June 29, 2008

WALL·E Talkback

By not-so-popular demand, a WALL·E talkback. Because my own opinion of the film falls squarely in line with the status quo, it's not really worth regurgitating. I did love it, though, and I think it's pretty obvious that Andrew Stanton and Brad Bird are the brightest of Pixar's bright lights.


Anonymous said...

I don't really understand the 1/2* drop that both Chaw and Ebert gave it. I think it's Pixar's finest and as close as you can come to making a perfect film. I will echo the thought that this is the most believable (and involving) love story since Joel and Clementine in Eternal Sunshine.

O'JohnLandis said...

WALL-E is wonderful. Just thought I should get that--and the fact that I'm going to be making liberal use of spoilers--out of the way.

My Pixar list so far:

1. Ratatouille
3. The Incredibles
4. Monsters, Inc.
5. Finding Nemo
6. Toy Story 2
7. Toy Story
8. A Bug's Life
9. Cars

(I'm not convinced about the placement of WALL-E and The Incredibles. Ask me again in six months.)

Ratatouille is perfect, or at least close enough to ease the considerable blow that is the--hopefully temporary--loss of traditional animation in this country. There's precise storytelling, clever construction, a gorgeous look, and a breathtaking allegory that probably makes Ratatouille the best film ever made about art.

The Incredibles is pure pleasure of the superhero/James Bond type and therefore, the perfect opportunity to discuss the role of aptitude in our society. That Ratatouille (a really different kind of story and movie) was somehow able to distill and enhance the discussion started in The Incredibles is among the reasons I think Brad Bird belongs in the absolute highest level of auteurs.

Monsters, Inc. was the first time feature computer animation ever seemed fully successful. Toy Story 2 seemed like a second draft of Toy Story--a second shot at figuring out the reason WHY we ought to care about a bunch of toys. But Monsters, Inc. was charming, entertaining, and had a beautiful little ending.

Finding Nemo was more ambitious, and at its best, more involving. Its danger, though, was so realistic that I had trouble accepting a happy ending.

A Bug's Life was instantly forgettable, and even if, unlike Antz, it was a film made by adults, at least Antz had some reason to exist.

Cars is total shit. It might not be a stupid, evil, poorly animated disaster like Shrek, but Cars has such a bad premise, with so many bad decisions made along the way, I'm really sad that the Pixar name's on it. Lasseter, even if he didn't have the balls to scrap it, should have tried to release it solely with the Disney name. It's actually worse than Chicken Little, but if you can stomach Chicken Little, there's a better chance you wouldn't be disappointed by Cars.

Which brings us to WALL-E. When anonymous (sign your posts!) said:

I think it's Pixar's finest and as close as you can come to making a perfect film. I will echo the thought that this is the most believable (and involving) love story since Joel and Clementine in Eternal Sunshine.

He/she/it was exactly wrong.

WALL-E is so imperfect probably because of how ambitious it is. I went in expecting it to be pretty ambitious, and wow, I had no idea. Imagine A.I. except the star isn't a kid. No, the star is the cutest character in the history of all animation. If you think your ability to deal with cuteness is pretty strong, be prepared for WALL-E to knock you flat on your ass.

So WALL-E is a love story about the cutest thing ever and a badass girl robot, set against the backdrop of an uninhabitable earth and a human population with 100% obesity. Corporations have destroyed everything except technology, and the human portions of the story are a lot like Idiocracy, except the humans in WALL-E aren't evil or particularly stupid. So near the end, WALL-E becomes, concurrently, a story about the most adorable love overcoming impossible odds AND the last gasp of the human race at reclaiming something of what it once was. That's pretty fucking ambitious. And it's wonderful.

But it's far from perfect. Every human scene is filled with dull exposition or the kind of compression that boring directors would assume is necessary in a story of this scope. But apart from those structural problems, the human scenes (especially those with dialogue) are graceless. While the message may have required 100% human obesity, the need for interesting character design surely didn't, and I'm not really sure why the humans' advanced technology wasn't advanced enough to do something about it. In other words, it's ugly without being particularly useful to the story. Other issues: I understand why the filmmakers avoided an explanation of what actually happened to the earth, but I don't understand why the characters avoided talking about it as soon as a return to earth started being a real option.

