out.

    again, i think we agree, i just wish to take it a step further.

  • Jack

    All I can say is…

    Thank You Andrew Stanton!

    Make no mistake…this is a romance for the screen ages. I was moved to tears by these wonderful star-crossed creations. There might have been another time when I felt such pure joy watching a movie, but I can’t remember it. Let the haters hate. Wall E is the romantic fool in all of us just busting to get out.

    There is now a new entry in my top ten films of all time: Wall E.

    Pixar = Excellence

  • Ok, just a little disagreement on the matter of “Personality” with the robots. Here’s how I saw it.

    All the robots in this movie are as old as Wall-E, and were made by the same company. Whatever potential Wall-E had for personality, all the other robots have too.

    One of the themes I took away from this movie is “Life happens off the rails”. All the people and robots in this movie are kept on strict routine, to the point of following lit lines on the floor. This has kept everyone’s personalities suppressed, because they have o outlet for expression.

    Wall-E, however, has nothing reinforcing his “rails”. He still has his directive, but there’s nothing stopping him from reacting to the world around him, which has allowed him to indulge his curiosity, and allowed his personality to flourish. Because of this, Wall-E serves as a catalyst when he gets to the Axiom, knocking people and robots ‘Off the rails”, sometimes literally. As soon as that happens, you start to see personality traits emerge. Think about the typist robot Wall-E waves to, or John and Mary waking up to the world around them once their routines are interrupted.

    Eve, on the other hand, is not that far off from Wall-E in regards to personality. She’s been doing her scouting missions annually for 700 years, if not constantly like Wall-E. Right away, we catch a glimpse of a personality once the spaceship leaves, and she takes that quick flight purely for fun, reveling in the freedom. As the movie progresses, you can see how the directive-based programming, hair-trigger defense system, and scanning behaviors seem to be changing into determination, temper, and curiosity. Wall-E is just a catalyst to expand on those fledgling personality traits, and provide an entirely new experience: relationships.

    One last note on the gender of the characters, one of the things I found interesting is that you can’t really call either of them gender stereotypes. If anything, Wall-E’s closest Disney match is Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”, with his treasure trove and mooning over love. Eve, on the other hand, is closer to the Prince Charming model, a Prince on a Quest that must save Wall-E. The characters cold just as easily have been gender-swapped without changing anything.

  • MaryAnn

    One of the themes I took away from this movie is “Life happens off the rails”.

    That’s a beautiful way to explain it!

  • My brother and I took my mother, who’s 70, to see WALL-E yesterday. She loved it… and right at the very end, when things were looking bad for WALL-E, I heard her say, “Oh, no, no”.

    And now I’ve just remembered what that scene reminds me of: Charly, starring Cliff Robertson. What happens to WALL-E is very much like what happened to Charly… he goes from being simple to being a genius, he falls in love and then, tragically, reverts to his “original” self and doesn’t have any memory of who he was or that he loved someone… but that someone remembers everything, including the love they shared. Thankfully, for WALL-E this loss of identity was not permanent; for Charly it was, and it was one of the saddest things I have ever seen on film to see Charly unable to understand the sadness on Alice’s face when she sees that the Charly she knew is gone.

    If WALL-E had ended that way, with WALL-E losing what made him unique, I think I would have lost it right there in the theatre.

  • dgrhm

    OK, you can tell I’ve been working in web design too long. There is a whole Buy N Large website:

    http://www.buynlarge.com/

    What’s amazing is how much detail was put into it.

    I thought the movie was great! It was hilarious to see all the adults being carted around like adult infants. Nice touch.

  • amanohyo

    I watched it again just to make sure, and I still don’t like the second half as much (ironically, it feels like it’s on rails). The captain is established as a complete weakling, and then a surge of adrenaline allows him to support his entire weight with his arms for nearly a minute while being shaken violently? That’s the kind of cartoonish cheat that cheapens the movie. However, I did see some of the justification for Eve’s personality that Left_Wing_Fox pointed out.

