Reviews: Wall E

Cute and charming, but deep and thoughtful; a great sci-fi story.

This film is endlessly charming and yet shockingly thoughtful and well-crafted. If not for the very visual nature of the story, this would make a fantastic classic sci-fi novel.

The beauty of this film is by and large (or perhaps Buy "N" Large) its mastery of visual storytelling. The majority of the film lacks dialogue, or at least complex sentences, but we get just enough information and then the movie lets its less verbal stars shine. The animation is stunning, with a largely realistic style that I almost feel is marred by the cartoonish humans, but it's still gorgeous. The robots all have brilliant designs that allow them to move in human ways beyond their mechanical intentions, and there's just so much personality. Gorgeous and sweet.

The premise is that long after Earth has been turned into an unlivable landfill and evacuated, one solitary cleanup robot is still functioning and displays an innocent sentience. The animation for WALL-E is fantastic, giving us a utilitarian machine with lots of humanlike personality, and we see how overwhelmingly futile his existence is, being the only robot left to clean the planet. He doesn't seem to notice, and he is more interested in human trinkets and romance. All of this is beautifully communicated without the need for dialogue, and what little is there could be removed fairly easily.

WALL-E meets EVE, a utilitarian, high-tech probe sent down to Earth to find life. WALL-E gets in the way of her mission and falls in love, and follows her back to the Axiom starship, the new home for humanity, where devolution has reduced them to giant babies for lack of ever needing to walk. Romance and adventure intersect when the plan to return the humans to Earth goes awry and the two robots have to save each other and the world.

The two main characters are so brilliantly displayed despite minimal speech. WALL-E is curious and timid, a hopeless romantic with deep empathy. EVE is wary and efficient, focused on her task, before she begins to learn more and understand that other things are important. The way they in turn sacrifice their interests for each other at the end is very sweet, and the ending is powerful, even though these two have never spoken a complete sentence. The film is so skilled, they never need to.

There are tons of other excellent sci-fi and general storytelling devices, too, especially with John and Mary.

This movie is very ambitious, but very successful. It tells a complex story with few spoken words, and also offers some commentary on the world we inhabit and what might be done for it. Watch or rewatch it, because it's fantastic.

Please Don't Flame Me

What the hell did I miss exactly? I'm gonna be honest, I believe that this film is overrated to the point of being depressing. Why? (I'm not gonna explain the backstory here to save space.)

I mean, the first half of the movie had almost no dialogue. Nothing to explain what the hell was going on. I would've shouted expletives from my seat if I wasn't so freakin' bored. Why was Wall-E in love with this killing machine, anyway? Why is she killing? I figured it out AFTER I saw it in theaters, but isn't that a mark of a bad movie? No kid is gonna put two and two together. You know, kids? The target audience? Then again, they were probably thinking, "OOH CGI SPECIAL EFFECTS ANIMATION ME LIKE" anyway.

But the second part is where the movie flat out insulted my intelligence. The people on the ship are all fat slobs that sit in hover-chairs and use little mini-computers. THIS is what Pixar thinks of humanity, people. Holy. Fucking. Shit. "Yeah, Take That, people who throw money at us mainly because of our cutting-edge technology!" Hil-fucking-larious.

Not only that, but this movie basically hammered, pounded, warped, and dropped a freaking nuke on me with its Green Aesop. I. GET. IT. Pollution is bad. Being a fat, lazy slob is bad. Just end the movie and we'll preach John Lasseter's message already. Also this movie carries an obvious hate for big business. In a Disney film.

By the way, I like how a single plant can survive in a trashed atmosphere like that. And how people can breathe the toxic dust without dying.

The worst part yet, however, is a full 5-minute sequence where WALL-E and EVE dance in space together, and there are little sparks flying all over the place, and this nice little charming music, and THERE'S NO FREAKING SOUND IN SPACE, and...oh, God, I'm bored. This scene fit every negative stereotype about Disney pandering to kids with little happy, joyful scenes of padding. I slumped over in my seat and just gave what Todd In The Shadows calls "the bitter, 'I give up' kind of laughter".

If you're gonna criticize me, you have every right. I won't fire back in anger. I'm pretty sure I may have made a mistake somewhere. But this is what I think. After Cars, my favorite Pixar movie of all time, this was a letdown of epic proportions to me.

An Unambiguously Positive Review

This movie is a modern classic by virtually every metric. It is a rare "family" picture; neither inaccessible for children nor too stupid for adults to enjoy. It succeeds as work of science fiction, examining themes of how technology affects our way of life, as a film, using pure visual storytelling as its strongest narrative tool, and as a simple but resonant story in its own right.