The scene that bothered me the most, however, was the Zarathustra scene in which the captain of the ship first stands and then walks, presumably for the first time in generations, all while the tiny part of Also Sprach Zarathustra that was used rather well in 2001, plays in the background. If you're going to copy that moment without the slightest hint of parody, you had better be sure that this is THE reason to do so. That bit of 2001 suggested an evolutionary step for mankind, so if you're going to make the exact same point 40 years later, I think it has to be in a stronger scene with a staggering weight. But WALL-E isn't about the captain, and the captain looks SO silly, that the Zarathustra moment just annoyed me.

And I suppose the real danger in this level of ambition is that you're inevitably going to fall a bit short. There's a theoretical version of WALL-E possible--one without speaking humans at all, perhaps--that could have been the new century's great, enduring work of art. There's that much potential in this movie, in this love story, in WALL-E's face.

The reason, by the way, that the WALL-E love story doesn't quite measure up to Joel and Clementine in Eternal Sunshine is that WALL-E and EVE are less equal.

Still, I know that by the end of even this version of WALL-E, right around the time that EVE was rummaging around WALL-E's home, I was crying. Not tearing up. Crying. (You know, I had intended to better explain this sequence, but I just couldn't risk it. Plot spoilers, whatever, but an emotional spoiler like the end of WALL-E? That's just wrong.)

Here's the short version: After Ratatouille, I thought, "Wow, they nailed it." After WALL-E, just after crying for the first time in years, I thought, "Wow, what if they had really nailed it?"

chris said...

Wow, thanks Bill. I can't believe that worked.

Your words on Finding Nemo, o'john, kind of sum up my problem with Wall-E.

I found the movie terrifying, shattering, uneasy from the beginning to end. It induced in me a feeling that reminded me of movies like Blade Runner and Keane. And when you combine a dystopian loneliness with someone (something?) like Wall-E, who makes descriptions like "adorable" and "cute" seem trite and condescending, it's too much to bear.

And then zap bang pow, the human race is saved!

And I'm sitting there thinking, "Wait, what was the point here? Was it getting Wall-E the girl, or was it saving the human race?"

I couldn't care less about the humans, and not just because they're the weak leak in a picture that is Top 10 for Imagination and Originality. I hate the humans because it's *their* fault that Wall-E, this poor little wonderful guy, got shafted for SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS.

But he doesn't even care! His purity and innocence keep him going no matter what the adversity, and then he just happens to absolve us of our sins and..... well, there is a resurrection... is Wall-E just a combination of Forrest Gump and Jesus Christ? No, I don't think that's what Stanton intended.

What was Stanton's intention? Was it to render with computers the most immediately, unforgettably lovable character in the history of film? If so, he may have succeeded, but then I feel like the balance with tragedy and misery in the picture throws things off. Was it just a parable of humanity's fall from and rise back to grace? If so, then what's Wall-E got to do with it?

I LOVE this movie, but it's eating at me like nothing I can remember in years. I can't get my head around it. People tell me I'm reading too much into a kid's film, and I tell them they're condescending, and to stop ghettoizing animated movies.

Okay, I'm done. Anybody with any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

Anonymous said...

The film is extraordinarily kind to humans, considering it's humans who screwed up everything. All the humans are very nice people -- brave, kind-hearted, etc. -- who just need a nudge to wake up and realize what they're missing. They're victims of their culture, not the other way around. It gets kind of sticky.

Can you really say they shafted Wall-E? Not anymore than Jessie the Cowgirl doll got shafted in Toy Story 2, I'd say. Sad if you're an abandoned toy/robot, but hardly unjustifiable, considering you're a human and they're a robot. But the anthropomorphization gets kind of difficult at that point; I'm not clear how much humans know about the level of intelligence of their bots.


prashin said...

