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Author Topic: EP Review: Wall-E  (Read 17248 times)

Russell Nash

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christianaellis

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Reply #1 on: July 29, 2008, 02:43:13 PM
I would argue that the film's message is actually not anti-consumerism specifically, so much as anti-complacency. The problem was not simply a matter of consuming too much and producing too much garbage. That was incidental. The problem was an ever increasing attitude of "someone else will do it", and as the technology advanced to allow it, the humans progressively let the robots do everything. While this met their desires for immediate gratification, it stifled the creativity and fulfillment of accomplishment, producing a lifestyle that was ultimately unsatisfying, as evidenced by the boredom of the humans on the Axiom even before Wall-E starts disrupting their routines.

I felt that it paralleled my own battles with laziness versus productivity, in the sense that, on any given day, it may seem more fun or more desirable to sit and watch TV than to do something more active or creative, but I have a desire to accomplish more than that, and I know that many of those things require hard work and delayed gratification. However, if you have a society that increasingly does not make that choice, and just passively consumes instead, that is what leads to the society portrayed in the movie, not the idea of consumerism or capitalism in and of itself.

In the end credits montage, we see the robots and the humans working together, where the robots return to their originally intended function, namely to help the humans accomplish more than they ever could have alone, rather than simply allowing the humans to do nothing while the robots pamper them like babies.



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Reply #2 on: July 29, 2008, 11:01:18 PM
I agree that the switch from gritty Earth to utopian ship was a bit startling. OVerall I loved this movie. I certainly wasn't the only one. It's trumped princess movies for my 5 year old daughter. She now loves Wall-E above and beyond either Sleeping Beauty, Tink, or Ariel.  I found it sweet, a tad teeny bit preachy but good. Too bad Disney/Pixar is pointing towards lessening consumerisum with this but now there's Wall-E goods everywhere (not all recycleable, or earth friendly) for me to get.. while I'm floating in my hoverchair... talking on my cellphone... 

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Windup

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Reply #3 on: July 31, 2008, 03:27:49 AM
I agree that the switch from gritty Earth to utopian ship was a bit startling. OVerall I loved this movie. I certainly wasn't the only one. It's trumped princess movies for my 5 year old daughter. She now loves Wall-E above and beyond either Sleeping Beauty, Tink, or Ariel.  I found it sweet, a tad teeny bit preachy but good. Too bad Disney/Pixar is pointing towards lessening consumerisum with this but now there's Wall-E goods everywhere (not all recycleable, or earth friendly) for me to get.. while I'm floating in my hoverchair... talking on my cellphone... 

Yeah, I loved the movie, but the irony of one of the world's great merchandisers taking up an anti-consumerist message was not lost on me. 

And I don't buy the reviewer's gloss about "Oh, this isn't capitalism, this is like a totalitarian society..."  To the extent that's true, it just tells you they both lead to the same place; capitalism just takes a more scenic route.

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arcsine

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Reply #4 on: July 31, 2008, 04:03:06 PM
Sigh, ... eponymous ...

The reviewer gets worked up by the contrasts between earthly hues and gleaming white, then has trouble with the lack of contrast between the human characters. Pfffft. [Edit- rude, sorry. Human characters are consistently bland in this genre.]

Then he hits the panic button over the 'consumerism' issues in the film. 'Oh, No!!! Not anti-capitalism! It's really a Pro free-market conservative film! Hurray for capitalism and free market forces that will save the future!' Whew- that was close! Let's kick a dead horse(communism) for good measure, hurrah!

This takes the Philosophy Professor into very comfortable territory - making up a bland lesson that tangentially touches the issues in the film and then claiming it is the main lesson. [Edit - I think I shouldn't have written this part at all. I considered ending the critique with a tip of the hat to the difficult time I would have trying to construct a review and thanking the author for the effort. I must remember to be less of a git.]

The main lesson is about how to avoid becoming soylent green. (What do you think was in those cups?!?)
« Last Edit: July 31, 2008, 05:32:07 PM by arcsine »



eytanz

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Reply #5 on: July 31, 2008, 04:54:30 PM
Sigh, ... eponymous ...

Huh? What's eponymous?

Quote
The reviewer gets worked up by the contrasts between earthly hues and gleaming white, then has trouble with the lack of contrast between the human characters. Pfffft.

That seems like a pretty consistent viewpoint, so I'm not sure what your objection is. Or is it that you disagree? In which case, "pffft" is a rather rude way to express that.

