Wall to wall empty cans

WALL-E was enjoyable enough, but it isn’t brilliant. It does its thing well- the futuristic world is wonderful realised with exquisite detail and the film manages to work well with very little dialogue (but if I want to watch a silent movie I’d probably watch one, or perhaps ‘Hush’ the “silent movie” episode of Buffy).

Maybe it’s because I’m not the world’s biggest fan of sci-fi that I wasn’t enamoured with the film, WALL-E basically cinematically realises the drab rusty colours that I associate with the draining nature of a lot of sci-fi (like when I was reading Dune).

The character WALL-E was endearing and sweet; his curiosity was charming as was his hoarding instinct. I understand that this is supposed be a relatively fluffy family film, but I don’t think that that ought to absolve it of the duty to create a believable plot. Why did (this) WALL-E survive when the others didn’t? Is it because he scavenges and thus has spare parts and enough knowledge to keep himself running longer? If so, why not make this explicit? Why are certain robots (WALL-E and later EVE) able to exercise free choice whereas most others cannot? What is it that allows these robots to be sentient and act in a relatively human way? If WALL-E was affected by what humans left behind on Earth to that extent I want to know how andwhy. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t really buy the idea of sentient robots anyway.
The whole romance angle was kind of weak in my opinion. I understand that it’s supposed to be fantastical, but somehow familial fish and ogres in love seem easier to swallow than robots staring into each other’s visors. I know that the film was just trying to be sweet and whimsical, but it just seemed stupid to me. I also think I might have liked the romance between WALL-E and EVE a lot more if the robots didn’t have these oddly gendered personalities- why is EVE so feminine? EVE’s destructo-gal role was pretty fun though. I did really like the fact that nobody was able to pronounce anyone else’s “name” correctly, and there were some nice little touches when WALL-E was trying to entertain EVE such as the Rubik’s cube and the light bulb. Whilst I liked the nostalgic film and music that WALL-E favoured I felt that they were odd choices. All the humans left Earth around 2100, so I doubt that WALL-E would find a lot of VCRs and jazz. I felt that the film was consciously trying to evoke the audience’s idea of the nostalgic past, which creates the desired effect but doesn’t hold true to the story. I think a more interesting version of this story wouldn’t feel so human or accessible, but probably wouldn’t be box office gold. I’d like it a lot more though.

WALL-E’s inbuilt music system was pretty cool. I would have no compunction about becoming a cyborg if I’d get a (large) mp3 player fitted inside my head, it would save all the hassle of fiddling with headphones. The people/cyborgs/robots/whatevers of the future are going to have sucha cool time, as long as anyone lives that long- which actually this film made me doubt.

When WALL-E hands EVE his treasure, a plant he found growing amidst the rubbish, she seizes it because her directive is to find evidence of life on Earth. WALL-E is obviously concerned by her randomly shutting down and lovingly guards her through freak weather conditions until the ship comes to collect her. That was all pretty sweet, but I think that he could have saved himself a lot of hassle by not hanging out in the rain and snow. Also WALL-E’s obsession with EVE seems a little bit disturbing if you think about it. Their relationship begins with him skulking about following her, and watching her asleep. Once he gets his plant inside her (that sentence started out a lot cruder!) she completely shuts down and turns into nothing more than a receptacle of gestation. Add to this EVE’s egg-like shape and her treatment as a hospital patient once she gets to Earth it really seems as if WALL-E accidentally knocked her up without no ring to produce future little MCs WALL-Es pizza plants (did I mention that I love Sarah Jones?). Their ‘relationship’ continues for an unspecified amount of time during which he ogles her while she’s comatose and gropes her hand which is apparently something very special for robots. It just feels like something of a violation, and I’m glad that his hand got trapped and hurt when he did it, ha.

The robots on the ship appeared to be far more obedient than WALL-E, which is a little weird because they’ve spent far more time around humans than he has. I loved the OCD robot who was frantically trying to clean up the foreign contaminants WALL-E was leaving everywhere. I would really think that a futuristic ship would have a better security system than the one it had, it took them ages to track down WALL-E and EVE after they’d been designated ‘rogue’. I don’t really understand why ‘ill’ robots were kept around, why not just destroy them? Also it had secretly been decided that returning to Earth would not be possible, so why were the probes still sent to look for life on Earth? Surely that could have been faked perfectly well?