The 1/2* that Walter took off from the movie kinda annoyed me, especially because there wasn't enough elucidation for it. I want an explanation, dammit!

chris said...

Doesn't Walter explain the half-star in the first line of his review?

"The only thing that curbs Andrew Stanton's Wall-E from being a complete triumph is an extended Battle Royale in the middle of the film between a ship's captain and his HAL-like autopilot ... [it] panders to the diaper set..."

I felt like it wasn't the only such diaper-pandering moment in the movie. This is the first movie I've felt that way about.

Kim, yes, it's exactly like what happens to Jesse the Cowgirl, except for where it's different. "When She Loved Me" makes me cry Every Time, by the way, and much of this picture felt like a feature-length version of that scene.

Except, "When She Loved Me" doesn't end with a redemption of Jesse's owner. Walter says the ending of the Wall-E comes with a deceptive sense of doom, and I agree, though I'm not sure that it was intentional.

It is, indeed, a movie that "tries to have it both ways when it's done too good a job of painting a bleaker picture." Part of me feels like this is a flaw worth a lot more than half of a star - like the ending was mandated by someone more on the Disney side of the producing partnership. Part of me, though, feels like this is just an essential aspect of any exploration of our natures. Or something.

prashin said...

I read that too Chris but if we start critiquing animated films, which are primarily targeted towards children, of occasionally "diaper-pandering", then we would have to discount almost all so-called animated classics. It makes no sense to do so. That's like saying that a horror film was "too scary", well what the fuck did you expect?

Berandor said...

Sorry to un-Wall'e this, but I simply must mention AICN with regards to Gangs of New York again. I mean, how often can you say that Harry Knowles is right? Not often, but when he wrote that basically, the movie Scorcese should have made was the story of Bill the Butcher up until the first fight, he was totally right.

Daniel Day-Lewis for the win!

Mike A. said...

I think that the kid-pandering and the attempts at uplift near the end are successfully undercut by (spoiler, I guess) the buy-n-large logo that appears at the end of the credits, breaking the fourth wall and revealing that what we just saw is still ultimately a pleasant corporate version of the apocalypse.

It was also really interesting that the bleak Earth-based half was more photo-realistic and gritty than the hopeful second half, hinting to me that the journey into space might've all been an 'electric sheep' dream.

Combined with the bnl logo, it's like the flash of light at the end of Total Recall, showing that the rebellion we paid to see was a placating fantasy vacation.

Bill C said...

Agreed, Berandor. Now don't ever misspell Scorsese again.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's entirely fair to exempt the robots from Wall-E's bleak worldview, Chris. WALL-E tugs at the heartstrings from the very beginning, but you can't exactly describe him as altruistic right off the bat: when we meet him, he's picking spare parts from the corpses of his fallen brethren.

The humans and robots in Wall-E are essentially the same, because anything given life is still going to be looking out for number one, even with the addition of a personality--content to blindly accept anything that fulfills their most basic needs with a minimum of hassle. It isn't until we can love and empathize with our fellow man that we can truly evolve: It took EVE to save WALL-E from the repetitive niche that he carved for himself, it took WALL-E to save EVE from her knee-jerk destructive ways, and it took physical interaction between members of the human race to redeem them. Seeing the captain struggle to his feet to the accompaniment of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is, I think, I lot more serious and poignant when you remember the memorial board for previous captains: the gradual downslope from realistic human beings to amorphous, bug-eyed parodies of the same. It's a profoundly silly meta-moment, but Stanton needed to go all the way with it to make his point; acknowledging the stupidity of lazy isolation that represents the first step back to reality. It's all very heavy-handed--particularly what with the literal switch from "autopilot" to "manual." But it's effective.

This isn't to say that WALL-E doesn't end on something of a downer. After the end credits show us an artistic evolution representing mankind's own crawl back into active society, it's a strange thing to leap right from Impressionism to Commodore 64 graphics--before finally reverting back to the BnL logo. It implies that for all of this education and self-awareness, we're on a constant cycle of evolution and devolution (are we not men?), and it simply wonders out loud if we can really do anything to change that.

