I went and saw Wall-E tonight, and I’m actually going to write about it. (It’s been a long time since I can remember doing a movie review.) Before I start I want to mention that the short they had before the feature was quite entertaining as well. It features a magician trying to work with a unhappy rabbit, and was very well done.
First of all, the animation in Wall-E was spectacular, not in a way which “wowed” so much as it was believable and got out of the way. In other words, you didn’t think about the fact that you were watching an animated film (with the exception of the people, which were obviously caricatures). In fact, I believe there were a couple of places were real live action was used, in the messages from BnL’s CEO, but it was so seamless that I didn’t even think about it until well after the movie was finished. So I give props for the fact that the animation didn’t draw attention to itself but rather served the story.
Now, for one of my few complaints. Wall-E is obviously a task oriented robot. There is nothing to suggest any reason for it to be built with AI or to be human-like. Yet Wall-E is almost ridiculously human-like for a robot. Wall-E carries a lunch cooler to work, has a home, is a collector, listens to music (on a built-in audio player), sleeps, is curious, has a pet, and gets frightened. So yeah, it’s a movie about two robots falling in love, so they have to exhibit emotion, but these things seemed so unbelievable to me that it detracted from the early part of the movie. (As it went on I grew to just accept these things.)
What I loved most about the movie was the cultural commentary. The first is mainly humorous, in that they have a cockroach as (apparently) the last living thing on earth (after the plant and Wall-E leave). Besides that, I picked out three main points in the movie. The first is how we keep consuming more and more, until finally we can’t keep up with the stuff we’re making and buying, and so the junk takes over, piling as high as sky-scrappers.
Next, I think the film is saying something about the role that large corporations play in this. In the movie, one large corporation has taken over the planet, and has pushed for people to continue to consume more and more. It also shows some of the tactics, when a teacher is telling young children that “BnL is your best friend” and when an advertisement states, “BnL – everything you need for happiness.” Meanwhile everyone has grown fat and lazy as they only recline in their floating chairs all of the time.
Lastly, I found it interesting how all of the people in the movie were so glued to their computers and electronic devices that they were completely oblivious to the world around them. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we are already getting there. How often, when you’re in a place with other people around, are those people on their phones or listening to a portable music player, and therefore not engaging with the people around them? In these ways, I think Wall-E is like the Terminator or the Matrix. While the setting may be fictional, a lot of what the movie is saying is very true.
The final thing I want to mention is the ending. I was rather torn about it. (Spoiler warning) After Eve had repaired Wall-E, he didn’t remember “her” or seem to have any personality at all. It seemed tragic and heart breaking. Part of me wanted Wall-E to snap out of it and be perfectly back to normal. But on the other hand, part of me really wanted it to end that way, without Wall-E ever returning to being more than a machine. Maybe that sounds bad, but the reason is this: while I yearn for a happy ending on one hand, on the other hand, the tragic ending seems more real to life much of the time, and I like when a movie ditches the typical ending for one which seems more realistic.