Quote
This takes the Philosophy Professor into very comfortable territory - making up a bland lesson that tangentially touches the issues in the film and then claiming it is the main lesson.

I assume you are one of his students, then, since you seem to have previous experience with what he is comfortable with. Or are you reflecting a generic opinion of philosophy professors?

Quote
The main lesson is about how to avoid becoming soylent green. (What do you think was in those cups?!?)

All that's necessary to avoid becoming soylent green is to avoid dying. And frankly, any starship based civilization that does not recycle organic materials is rather stupid.

If you want a troubling thought - there are no old people on the Axiom. There are babies, and a lot of people who look vaguely like they are in their twenties and thirties, and possibly forties. But I didn't see a single person older than that...



arcsine

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Reply #6 on: July 31, 2008, 05:30:14 PM
Thanks eytanz,
 
   I have added edits to my post because it was rude and I must apologize. I came back to rework the part about the Philosophy Professors ... but it's just plain muck.

Honestly, I thank the author of the review for his work and appreciate it.

I disagree with the essence of it, but that can be done intelligently and I failed to do that.


Eponymous - the reviewer uses the word to describe WALL-E, I think the word is a bit heavy.

Soylent Green - isn't about recycling that occurs in nature but the direct reprocessing of human protein into foodstuff - very efficiently skipping all the deconstruction.



wintermute

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Reply #7 on: July 31, 2008, 05:57:07 PM
Eponymous - the reviewer uses the word to describe WALL-E, I think the word is a bit heavy.
Why? It's a perfectly cromulent word.

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eytanz

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Reply #8 on: July 31, 2008, 06:34:23 PM
Soylent Green - isn't about recycling that occurs in nature but the direct reprocessing of human protein into foodstuff - very efficiently skipping all the deconstruction.

Sure. And as long as you have a natural environment to recycle biostuff for us, there is no need to process human protein. But in a small, artificial biosphere like the one present on a generation starship (which the Axiom essentially is), organic matter must be a scarce resource, and it's probably not feasible to go through a whole "wait for this person to decompose and fertilize the ground so that we can grow crops there later" process (let alone anything as wasteful of both organic matter and energy as cremation).

The only reason there is anything horrifying about soylent green is because of cultural taboos, which make sense on Earth but which feasibly would have to be sacrificed to some extent if we go to the stars.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2008, 06:36:48 PM by eytanz »



arcsine

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Reply #9 on: July 31, 2008, 06:35:57 PM
Why? It's a perfectly cromulent word.
Most words scarce of synonyms seem a tad heavy to me.

Thank you wintermute. 
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eytanz

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Reply #10 on: July 31, 2008, 06:41:38 PM
Why? It's a perfectly cromulent word.
Most words scarce of synonyms seem a tad heavy to me.
Wait, if a word doesn't have synonyms, that's when it makes the most sense to use it. If a word has a simpler synonym, that's when using it can be seen as pretentious, no?

And just to clarify my original question on this matter, since I just noticed I was ambiguous - I know what "eponymous" means, but I misunderstood and thought you were saying something was eponymous, and was asking what that was. In any case, it seems to me a perfectly sensible thing to say within the context of the review, and certainly a lot less clunky than "the character in WALL-E that the movie is named after" or some other such phrasing.



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Reply #11 on: July 31, 2008, 07:43:28 PM
If you want a troubling thought - there are no old people on the Axiom. There are babies, and a lot of people who look vaguely like they are in their twenties and thirties, and possibly forties. But I didn't see a single person older than that...

Have to say I noticed that, too.  I also noticed that while there were plenty of babies around, there weren't any couples until Wall-E showed up, not in the sense that we think of them at least. 

All of which is a little creepy but kind of cool in that it adds to the sense of the layering of this world.

One small thing -- I'm kind of glad that I saw this movie before hearing this review.  The review was interesting, but I liked being surprised by so much of the plot.  I suppose that's the territory of a review, but I'm glad I found out on my own that the AI on the ship had his own directive.


Swamp

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Reply #12 on: July 31, 2008, 09:54:18 PM
I also noticed that while there were plenty of babies around, there weren't any couples until Wall-E showed up, not in the sense that we think of them at least. 

My wife and I were talking about that after the movie.  We figured they were test tube babies and there must be egg and sperm extraction robots.  As we thought about the implications of that in regards to a pleasant kids movie, we move on from that.  :)

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cuddlebug

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Reply #13 on: July 31, 2008, 10:14:18 PM
I also noticed that while there were plenty of babies around, there weren't any couples until Wall-E showed up, not in the sense that we think of them at least.