I also adored Presto, for what it's worth. It's the kind of film that Warner Bros. would still be making if they gave a shit about Bugs and company anymore beyond merchandising.

Berandor said...

I'll never misspell him again if you give me an edit option...

Kaizer Scorsese.

But man, that's awkward. Almost like misspelling Kubrik.

Anonymous said...

What I'd like to know is, where's the love for The Little Panda Fighter, The Little Cars, The Little Bee and--ahem--Ratatoing?

Jefferson said...

On-topic: I look forward to seeing WALL-E.

Off-topic: I also would give a minor organ for an FFC review of the new Mad Men Season One DVD. That show gives me a full-on Sinatra in my trousers.

permazorch said...

@ o'johnlandis:
Your Pixar list is spot-on.
However, I'd put WALL-E down just below Finding Nemo. It's funny, I used to think of the latter as being Pixar's weakest link until having kids of my own, but that's because, a)A Bug's Life is so innocuous as to have been completely forgotten by me (pre-spawning) and b) Cars hadn't been released, yet.

I guess, what moves the newest down from the top 3, or top 5, is that the ending struck me as strongly "new age", in the 'have it both ways' ending that chris mentioned. Yeah, it felt like late-1980s oat bran and crystal power jive. It felt like the humans who were saved were the descendants of people I've always thought deserving of multiple kicks to the shins. Maybe not exactly the Whitey, in Kill Whitey, but definitely soul-less.

Yeah, I work in the retail/service industry.

Still, I loved it, and I'll see it again.

OT: The only writer I completely identify with re: Indiana Jones & the Crystal Skull-Fuckers is Vern.

OT, but on Walt's mention of The Kingdom in his new piece, dag! I hated, hated, hated that piece of crap. Death to unnecessary shake-cam! That shit was old, busted, rusted & distrusted when Oliver Stone hyped it in Born on the Fourth of July!

chris said...

I think I will be referencing Wall-E for the rest of my life whenever I'm engaged in some coffe-shop philosophizing. And I think there are about ten different ways to look at the film, and probably none of them are right, and thank you, Ian and others, for engaging me.

The thing with the diaper-pandering is that this is the first Pixar movie (except for maybe Cars, which I'll just set apart from the pack, if that's okay) that I felt succumb to that.

If you want to critique all animated films for diapering-pandering, I say go ahead. Both Toy Story's, Monsters, Inc., and everything Brad Bird has made would all come out unscathed. It's possible to make a kid's movie without this shit, and Pixar almost always does. So that's why I'm a little disappointed, especially in a movie that is otherwise so deep, dark and scary.

O'JohnLandis said...

A few thoughts:

Ian, of course the Zarathustra moment was incredibly important to the story. Even with the silly character design, the only serious thing the humans had to do was remember how to walk. I just wish they hadn't used that music. And the pace of the film at that point was a bit manic for such an important moment.


For the record, I think everything "mike a" said is total nonsense. WALL-E isn't Mulholland Dr.



In Finding Nemo, my concern with the danger wasn't just that the cute fishes might die or fail in their quest, it was that it would be implausible for them to succeed. WALL-E's problem is different. Every time the little guy is put in harm's way, it's devastating, but WALL-E isn't battling the natural order of things. He's up against the unique conflicts of this story. It's still manipulative as hell, but it's not implausible that an outsider robot on THAT ship (or THAT earth) undergoing THOSE conflicts would be in pretty serious danger.

As far as the humans go, I obviously agree that they're the weak link. If for no other reason, they rob the movie of magic every time they speak. But remember that the humans on the Axiom aren't villains. They never really do anything wrong, which is perhaps a different kind of problem, but the film doesn't suggest that they don't deserve a second chance. If anything, they embrace a second chance a bit too easily.

We had a similar reaction to the film and many of the same problems with it, but I don't understand why you think the movie can't be about both WALL-E and the humans. Walter made this point, but remember, WALL-E wouldn't exist without humans.