    When Wall E sings/humms, it sounds eerily similar to Cartman.

  • Chris-E

    This film is fantastic! Truly a masterpiece and a perfect film in my eyes. It’s great sci-fi and a charming love story.

    It’s funny reading user reviews at yahoo.com. There’s a lot of false anger at the “polical” and “evironmental” messages posed in the film. I guess most people really are as dumb as I always assumed they were. Quotes like “they don’t talk enough at first” or “I don’t go to a movie to think” really get me. Political affiliations asside, shouldn’t we all want a clean Earth? Everytime I go into a Wal-Mart I see that fat lady riding the cart, I’m sure you have too. I don’t want to be her! Things have changed very quickly and it seems we now live only to pay taxes, buy gas and shop at Wal-Mart.

    I also find it funny that a film with a social message is always considered leftist or liberal. I am conservative (though no longer a Republican – I’m an athiest) but I thought this film, like most Pixar films, actually appeals to what is considered to be core conservative values (as if liberals are vampires or something). It’s funny how ignorance continues to pervade the right.

    I found this great blog from Patrick Ford on a conservative website:

    “The real tragedy of these callous conservative critics (say that three times fast) is that they are missing the real lessons of the movie, ones I found immediately attractive to a traditional conservative. In the film, it becomes clear that mass consumerism is not just the product of big business, but of big business wedded with big government. In fact, the two are indistinguishable in WALL-E’s future. The government unilaterally provided it’s citizens with everything they needed, and this lack of variety led to Earth’s downfall.

    Another lesson missed is portrayed perfectly in Coffin’s claim that WALL-E points out the “evils of mankind.” The only evils of mankind portrayed are those that come about from losing touch with our own humanity. Staples of small-town conservative life such as the small farm, the “atomic family,” and old-fashioned and wholesome entertainment like “Hello, Dolly” are looked upon by the suddenly awakened humans as beautiful and desirable. By steering conservative families away from WALL-E, these commentators are doing their readers a great disservice.”

    I wish there were more films like Wall-E. If love, friendship, humor and a little social responsibility are “liberal” then count me in I guess.

    Love your reviews MAJ! Keep it up.

  • amanohyo

    The many messages of the movie are fairly nonpartisan, but they are examined in such a superficial way that supporters of either party could find something to latch on to:

    Democrat:
    Corporations bad (Disney/ABC excepted)

    Republican:
    Big Government/Monopoly bad

    Human:
    Plants good
    Awareness of Beauty good
    Romance good
    Diversity/nonconformity good
    Overconsumption bad (Disney/ABC products excepted)
    Ceding important decisions to computers bad
    Pollution bad

    I was more interested in the idea that humans could potentially create robots that appeared to be more alive than the average human, or at least robots that could remind people of their humanity.

    Why was Eve programmed to be able to laugh? Why was it programmed to appear ticklish? Why does it instinctively try to destroy any moving object? Why does it start to protect Wall E and why does Wall E try to protect the roach? As far as I could tell, the Eve robots only had one function, and they almost never interacted with humans or even each other. None of this programming makes much sense. It’s like giving a robotic arm in a car factory the ability to giggle. These capabilities have to be built-in. Robots can’t develop human mannerisms spontaneously, although we can project our own human motivations onto their actions. Perhaps Wall E was taught some of his “humanity” by people, but Eve?

    That was the genius of the first part of the movie. Wall E was designed to operate in areas where humans might be present and certainly other Wall E’s would be around. I could understand why it would be programmed with the ability to organize objects by type, why it would be given a cutting laser, why BnL might have built in the ability to shiver in mock “fear” to communicate with humans that the robot felt threatened. Even to an extent why it would be programmed with the ability to dig and record/play back sounds. Most importantly, I could understand why it would be programmed to seek out other robots to scavenge from, cooperate with, and perhaps even learn from, although putting in routines to simulate longing and loneliness is a bit of a stretch.

