A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 141 – WALL-E

WALL-E – July 19th, 2010

This is going to become a boring refrain from me, I know, but this was another overhype victim. I didn’t see it in the theater and by the time it was out on DVD I swear I’d been told I had had had had had to see this oh my fucking god I had to see it it’s the most amazing thing ever made and I would be blown away by how stupendously amazing it is! No movie should have to live up to that. Especially when I asked one of the last people to try and sell it to me “So, what’s it about?” “Oh,” they said. “I don’t want to try and describe it. I’d ruin it for you.” Yeah, thanks. That does not entice me to watch something.

I should probably get over the overhype thing, but I’m serious. No movie should have to compare to the reviews people will give it when they’re trying to sell it. Of course, this was a lovely and clever and interesting movie and I enjoyed it thoroughly, but it did not make me find religion. I will say, it did a very nice job of showing how both humanity and technology have good and bad sides. You could go claiming that there’s an anti-tech message, what with the evil Auto and the Axiom residents’ thorough dependence on machinery, but then Auto and the Axiom itself were built and set up to do just what they were doing by humans. And it’s WALL-E and EVE who both have the means for the human race to return to Earth and display the will to make sure it happens. So it’s really very even-handed, with an optimistic slant on both sides.

Anyhow, the movie is a sort of post-apocalyptic redemption starring two little robots in love. WALL-E is a tiny little trash compactor living on Earth 800 years in the future and working every day to pick up the mountains of trash and… do something. It’s been building towers. You get the idea that it’s been doing this for a very long time. Apparently it was once just one of many WALL-E units, but seems now to be the only one left functioning. It makes its little blocks, builds all day, collects interesting things and goes home at night to a big garbage truck where it lives with its pet cockroach. Until EVE arrives on a probe, looking for viable plant life. Which it finds, but only after WALL-E’s totally smitten and they both end up heading back up to the ship humanity left Earth on 800 years ago, the Axiom, which was paid for and run by Buy-N-Large, which seems to have been the genesis of much of the mess on Earth. And by now all the humans on the ship are just complacent lumps, content to ride their hover chairs around the ship, playing virtual golf without moving and doing pretty much nothing all day long while the ship exists around them, fulfilling their every need. Only a viable plant sample from Earth will send the ship back home. But of course there’s a catch so we’ve got an excuse for a robot rebellion and some callbacks to 2001.

Now, at the heart of the movie is the love story between WALL-E and EVE. I can’t help but think back to some of the hype when the movie came out and how it turned from hype into a debate over the genders of WALL-E and EVE. Now, going on the fact that the voices, such as they are, were a male voice actor for WALL-E and a female voice actor for EVE, I’d say that does it for me. But then again, they’re robots. They might well have some gendered qualities, but as far as I’m concerned, I say make your own decisions. I kind of like the idea of two genderless creatures falling in love. And the movie goes to great lengths to make it quite clear that these two do indeed care very deeply about each other. They risk so much, not just to get humans back to Earth, but to stay together and stay functional. It’s a sweet story, and while there is dialogue in the movie, and both WALL-E and EVE do speak, their dialogue specifically is very limited. They say each other’s names and a select few other words, like “directive” but for the most part their relationship is demonstrated through visuals. It makes those names, and how they say them, all the more meaningful.

On the upper level of the movie there’s the story about humanity, and how it left Earth one big landfill, jetting off to the stars on an extended vacation in the hopes that robots would fix the mess in the interim. Humanity is portrayed as complacent here. Willing to consume and consume and consume while being easily led. It’s an environmental message, and a nasty one really. The garbage won’t just go away. 800 years later and it’s all still there, just in somewhat neater piles. Sort of. Some of it anyhow. The complacency is what I find really hideous. And sadly accurate. But like I said, the movie does definitely have an optimistic slant. Sure, things are bad, but there’s always hope so long as someone’s willing to break out of the pack.

One might think the two stories don’t mesh well, but really, they do. It’s nice to see a movie do something a little different. That being said, let’s face it, there’s a lot of little references. I know the robot noises were done by one of the voice actors, but there were more than a few that heavily reminded me of some of the droids in Star Wars. Not all the time, and not any one in particular more than any other, but every so often I’d hear a beep or boop and think “I’ve heard that…” There are little things that are cute references to robotics from all over. And I suspect this was accidental, but I did find myself thinking of the video game Portal several times. Specifically, I was reminded of the turret voices from the game. The feel of Earth at the beginning reminded me heavily of the game Fallout 3, with the landscape full of trash and ruins and the music in the background. This isn’t a complaint. Rather it’s high praise, as I love and adore that game and felt the atmosphere was hugely engaging. There’s just something about hearing music from a past time while seeing the ruins of the future.

I am glad I finally saw this. Like I said, it didn’t provide any epiphanies for me, and it didn’t make me cry until the credits (which were beautifully done). If I’d watched it right after all the hype I think I would have felt cheated. But it was sweet, and sad, and beautiful, and ugly, and hopeful, all at the same time. And that’s really all I want to ask of a movie like this.

July 19, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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