Wall-E The Movie
As with the previous film reviews Wall-E has some mixed themes, making the movie nearly hypocritical. However, there is enough positive elements in order to earn Three Stars.
The movie begins with a picture of earth after all the humans have left. Sky scrappers are abandoned, and at first look it appears large rock formations have actually been sculpted by the winds and rains of time to tower over the buildings. However, on a closer examination, these rock formations are actually towers of human garbage that have been neatly compacted into cubes by Wall-E, a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class robot. The film then begins to follow Wall-E who used to work in the company of other Wall-E's, but they all malfunctioned. Now, it is just Wall-E, going about loading, lifting, and allocating waste on Earth. The movie then begins to follow Wall-E as he wheels through garbage, garbage towers, and abandoned buildings. One of these is an enormous store called Buy n' Large (BnL), which is like a BJ's/Wal Mart kind of store. Every product is made by BnL. There are hundreds of BnL billboards, even one on the moon advertising BnL outlet stores coming soon. However, that day did not come soon enough because, as a perpetually active video billboard advertises, all humans had to reserve there space on the BnL space ship, Axiom, so they could leisurely spend the next five years in space while the Wall-E's cleaned up all the garbage. In the same time, and later in the film, Shelby Forthright (Fred Willard), CEO of BnL also appears to be the president, meaning that BnL is the free market and the government.
Obviously, it is no good to have the government and business so intertwined; however, this is the first place the film is unclear, and it begins to develop the first theme-mixing hypocrisy. All the garbage and BnL everywhere is clearly trying to cast man in a bad light. Man is wasteful, uncleanly, complacent with one buying option, and irrationally selfish or voracious like an animal. Yeah, yeah, I have heard it all before, and all before I have pointed out why this is nonsense. This man-is-bad-theme will be contracted later in the film. However, the BnL-government relation is more confusing. Since big business is being depicted poorly, I am assuming the scenario is that BnL took over the government, or maybe more appropriately, "greedily bought it out because all it wants is money." However, as I see it, the very opposite could have occured. The government could have nationalized BnL. This is never explained, and it leaves me confused as to what the theme is. Each scenario purports a completely different moral theme. Since it is unclear, the purpose of the movie is unclear. However it does not stop there.
As I already explained, the movie poorly depicts big business, selfishness, man in general. However, this movie was released by Pixar, which is owned by Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. That is the company that makes ipods, itunes, iphones, laptops, and a whole bunch of other really cool technological stuff that man's mind has been able to create and which is now mass produced by big business. Furthermore, Wall-E has his own ipod in the movie, and the other robot EVE, looks like an ipod. So, just how anti-man and anti-big-business can Wall-E be? Obviously, man and big business cannot be that vicious since both of those produced the movie. Therefore, the film's anti-man and anti-big-business message could not have been released without man and big business. If one needs the elements one is attacking in order to make the attack, the attack is probably unsound. For a simplistic example, if one identifies bananas as vicious, but needs a bunch of bananas to throw at bunch of bananas, the bananas cannot be vicious. A better example may be identifying Nazis as evil and arguing they must be destroyed. However, then one raises his own Nazi army to destroy the Nazis. They cannot be both vicious and then used for virtue. This is utter hypocrisy.
However, the theme become even more mixed when EVE, an Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator arrives. Obviously, that word vegetation means the environment is involved. Apparently, the humans have been in space for 700 years, and can only return when there are plants on Earth. That is why then send down EVE's. Wall-E discovers a plant earlier in the film, and shows it to EVE when she arrives. EVE then returns to the Axiom. Wall-E follows because he is so madly in love with EVE. While on the Axiom, the audience finally sees what man has been reduced to. Obese, boneless blobs, perpetually reclining in hover chairs. Only with the arrival of the plant do the humans begin to shape up. Wall-E accidentally disturbs some hovering humans, and with the disturbance they begin to notice things around the Axiom, like that they have a pool and that there are other humans on board. When the captain sees some dirt fall off of Wall-E he is inspired to research where it came from. He then spends hours researching earth from the mere soil it is made of to dancing.
There is a little fight between some robots and the humans because apparently Forthright decided 700 years ago that man was not returning to Earth because the Wall-E's broke and the toxin levels were to high. The robots can only follow orders, but the captain realizes the plant proves there are no more toxins, so it is safe for them to return. Once they reach earth the credits begin to roll showing cartoons designed like cave paintings of the obese humans with robots rebuilding earth. However, they rebuilding like they are actually the cave men who made the pictures. They are fishing in the river with a net, they are sewing seeds by hand, handing their laundry out to dry, etc.
Here are the problems with all this nonsense. Once again the plant, the environment, is being given way too much credit. Without the environment man must leave earth and become lazy obese humans who are not curious and do not share any human contact. When the environment arrives man then becomes active, curious, and experiences human contact again. That itself is absurd. Trees do not make man active, curious, and desire human contact. Those are selfish human pursuits, and man would never give them up once the environment becomes extinct.
The second problem is another mixing of themes. Remember, the movie is trying to argue that man is worthless. The entrance of the environment purports that man is especially worthless without the environment. Once man has the plant, the environment, and returns to earth, man must rebuild, from scratch. Has everyone completely forgotten the spaceship the Axiom? The only environmental thing on that ship is the water in the pool, and that is probably loaded with chlorine. A frog would probably die just dipping one of its slimy toes in there. Even though the Axiom had no environmental aspects man was able to live on there for 700 years. The Axiom proves that man is great, and much greater than the environment. Man does not need the environment because he can create technology. However, what is really disturbing is the part where man rebuilds earth from scratch. Somewhere on the Axiom must be all the information to create more technology like the Axiom. It is disgusting that man must fish with nets in a river when he has his greatest technological achievement that alleviates all that physical labor parked right behind him. Furthermore, if man did create the Axiom he would not be obese and lazy. When man has that technology he will know how to control his own body. Man will be able to make every body healthy and physically fit. Man can then relax, enjoy luxury, without the fear of harming himself. This is a contradiction that puts a serious dent in Wall-E.
However, the film does get three stars, and that may be because I am a hopeless romantic, maybe, I do not really come off as one. However, every scene with Wall-E and EVE made me smile. EVE is first not receptive of Wall-E, probably because she thinks he is a fool. I understand, Wall-E can come across as an ignorant goof ball. Yet, Wall-E is incredibly curious. He wants to understand everything. He is the reason why EVE finds the plant. I am not sure if EVE is an environmentalist, but she was designed to find plants, and she takes great pride in the work. This work is equivalent to discovery, the love of a quest, the desire to understand. Therefore, EVE is incredibly curious like Wall-E. Except, EVE is smarter and she is really only concerned with finding plants. She is like a scientist. Wall-E is more of a cultural man interested in the arts. Particularly, a move called Hello Dolly which is constantly playing on his video ipod. EVE eventually understands the similar values between her and Wall-E, when Wall-E is also interested in protecting the plant from the other robots who want to launch it into space and have it explode. Also, a video of Wall-E obsessed with EVE's well being when she goes into sleep mode helps EVE come to that understanding. Therefore, it supports a perfect theme of love, a selfish value of one's own virtues in another.
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