    By the midpoint of the movie, the robots become almost completely anthropomorphic. I know this was intentional on Pixar’s part, the audience for the film being human and all, but most of that sense of wonder and belief in Wall E as a potentially genuine artifical creation was gone, and they were just humans in robots’ clothing.

    I’ve been trying to decide to what extent this is a subjective effect due to my growing attachment to the characters and to what extent it is actually conscious manipulation on the part of the filmmakers. I think a case can be made either way, but I can’t shake the feeling that Pixar is cheating in a lot of ways in that second half, giving Wall E and Eve a humanity that blossoms for no logical reason. I guess my issue is that the first half feels like hard science fiction and the second half feels more like a fable. The fact that they had to change the tone of the movie midway to manufacture their happy ending is much more depressing to me than a hypothetical ending where Wall E forgets his previous experiences forver.

    Some studios have to cheat to make their projects stand for something universal. Pixar doesn’t have to. Enduring loss and hope are much more powerful (and real) together than hope alone. Enduring loss probably doesn’t sell as many tickets or send people out of the theater with a smile on their face, but it’s more meaningful, both in life and in the context of this movie. Most large forms of life would be gone forever on that poisoned Earth. They’re shooting their message of hope in the foot by implying that a complete and flawless rebirth (or reboot) is even possible. We realists (some might say cynics) don’t quite buy it.

  • oomu

    of course, the movie has default. Thanks ! because perfection would be very difficult to accept.

    But I was totally mesmerized bye Wall-e and Eve characterisation.

    the “no. no..” scene was simple, direct and very impressive , and the dance following : lyrical

    I can understand the third act is disappointing because it basically revert to typical pixar (but great)

    but the movie is still full of wonderful moments. As when Eve sees what it happened while her “coma”.


    and the end. of course the movie should end well, because in the end, it’s not wall-e who takes Eve’s hand but Eve taking wall-e’s hand. The circle is complete. The movie goes round.


    Technically, you can speak about it without end, it’s mostly annoying how good the movie is. graphics, sound, colors, focus use and so on.


    you want logic ? you want SCIENCE ? you want computer-science ? you want to dream even if a movie with “living” machine is cheating ?

    okay I can do it :

    theses robots are tools used by humans. Humans need to relate to tools. look at yourself, you crave to give name or personnality to cars, computers or whatever stuff you like or hate. And humans need to communicate and live with theses damns robots.

    So you can’t build soulless robots and hope humans will use it for a long time. People need to relate to.

    Sophisticated robots in futur will use sophisticated programming and technology to give them humans stimulis and humans reactions .

    Laughing to funny stuff to amuse people, be annoyed with noise to let people know the robots found a problems (“foreign contaminant!”)
    and so on. It’s design, it’s interface. In the end, why Wall-e and Eve are “human-like” ? because they are humans creations. you can’t remove the human from all humans creations.

    The whole works in software design is to be more human-like . that movie is 700 years in fantasy future, so you can imagine.

    Thinks a minute about Eve: a flying robot armed with a powerful weapon. You should be sure people can like it if you want they accept it. How to do that, in building a huge personality able to understand humans reactions and properly express it’s own.

    Startrek Next Generation never ends to push that point with the “Data” character.

    Built to be human to be accepted by human. so much than it transcend his programming in his own way to be living.


    so it’s not a “sudden spark” bringing life. The synthesized life, the artificial feeling, the recreation of intelligence is all by design in all robots of the pixar’s movie. by design. And in the end, it does not matter at all if they are robots or not.

    They are built to care and so they care.

  • Chris-E

    This film is so fantastic. I saw it 5 days ago and can’t stop thinking about it. It has everything that made classic Disney films so great. Emotion, humor and important life lessons. It’s already one of my favorite films!