The characters are all well-sketched. Wall-E himself proves that a children's character doesn't have to be designed from the ground up to be cute and lovable. Eve is, like Woody or other complex Pixar heroes, a shaded person, capable of great loyalty, but also possessed of a quick temper and a tendency to judge too quickly and harshly. Sure, the humans are all lazy and fat in the beginning, but they are also still human, able to move on and become better than they begin.

And, really, I feel the film's themes and messages are more nuanced than the film's harshest critics act. The point of the film is not some half-coherent ramble about the evils of technology and pollution. That's not to say that those things aren't a part of the point, but, more-broadly, it's about stagnation versus change. Wall-E survives his countless fallen brethren because he has developed beyond his original programming. Eve succeeds in her mission for the same reasons, befriending Wall-E and defying orders to do the right thing. The humans aboard the Axiom all prove that they don't want or need to remain metaphorical children forever. And the closest things to villains that the film has are villains because they choose sullen satisfaction with a status quo over moving forward. That's why the ending works: showing progress and evolution through the medium of art.

Plus, rather than show technology as some nefarious force destructive to the human soul, a la Star Trek: Insurrection, Wall-E gives it an even grade. Sure, technology has the potential to turn us all into lazy trolls, but it also plays a vital role in keeping us alive. And, rather than a reductive Robot War, humans and machines at the end of the film live together in harmony, rebuilding society into something better.

Wall-E is a modern classic of the genre and the medium, a feast for the eyes and a treat for the mind.

Big, beautiful and boring

Unlike most Pixar fans, WALL-E isn't one of my favourite Pixar films. It's a decent movie of course, and I can understand why so many people love it to death, but to me, it has just one huge positive aspect, and a lot more lesser negative ones. The huge positive aspect is of course the animation. It is so monumental that it boggles the mind to think that humans can actually achieve such perfection in this field. A large number of scenes in this movie are virtually photographic, saturated with brilliantly innovative colour and detail. This is pure eye candy, and I mean seriously good eye candy - not the kind you enjoy for a while and then forget about as soon as the movie's over, but eye candy that sticks in the mind forever. I will never forget how good WALL-E's animation is.

It's just a shame that these exceptional graphics weren't used on a more enjoyable movie. Okay, a lot of people liked this movie - it's hailed as a modern classic - but I can honestly say that it wasn't to my taste. It's a feast for the eyes, yes, but the film's plot is a slow-moving, repetitive, pretentious snoozefest that is so predictably preachy that the opening shots of the movie instantly declare the ending. As soon as we see those awesome garbage skyscrapers in a dystopian version of Earth, we know that the film will end with Earth being restored to normal. It's not a spoiler, because it's just so obvious. Thankfully, the ending is done well, with a great original song by prog rock maestro Peter Gabriel put into the credits.

WALL-E himself is likable enough. He's cute, confused and has developed an adoration for human culture ("He's ruining the soup!"), longing to actually see humans in the flesh. And we get to. But for me, seeing the humans on the Axiom, and watching WALL-E and tomboyish female robot companion EVE zoom around it, got tiresome quite quickly. Their objective is simple: Put a plant into some machine that forces the Axiom spaceship to speed right back to Earth. And it really wasn't much fun for me to watch, because it's just so boring and simplistic. The humans aboard the ship are a bunch of worthless, obese slobs, so it's hard to care about them, and WALL-E and EVE's lovey-dovey subplot didn't interest me. Despite featuring some of the greatest animation in the history of cinema, WALL-E is a tale that I rarely feel the need to revisit.

Good, but a film that limited itself.

I enjoyed WALL-E, but I think it could have been better if it had just decided to take its time a little more. The movie went at a pretty quick pace, which caused it to zoom past some of its best moments in its hurry to keep up with the plot.

For instance, the time spent on Earth was very brief. We get the first day where we see WALL-E work, EVE arrives on the same day, they meet up in the evening, she shuts down and they're both gone a day later. But I had enjoyed the Earth parts the best, because they were simpler, and the setting was more fascinating, with lots of relics, and ripe for exploring the ruins of humanity. Compare the Axiom, which pretty much looked like the same white walls everywhere inside. There may have been some cooler stuff in the ship, but again the plot shot right past them.

The latter half of the film also felt like it degenerated into a chase. Looks like it's now time to go to Earth. Whups, the evil AUTO is putting obstacles everywhere to keep you from doing that. Time to go through all the obstacles. Dash, punch, lift, off switch, etc. The earlier parts of the film had a lot more depth to them, but since the objective now was so simple, the obstacle course of the film's second half felt far too shallow.