I liked the idea of the fat, useless future-people who are so consumerist and lazy that they’re incapable of paying attention to what’s around them. I definitely agreed with the idea that these people wouldn’t be aware of WALL-E or find his presence weird, because they’re all basically drones anyway. However I think the decision to make all these-future people American and mostly white was bizarre. In a live action movie there can be casting issues, but in an animated movie it’s quite easy to portray the statistical probability that in the future most people will be caramel coloured (at least The Matrix got that right). Also since everyone seemed physically incapable of making babies perhaps a cursory explanation for their existence could have been made. No explanation of this new human society was given- it appeared to be just as consumerist and overrun by the huge Buy n Large corporation but I don’t understand how this corporation was making money off of them. Nobody appeared to have jobs or do anything, perhaps the corporation just enjoyed controlling people for the sake of it? Perhaps everyone who came onboard initially was incredibly wealthy, and their descendants are able to live off of this somehow (would there still be banks, interest, investment?), in which case I want to know what happened to the poor people- did they remain on Earth to end up crushed by the WALL-Es? I don’t understand how the ship had enough fuel to power a 700 year flight, if it was manufacturing it’s own fuel or something then I want a brief mention at least.

Although the plant that WALL-E found seemed to be incredibly resilient, it lasted a pretty long time without water and only a little soil as well as getting tossed about a lot, I don’t see that the presence of one little weed means that life on Earth is automatically sustainable again. There was an awful lot of work which needed doing, not least somehow removing all the waste products littered across the Earth. If nobody could do something about it 700 years ago I don’t understand what there brave new plan was. I really wouldn’t give humanity good odds on survival on a planet without any evidence of sustainable life and freak weather conditions including devastating sand storms, especially since they didn’t have a decent understanding of farming and thought they’d be able to grow fully formed pizzas. If the planet had been devoid of plant life for 700 years I would assume that the atmosphere had changed and there was no longer enough oxygen for humans to survive. If humans have adapted to subsist on nitrogen or if they succeeded in terraforming the planet incredibly quickly that needs to be made obvious, rather than leaving plot holes large enough for WALL-E to easily dump all the trash into. Quite frankly I’d rather watch Firefly.

There were far too many little inconsistencies all over the place which weren’t a big deal but grated on my nerves. When the humans who WALL-E had succeeded in waking up splashed water at one of the robots they electrocuted it, yet the water apparently had no effect on their hoverchairs. I don’t understand how WALL-E was able to avoid falling in space when he wasn’t being aided by EVE or his fire extinguisher. I don’t understand where the Captain and some of the other humans suddenly developed an ability to walk! Etc, etc, etc…

One thing that I did quite like was the Captain’s longing to go “home” to Earth, a desire which he managed to wake in the other people too. I’m listening to Sloop John B right now which feels especially appropriate! They wanted to a return to a home that they’d never known, and I think that the importance of this national, or in this case potentially international, aspect of identity is pertinent. Although humanity on this ship didn’t constitute a dispersed group I’d still characterise them as a diaspora I think, as they clearly exhibited most of the characteristics.

Overall I didn’t think that it was a bad film, it just wasn’t anything overly amazing and I can’t quite understand why it got such enthusiastic reviews. I suppose I’m also just not really in the mood for loveable well-meaning characters who bumble around trying to do the right thing at the moment, the magician in the short animation ‘Presto’ also got on my nerves for being stupid. I think I actually laughed more at the PIXAR title with the overly-energetic lamp squishing the ‘I’ (which I’ve seen plenty of times before) than I did at it. WALL-E‘s end credits were exceptionally buff I have to say, but it’s not a good sign that they might have been my favourite part of the film.

2 thoughts on “Wall to wall empty cans

  1. Pingback: Sun-dazed « Pop Culture Playpen

  2. Pingback: The Sunday Express « Pop Culture Playpen

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