    I don’t even think the message is necessarily political. Sure people want to catagorize certain beliefs as being right or left, but some of it is pretty much common sense. Also, it’s the consumerism that’s the biggest threat to the environment. Sure we do our share of polluting, but it the stuff made in China that we buy in Wal-Mart that does the biggest damage. They have unregulated emmissions from their manufacturing plants. And for those attacking Disney for the film they may be surprised to know that Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target do not sell Wall-E toys (they do sell clothing and bedding, but those are biodegradable)! Sure you can go to Toys R Us, but at least there’s some integrity by not selling in the megastores.

    I’m also a little surprised that MAJ thinks CARS is a bad Pixar film. I thought the mesages were similar, just in a different package. I can see if you aren’t into cars much or have never driven across the country on Route 66 how you couldn’t relate, but I thought the idea of slowing down and observing your surroundings was poignant for a kids film. Seeing the effects of our “fast food, have it now” way of life on small towns along the road is a little sad. I actually happened to drive from DC to Los Angeles just a few months prior to the release of CARS so it hit home for me.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m also a little surprised that MAJ thinks CARS is a bad Pixar film. I thought the mesages were similar, just in a different package.

    I don’t review “messages” — I review movies… or “packages,” if you like. I don’t believe I’ve ever said I had any problem with the themes of *Cars* — it’s the execution of those themes that sucks.

  • Henry

    I don’t understand why these “other critics” have a problem with Wall-E having a Message; how can anybody call it heavy-handed? What’s the purpose of making a movie, if not to say something that can’t be said in any other way?

    If Wall-E is not a kid’s film, as MAJ states in her (otherwise perfect) review, then I shudder to think what our kids are watching. Wall-E is the perfect film for kids; today my son loves Wall-E’s and Eve’s personalities and the happy ending, but he will love it even more in five or ten years when he understands its importance. Meanwhile, I feel free to genuinely love it with him, and I can use it as a springboard for discussions about things that really matter, like love and responsibility. What more could you possibly want from a kid’s film?

  • oomu

    @henry

    it’s because some people believes (even if they don’t like it) to call a movie “kid’s movie” is demeaning.

    But I would say, Ghibli and Pixar made movies aimed to children with so many qualities than grown-ups love too. theses movies are deep and fun.

    You could also said Pixar and Ghibli made adults movies with child stuff around to please everyone.

    or maybe they also do movies they like themselves. In the “art of wall-e”, Stanton explains he had that idea for years and he really wanted to do a love story with robots.

    It’s true, you can found many “adult” thème in pixars movies or ghiblie’s (Porco rosso/Kurenai Buta for example) but never they forbid children to watch them.

    It’s a delicate balance.

    A good movie children really love is a very difficult thing to do and contrary to what people thinks, children are difficult to please and are worthy of great movies.

  • MaryAnn

    If Wall-E is not a kid’s film, as MAJ states in her (otherwise perfect) review, then I shudder to think what our kids are watching.

    Well, you should take a look at some of what is being sold to children as entertainment — you’ll do more than shudder.

    I didn’t say *Wall-E* was inappropriate for children — I said it’s not for children only, which *is* the case with most stuff aimed at kids. I personally do not think that something intended merely for children is somehow “demeaning,” as oomu suggests — but it’s pretty clear that the people who make most of the stuff aimed at kids have no problem demeaning kids (and themselves in the process).

    but he will love it even more in five or ten years when he understands its importance.

    That’s EXACTLY what I said, that kids will miss what’s so vital about this movie. So we’re in agreement, then.

  • Mat

    Pretty good movie. It even has some “man is destroying the world” for all the hippies out there.

  • MaryAnn

    “Hippies”?

    I wish people would explain their assholery if they’re going to insist on being assholes.

  • Chris-E

    Caring about one’s environment doesn’t make you a hippie or even leftist. I’m conservative, but I guess because I grew up in LA near the ocean and forests that I care more about the environment than most. Daily I would see the damage that vehicle emissions and garbage do to the landscape.