The film also left A LOT of plot holes that I thought it would cover, but never addressed. How did WALL-E develop a personality? Okay, the trailer implies a long period of gradual conditioning, but the film never says that. It's also never explained for EVE or MO as well. Why did they get personalities, but others like the police bots didn't? Just tipping the Axiom a bit makes everyone slide? Why would the ship's gravity work that way? Why is Directive A113 still letting probes be sent? Just one non-human plant means a whole host of humans can now survive there? Why are satellites still in orbit? Why does WALL-E not lose power except when it's plot convenient? And why does Directive A113, which believes that Earth is uninhabitable, require suppressing all evidence that Earth is habitable even though said plan going into action would mean THAT EARTH IS HABITABLE? This sort of plot glossing over carried over to Up as well, and severely diminishes the film's quality.

There was still plenty of good things, like WALL-E's pluckiness. I just wish the film hadn't limited them.

One of Pixar's Best

Beautiful would be the last word that comes to mind when describing Earth in 2805. However, its the first word that comes to mind when describing WALL-Es breathtaking animation. Pixar utilizes its animation prowess to great extent, especially with the colours. The contrasting environments of the Axiom and planet Earth go to show the varying extremes of life in the future. WALL-E uses the characters and its surroundings to highlight many issues of modern day society and the path were headed down.

Pixar manages to convey large amounts of emotion with WALL-E, no part in thanks to its romance in slow-burn. Never before has a company managed to make viewers feel so much for machines. WALL-E takes some risks that make it an atypical animated film, the largest one of all being the limited amount of lines, with the film going for dozens of minutes without anything being said. Instead, Pixar uses facial expressions (yes, of robots) in addition to the few lines that are said, to convey emotion.

WALL-E couples a well-written story and gorgeous animation with a well-thoughtout score to reaffirm its meaning. It also utilizes parallelism, contrast, and reoccurring themes to support its main elements. All of this wraps up well, with WALL-E striking a balance in setting, time, and audience.

Pixar, once again, shows us how to truly make animated films. WALL-E conveys strong messages to viewers but doesnt fail to keep the family entertained.

Wall-E: Teaching Humans How To Be Human

I'm surprised to see that the two reviews for this film are quite negative. Hopefully, this review can provide a different perspective on the film and open new dimensions to the way people see the film.

The film has a few themes going on, such as environmentalism, romance, etc... But, fundamentally, the main theme in this story is finding our humanity. It explores what it means to be human, about finding the essence of your soul.

Wall-E basically is a robot who found purpose in his existence. Even though he has his "directive", which is cleaning up the Earth, we see that he is genuinely interested in the world around him. He explores the massive piles of junk, looking for even more of what his world has to offer. Robots exist because they are made to, but Wall-E exists because he WANTS to.

In contrast, the humans have desensitized themselves from their world. Their eyes are not their human eyes, but the screens in front of them. The big Bn L advertisment voices think for them, the computers work for them. They simply go through the motions of living, and they do not realise what joys are around them (they do not even realise there is a pool right under their noses).

Over the course of the movie, Wall-E helps to open the human's eyes and help them realize there is a universe out there waiting for them, and there is more to the world around us than what the latest fashion gives. He frees people not through violence, but through the honesty of his soul. He shows people that having a fulfilling life isn't having fancy luxuries, but being nice to people out of the goodness of your heart (or CPU).

This is basically what made Wall-E an absolutely superb story. Even though there are many standout things about the film like the visuals, the animation, the cinematography, what was at the core was fundamentally human, and that is ultimately what reaches out of the theatre screen and touches hearts.

My Infamous Opinions.

Big businesses and technology are destroying our lives and cutting us off from all human contact. Fair enough, but then why is a company so ruthlessly monomaniacal as Disney telling us this with the medium of a computer-generated movie that is entirely reliant on spectacle and stars a personality-free Number Five clone? Along the way, we get cheap shots at how technology is making us all fat, which would normally just be whiny and annoying, except that the film can't even commit to that; we're still required to sympathize with this God-damned CG robot.

This movie probably isn't aiming for comedy - which is good, because the only times I laughed were when I was reminded of a different, funnier movie I'd rather be watching (Space Mutiny, for example) - but it can't exactly be touching either with protagonists this unsympathetic and devoid of any characterization. It's like being asked to care about the moral plight of a sofa. I expected more from Pixar than a fight to the death with a cheap HAL 9000 ripoff.