My wife and I were talking about that after the movie.  We figured they were test tube babies and there must be egg and sperm extraction robots.  As we thought about the implications of that in regards to a pleasant kids movie, we move on from that.  :)

This is a really interesting discussion and it is starting to make me want to see the film too ... yes, I am the ONE person who hasn't seen it yet, and I know I shouldn't really read what people are saying here, but the comments make me wonder who the target audience actually is supposed to be. These comments seem to point in different directions here and I assumed at first the film targeted mainly children (not sure if that has something to do with the marketing campaign or just my perception of it) but I guess I was wrong in that. I am a bit of a sceptic when it comes to Disney, not so much with Pixar of course, so I was not sure what to make of this one. Guess I will have to watch it to see what the fuss is all about.



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Reply #14 on: July 31, 2008, 10:28:47 PM
...but the comments make me wonder who the target audience actually is supposed to be...

Oh, it's definitely a children's movie, or at least aimed at kids primarily.  But it's smart enough to have a lot of different levels that make it appeal to adults and parents as much as it does kids.  Which is a really great trick, actually, and, with the exception of Cars, I'm baffled by how consistently Pixar has been able to pull it off. 


eytanz

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Reply #15 on: July 31, 2008, 10:34:10 PM
Cuddlebug - I think this movie is one of those rare movies that are really aimed at all ages, and succeeds at that. It is certainly the best movie I've seen in a long, long time.

But note that a lot of the comments above - especially the discussion of murdering old people, cannibalism, and egg/sperm extraction - are just us here enjoying some dark humor in trying to think of the realistic implications of the world depicted in the movie. None of those things are even vaguely hinted at in the movie.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2008, 10:35:58 PM by eytanz »



Swamp

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Reply #16 on: July 31, 2008, 10:45:17 PM
But note that a lot of the comments above - especially the discussion of murdering old people, cannibalism, and egg/sperm extraction - are just us here enjoying some dark humor in trying to think of the realistic implications of the world depicted in the movie. None of those things are even vaguely hinted at in the movie.

'tis true

And the fact that we are intrigued enough to think about these things points to the greatness of the movie.  Of course it has got some holes when held up to intense scrutiny, but it is not a stupid movie by any means.  The whole movie, but especially the first half, is very intricate, thoughtful, touching, and funny.

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Reply #17 on: August 01, 2008, 05:15:03 PM
This is a really interesting discussion and it is starting to make me want to see the film too ... yes, I am the ONE person who hasn't seen it yet,

Correction: You're one of at least two.

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Reply #18 on: August 01, 2008, 06:50:35 PM
Oh, it's definitely a children's movie, or at least aimed at kids primarily.  But it's smart enough to have a lot of different levels that make it appeal to adults and parents as much as it does kids.  Which is a really great trick, actually, and, with the exception of Cars, I'm baffled by how consistently Pixar has been able to pull it off. 

I had a different experience.  We took Alex to see it at a noontime showing, and I noticed that he and most of the other toddlerish kids in the audience seemed a bit bored and restless by about halfway through.  He didn't act up, but it wasn't holding him.  It was the adults who were engaged.  (Conversely, he absolutely loves Cars and wants to watch it more often than any other DVD.)

Despite the relative simplicity of its visual and plot messages, I don't think this movie was aimed at younger children.  Or if it was, it didn't hit home.  There wasn't as much dialogue or fast action as you see in other Pixar films; most of the plot is communicated through images, and you have to be able to put a lot of context together to realize that anything is happening.  That's a skill that we develop only over time.

Me, I loved it.  As an aside, the first half of the closing credits were the best credit sequence I have ever seen in any movie.  That was a story unto itself, and a really, really good one.  The striking artwork and fabulous music helped.  I was almost disappointed when they dropped the conceit and went to the Nemo-style scrolling credits with 8-bit characters interacting with the text.  It was also clever, it just wasn't genius.

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Russell Nash

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Reply #19 on: August 01, 2008, 10:11:21 PM
This is a really interesting discussion and it is starting to make me want to see the film too ... yes, I am the ONE person who hasn't seen it yet,

Correction: You're one of at least two.

::raises hand::

three



cuddlebug

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Reply #20 on: August 01, 2008, 11:38:57 PM
This is a really interesting discussion and it is starting to make me want to see the film too ... yes, I am the ONE person who hasn't seen it yet,

Correction: You're one of at least two.