    Hippies are people who don’t want to work or go to school and use free love and free speech as an excuse to use drugs and have sex without taking any responsibility for their actions.

    This film is all about responsibility. It’s something we all need to have regardless of our politics, religion or ethnicity.

  • Shrubbery

    It so should have ended with Wall-E as a mindless trash-squisher, am I right? I think it would have stuck in people’s heads better, like a great big splinter.

    I still adored it, of course ;)

  • Chris-E

    I thought about it ending that way too, but since it was a love story and was made in part for children it would have been too traumatic (if not more cynical which is not what Pixar and Disney are about). I’m a 30 year old man, but I would have cried my ass off if it ended that way. As it was I was fighting tears (my wife thinks I’m a bitch!).

    It reminded me of Spielberg’s A.I. in a way. David sets out on a journey for love and encounters reject robots along the way to ulimately find his “Mommy” again. That film could have ended twice with David under water never finding the blue fairy and would have been very sad. Some people think that all sci-fi should be cynical and dystopian but I like that there is a sense of hope and that humans are not all bad, just selfish and misguided at times.

  • MaryAnn

    made in part for children it would have been too traumatic (if not more cynical which is not what Pixar and Disney are about).

    Hey, we watched Bambi’s mother get blown away as kids! That was way more traumatic than Wall-E ending up mindwiped.

    I don’t see how that would have been a cynical ending: it would have been a sacrifice on Wall-E’s part, and that’s noble, isn’t it?

    I’m a 30 year old man, but I would have cried my ass off if it ended that way

    So? What’s wrong with crying your ass off?

  • Shrubbery

    There’s a difference between dystopian and just plain sad. What’s the point of crying over a dystopia story, since everything sucks already? You cry when you’ve been shown something good and happy and worth crying over. And you cry because it’s been made really compellingly clear to you why that thing is so important, and what it means that it’s gone. I thought that impressing that particular realization upon the audience was the whole point of /Wall-E/.

    The actual ending let both the characters and the audience get off unscathed and scot-free, IMO. It lets you forget, at the cheesiest time to forget, just how crappy the situation really is. The human race has lost its dignity, its intelligence, and its whole planet, but hey, these robots are in love, and isn’t that just sweet? Doesn’t that feel just a little bit lame to you?

    I don’t really think the comparison to /A.I./ is feasible because that movie was all over the place and /Wall-E/ was so concentrated. You can say that /Wall-E/’s ending betrayed its central theme, but /A.I./’s central theme, if it even had one, was not very emphatically or consistently conveyed. No one really cares if an inconsistent movie has an incongruous ending.

  • Shrubbery

    Also, yeah, there’s no way a failed love story could ever be more traumatic to children than the death of a parent.

  • Chris-E

    To MAJ: There’s nothing wrong with crying, I’m emotional and do it a lot (during movies at least-I’m pretty cold to the real world). I just about cried seeing the title for “INDIANA JONES” on opening night for KOTCS since I had been waiting for it for so long. I got this big swell of nostalgic emotion. Just about anything can make me cry unfortunately.

    As far as the ending is concerned, there would have been nothing wrong if it ended with Wall-E’s mind being erased, it certainly would have been a realistic and noble way to go, but I much prefer EVE & Wall-E being able to hold hands and truly being able to understand what the gesture means. It makes a powerful statement about the nature of love I think. It’s the quintessential human emotion.

  • Henry

    I guess I thought the whole point of the movie was that there are certain intangible things, like Personality or a Soul, that can’t be virtually simulated. By allowing themselves to consume until they couldn’t move, and have nothing but virtual friends and virtual experiences through the TV screens fixed in front of their faces, humans allowed an important part of their makeup to stagnate. Wall-E and Eve, by contrast, were two robots who longed for those intangibles. By allowing Wall-E’s personality to return to him as a result of Eve’s touch, it kind of illustrated the whole point: love, interaction, relationships, and touch transcend microchips. While the humans could arguably be in a tight spot at the end (although, keep in mind, as some have said, the Axiom and its resources are still available to them), the point is that they are better off working for something together, than mindlessly staring at simulations in isolation. So, it’s still a happy ending, in that sense, and the tone of the end reflected that: not Hey, everything’s perfect now! but, Hey, we’ve figured out what matters!

