Friday, July 4, 2008

Movie Review - Disney Pixar's WALL-E

I took my son to see Disney Pixar's new movie, WALL-E, this morning. It was an entertaining movie, but I have to say that I am disappointed. To me, the movie seemed to be marketed as a children's movie, which it definitely is not. Not there's really anything inappropriate in the movie.

It's just the theme, really. It's not a children's theme. This is the most political movie I have seen in quite some time. And what, for me, makes it worse is that it's covertly political. The message of the movie is deeply political. Watch this video promo, then read on, if you don't mind a few SPOILERS BELOW THE VIDEO.

Direct video link.

Imagine, if you will, if the CEO of the largest company in the world (which, in reality, is Walmart, but in WALL-E is Buy-N-Large), was also the leader of the free world. And, because of the power this one CEO has, and the power of his company (BnL), everything you see everywhere you look is BnL. And as this CEO/Leader of the free world and his company continue to promote and hock their wares, with no real concern for the impact on the environment, the world becomes cluttered with trash. Cluttered with trash so badly, in fact, that BnL creates a spaceship called Axiom and evacuates the entire population deep into space, to a luxury space liner, where they can escape the devastation of the Earth.

While the entire population is living on the spaceship Axiom for over 700 years, little robots called WALL-Es (Waste Allocation Load Lifting Earth-clearer), who have only one task: to compact the trash on the Earth and prepare it for removal to space.

Enter WALL-E, the only remaining unit still in operation. And he has developed a personality. An attitude. He has built towers of trash blocks, and collected the choicest trash treasures for himself. He shares a trash collection barge with his pet cockroach, and lives out a meager existence on a globe all his own. Until the day that his world is disrupted when a rocketship lands, dispatches an EVE (Earth Vegetation Evaluator), which has the sole purpose of finding live vegetation on Earth.

WALL-E falls for EVE, and offers her as a gift the very first plant he has ever discovered on the planet. She immediately scans the plant for life, seizes it, and shuts down, activating a beacon that notifies the home ship that she has discovered live vegetation.

When the rocketship returns to collect EVE, WALL-E hates to see his new love disappear, and he hitchhikes a ride on the ship, leaving his faithful pet cockroach behind. When WALL-E finds himself aboard the Axiom, where EVE is scanned and the plant is to be turned over to the Captain of the ship, he fears for EVEs safety, and chaos ensues.

We learn that the Captain of the ship has orders from the BnL CEO -- who is surely long gone by now and has left his instructions in video form -- to return to Earth and recolonize the plant upon the discovery of live vegetation. The Captain and all of the inhabitants of the Axiom, descendants of the original evacuees. None of them know anything about Earth. They have lived out their entire existence on the Axiom, riding around the ship in mobile chairs that eliminate any need they might have to actually walk on their own. They eat every meal from a cup through a straw, and communicate through holographic screens that hover in front of their faces. And every single one of them -- including the Captain -- is morbidly obese.

We learn later that, in addition to the orders the Captain received from the BnL CEO, the ship's Autopilot -- an autonomous computer system -- has also received orders. These orders are that Autopilot is to assume total command of the ship and, under no circumstances, are they to return to Earth, because the waste removal program has failed and the Earth will be forever uninhabitable.

Too make a long story short (too late, I know), the Captain overpowers Autopilot, and everyone returns to Earth. They recolonize and begin the process of renewing the Earth. Happy ending, right?

Except politics is deeply involved in this movie. Can you figure out the political messages I was referring to? How about these:
First, we must take care of the Earth. At one point in the movie, this is clearly meant to be a major message of the film. The Captain waters the plant after seeing a leaf fall off it. He then says to the plant, "See, all you needed was for someone to take care..." then looks away at a large screen with images of the pre-evacuation Earth. Nothing subtle there.

I believe there's also the message about how corporate dominance can negatively impact not only the Earth, but also society. Not to mention the impact on the very concept of Democracy as the corporate world breeds the future leaders of the world.

And then there's the message of how the human race has become a fast paced, throw away society. We want everything fast, no matter what the cost. Not just the cost to Earth, but to ourselves. Obesity is at an all time high right now, and that's no surprise with four fast food joints at every intersection.

Is that enough of a political message for you? I honestly thought my son didn't enjoy the movie, but as it ended he said, "I love that movie." I'm still not sure if it was the movie he loved, or going to the movies with Dad that he loved.

Nevertheless, this is a very interesting and entertaining film, but if you're easily offended politically, you might want to skip this one. And I'm not sure I would have taken my son to it if I had received an honest representation about it from the studio rather than the one they marketed to me. That, actually, is what disturbed the most about the film.

Your comments?



patrick said...

Wall-E totally looks like the robot from "Short Circuit"... minus the cheesy 80's style

hanum said...

nice movie, good animation technology used.

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