::raises hand::

three

Ahem, not anymore. So now there are again TWO people left who haven’t seen it and if something like that were possible I’d ‘virtually’ kick their bum to go see it NOW.  I dragged Eytanz with me who saw it for the second time and still enjoyed it as far as I could tell.

It is an amazing movie, really moving and funny at the same time, and I have to agree with Mr Ely himself (who would ever dare disagree with him anyway), but it does not seem like a kids movie to me. The emotions, yes robots have emotions, of course, at least in the Pixar universe they do, but the emotions show in facial expressions and gestures which small children cannot depict as accurately as adults can. Actually, I think studies show that even adults have problems understanding facial expressions properly sometimes, and men do so more than women if I remember correctly.  This also reminded me of the discussion we had on the ‘humanity’ of the jellyfish aliens in ‘Family Values’. It seems we HUMANS can only relate properly to characters whose behaviors and intentions we can understand, empathise or identify with.

Anyway, it seemed obvious that children would enjoy the movie for the images alone, but not understand all the references, that make the film so intriguing for adults. Besides, it takes a lot of concentration to watch all the ‘expressions’ closely, which is necessary to understand what’s going on as there is no dialogue and I can imagine children have problems with the attention span.

BTW, I think I did see an old person, an elderly woman walking with one of those walking frames out if the spaceship when everyone sets foot on the earth again. 

Loved the ‘history of art’ credits and the 2001 soundtrack, great stuff.




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Reply #21 on: August 04, 2008, 04:05:56 PM
I wonder if the reviewer was watching the same movie as me. When he said "the eco-message is not domineering or heavy handed" I had to comment. I consider this to be 'An Inconvienent Truth' in animated form. The eco-message hits you over the head. I would not have minded so much the message of the trash if they had not also thrown in the message about being lazy and overweight. Both of these together just made it too much.
I could not get into Wall-E as a character. He was just a machine running around making beeping noises. The robot from Short Circuit talked and you could get to know him but Wall-E really had no personality.
The cartoonishness of the people on the ship really took me out of the story. Would have been better if they had used live actors.
I think that small children might like the characters but most adults would get bored very quickly.



eytanz

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Reply #22 on: August 04, 2008, 04:47:10 PM

I think that small children might like the characters but most adults would get bored very quickly.

Empirical evidence - i.e. the reaction of most actual moviegoers - shows that this is not true; while I don't doubt that some adults find it boring, I think most adults love it.



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Reply #23 on: August 04, 2008, 04:56:57 PM
I wonder if the reviewer was watching the same movie as me. When he said "the eco-message is not domineering or heavy handed" I had to comment. I consider this to be 'An Inconvienent Truth' in animated form. The eco-message hits you over the head. I would not have minded so much the message of the trash if they had not also thrown in the message about being lazy and overweight. Both of these together just made it too much.
But they weren't together. The "environmental" problems happen on Earth, and the laziness/obesity doesn't become a factor until several centuries later. The only link between the two is that, had Earth remained habitable, people would not have had the option to have all their needs taken care of by robots. And, when they return to Earth, the humans are redeemed.

And I don't think the environmental issue was intended to be anything more than a reason to get everyone off the planet. It wasn't global warming, or pollution, or ozone depletion, or deforestation that was the problem; it was littering. People had thrown out so much trash that the planet was literally uninhabitable. I'm pretty sure that they were deliberately staying away from real environmental disasters because it's not really important what happened; it's only important that EVE is sent to find out if it's gotten better.

I could not get into Wall-E as a character. He was just a machine running around making beeping noises. The robot from Short Circuit talked and you could get to know him but Wall-E really had no personality.
This appears to be a minority opinion. Certainly, the vast majority of the (packed) cinema in which I saw it had no problem emphasising with WALL-E.

The cartoonishness of the people on the ship really took me out of the story. Would have been better if they had used live actors.
I disagree. They used live actors for the pre-exodus humans, to excellent effect. But a Bedknobs and Broomsticks style movie with live action and animation competing against each other can get far more distracting.

And besides, the humans on the Axiom were cartoonish. The style of artwork, if anything, emphasised this. The progression from real person to cartoon was shown beautifully in the captains portrait gallery.

I think that small children might like the characters but most adults would get bored very quickly.
Except that that is not waht the numbers show.

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Darwinist

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Reply #24 on: August 04, 2008, 05:11:50 PM
I think that small children might like the characters but most adults would get bored very quickly.

The adults that posted on the Wall-E thread in Science Fiction discussion all liked the movie. 

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