  • Accounting Ninja

    Just saw WALL-E… all I can say is, wow. So lovely. Finally, I have competition for the Incredibles (one of my all-time favs).

    To counter 2 points I have read here:
    1)EVE’s “girlishness”…now, as a female, I HATE it when “female” robots are painted pink or otherwise girled up. When I was a kid, I thought it was ludicrous that the male Transformers were all boxy and machine-like, but the females had breasts and shapely hips and legs. I guess I could be more forgiving if they had been built by humans with human ideals of beauty, but they had come from Cybertron, an entirely robotic world divorced from humanity. But, I digress. I LOVED EVE, so much! Sure, she had a “cute” laugh. But I took it more as a sign of how much more advanced she was than WALL-E. WALL-E had 700 years to develop his personality from nothing, and if I recall, he never laughed. The movie doesn’t say how old EVE is, but she’s obviously more advanced and was more likely built with her personality from the beginning. I don’t see where someone else thought she “had no personality until she met WALL-E”. That’s not true at all.
    Her primary traits: hair trigger temper, strong sense of duty, and bravery in the face of danger, are all unisex qualities and are even more often reserved for male characters. Even her temper was not presented as irrational, peevish or petty, as so many female tempers are (you know, the PMS and all: see also anime!).

    2) The “message”. I admit it, I don’t like environmental movies, not because I think the planet doesn’t need care and love, but because I just get tired of the dim view of humanity often presented within. I get sick of hearing how much of a cancer we are and how everything would just be better off without us. WALL-E showed that humans initially defiled the earth, yes, but it didn’t project them as fundamentally bad and selfish. The movie was like a tearful reunion between humanity and the earth. Notice how all the plants didn’t start to really propagate until the humans landed. It was as if the earth missed the humans. And the humans learned their lesson. Their evolution was unnatural and they realized this. Of course they wanted to go home! Look at what they had become without their planet. Surviving, but not really living. Maybe it was a little simplistic that none of the humans objected to going back, ot that they didn’t seem to have any hardships or death. But that was another movie altogether.

  • MaryAnn

    I just get tired of the dim view of humanity often presented within.

    Have you met us?

  • Accounting Ninja

    Maybe I’m a hopeless idealist, but I’d rather think us able to learn from our mistakes and get better as a species. And, for the most part, I think we have succeeded in surpassing the barbarism of our ancestors (as a whole-of course, individuals can exhibit barbarism. I don’t know if this will ever get resolved.)

    On a lighter note, WALL-E sure made me want to hit the gym! I hadn’t been going for a long time. I’m not fat, but far from where I’d like to be though, and seeing the people on WALL-E really made me appreciate my body.

  • MaryAnn

    I, too, would like to think we can learn from our mistakes and do better.

    But what I’d like and what’s real aren’t always the same things.

  • Netbug

    4 times.

    That’s how many times I’ve went to the theater and see this movie. 4 times. I think that’s the most I’ve ever gone, and I would go again. While no viewing was as powerful as the first, the 4th still had my smiling, sighing, and on the brink of tears at points.

    I am an animation geek, with dreams of working on an animated film someday as a writer. I have watched countless animated films, and I can wholeheartedly say that WALL-E is the most brilliant one I have ever seen. Heck, it’s the best film I’ve ever seen period. I have grown such an incredible love and attachment to this movie I can’t even describe it.

    This film is worth the big screen visit. Pixar always puts writing first, so you could watch this on your iPod Video and it’d still be spectacular, but it’s just so pretty and breathtaking that it’s a must see on the big screen.

  • Bradzilla

    I know I’m late to the party, but I just caught the movie over the weekend. No flames for Pen Dragon; he captured my response quite well. I was told by a friend that I would hate it because of its supposed anti-capitalistic stance. I neither liked it nor hated it – it was just “huh?”. It’s not that I didn’t “get it”; I recognized the relationships and romance, the implications of surrendering to tech and consumerism, but in the end I was fully underwhelmed by the film. I cannot understand the RT 96% Fresh rating at all.

    I know it’s a kid’s movie (or at least think it is, as opposed to this reviewer), but thought the treatment shallow and unrewarding. Then I thought, I know what would make a good children’s CG workup: Soylent Green.

  • Sean Riley

    It just came out in Australia this week – Hence my being late to the party, so I’m hoping Mary-Ann still sees all her comments. Hello, Mary-Ann!

    What struck me about the film (stuck being very much the intended word) is how punchy the film is. In the end, the message isn’t that much different from Monster’s Inc., that our society is facing collapse unless we radically change our ways, and that much of that ruin comes from our fundamentally unethical society. (There is one major difference, I’ll come back to that.)

    But Wall•E feels so angry compared to Monster’s Inc.! A few people have criticised it for being anti-American, I understand, and they’re not entirely wrong. It’s definitely anti-Western society, even if I feel it’s not aiming at American directly. It criticises our society’s overconsumption and laziness. But it is definitely anti-Republican (The phrase “Stay the course” used by the BnL president was pointed), and since there’s a lot of Republicans who’d love the two phrases to be synonymous, that’s where the criticism is coming from.

    But I do find fault with the film, and it’s an odd one.

    It lets us off the hook.

    The humans on Axiom aren’t bad people, they’re enslaved by the mechanics they’ve constructed around them. The environmental destruction and horrible world is blamed entirely on the machines. When disconnected from the screens, the humans we meet are heroic, in awe of the world, and kind. To counter Accounting Ninja’s comments, I felt Wall•E was too nice to us humans. Blaming the machinery of our society is all well and good, but frankly, I think we deserve the lion’s share of the blame. BnL president Shelby Forthright gets a little bit of that, but I felt it wasn’t enough. I kind of wish the film was more willing to accuse its audience, more willing to make them look at the over-sized plastic Wall•E cup they were drinking from during the movie (As did I, so, y’know, mea culpa), and realise, “See that? That’s the cupcake in a cup. You are the problem.”

  • Sean Riley

    Oh, and p.s. My theory on Wall•E’s sentience? He wasn’t built to be sentient, but all the robots were built on a base code from earlier robots that had some human icon recognition built in. (So that, say, a cleaning robot didn’t destroy a child’s toys when they were left on the floor.) The programmers didn’t get rid of this code but simply locked it off when they made the Wall•E units. Of course, after 700 years, there’s been software degradation; Wall•E’s gained access to some of that code due to corrupted software and it’s manifested as some kind of personality.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m hoping Mary-Ann still sees all her comments.

    I do.

    And I don’t think that the movie lets us off the hook. It places the blame for the disaster squarely on our shoulders… but it also tells us that it’s not too late to fix it.

  • Todd Gibson

    The first time I saw WallE, I thought as Sean does, until I watched the montage during the end credits, which shows the robots helping to rebuild society on earth. I thought this was as crucial a segment as any to the film’s message, and almost wish they had showed it BEFORE the credits so that more people would’ve watched it.

    Mary Ann’s right, the “blame”, if you think there is any to be found, rests with us. Not the metaphorical “us” portrayed in the film, but us now, in 2008, who, in the world of WallE, allow these things to come to be. The robots do exactly what people nowadays ostensibly want them to do; they make our lives as easy as possible. Ask anyone what the biggest problems in the world today are; I would bet that you won’t find a single one of their answers on the Axiom. The film undermines our sense of what we want out of life, makes us re-examine our desires, and shows us that hey, maybe we don’t want that after all.

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