And when Walter brought up "diaper-pandering," he was talking about action, not story. Exactly what's wrong with the story? Are happy endings always inappropriate unless the setting is happy? Let's break it down:

You start with the basic premise of WALL-E, left alone on Earth for a long time, the last of his kind. That's not enough for a story, and as Stanton has said, the opposite of loneliness is love. So you make WALL-E a love story by introducing EVE, but in doing so you admit that somewhere in this universe there are people. The people obviously must have a lot of problems, but they're always going to be peripheral, because you've seen WALL-E's eyes. You know the potential of this character going for this kind of happy ending in this setting, but the greater the conflict, the greater the possible catharsis, and therefore know that WALL-E has to interact with the human story in dangerous ways without ever losing sight of his ultimate goal. In order for this conflict to be maximal, WALL-E has to get mixed up in the ultimate story of this group of humans. He can't just help them fix their ship. So despite how manipulative and crushing it is to see WALL-E in constant danger, he perseveres, and both stories reach their logical conclusion. I cry.

The problem is just that in execution, the human story was too silly. Too much talking and too many battle royales and a 2001 homage. (Has any great film so nakedly referenced another great film?) If somehow the entire portion on the ship had been some sort of Jacques Tati creation--a version of the first half, but with people and greater stakes--the movie could keep the exact same ending (which isn't at all the kind of thing little kids would like, except that it's happy, sorta) and you might not see a better animated film in your lifetime. They were SO close.

Bill C said...

Yeah, something I've been meaning to say, vis-a-vis Walt's review and this talkback: my problem with the "Zarathustra" moment isn't that it panders to the diaper set, it's that it panders to EVERYONE. The friend I was with, who sorta fits the LCD profile, guffawed like a chimp at a carnival because "the 2001 music" is the cheapest laugh-getter there is; I just kind of squirmed, wondering why Pixar felt the need to go there and surmising that it came down to a somewhat-justified shaky faith in the palatability of the picture's second half.

On the other hand, WALL*E is downright Kubrickian in its bifurcated structure, so perhaps there's more sincerity to the homage than meets the eye.

permazorch said...

If somehow the entire portion on the ship had been some sort of Jacques Tati creation--a version of the first half, but with people and greater stakes--the movie could keep the exact same ending (which isn't at all the kind of thing little kids would like, except that it's happy, sorta) and you might not see a better animated film in your lifetime. They were SO close.
Agreed, emphatically.

I'm picturing the office building sequence in Playtime, specifically. And, sorry to harp on the happy ending, but I'd much rather Wall-E hadn't come back as himself at the last moment.
Like, if I take a candle & light a second candle with that flame, then blow out the first candle, is the life of it truly extinguished? Wall-E had a lot of parts replaced, y'know. He doesn't have to only raise his eyebrows to be charming and full of love.

I know I'm a dork, just saying...

Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo said...

Re: Hancock review
It's the Capital Records building, not Tower.

chris said...

I went to see the film for a second time yesterday, and it felt like a completely different movie (most likely because I have become something of a different person in trying to process it after the first viewing). I found myself more caught up in the story and less in just watching Wall-E moving around (which, in retrospect, was very distracting the first time), but more importantly, I found myself *enjoying* the thing. And then, I found myself more invested in the idea that the humans might be learning from Wall-E, even if he is just Forrest Gump.

The Zarathustra moment is one of several that weaken the movie, and o'john, you are right that it, in particular, stands out because it comes in the middle of the most action-packed part of the movie.

Bill, your anecdote reminds me of how both audiences I've been in have "awwww"ed at the movie, and during frightening, challenging moments. I think this movie is going to go over a lot of heads. (Does that make sound like a jackass? Whatever. I've had too many people tell me I'm "overanalyzing a kid's movie" to care any more.)

I think this movie is going to change everytime I see it. Permazorch, you issue a disclaimer for yourself that you don't deserve, because you're right. The notion of Wall-E being *completely* rebuilt and then retaining his self is bothersome to me, too, and the movie overflows with similar philosophical dilemmas. Anybody who cares to seriously approach this movie academically will have a field day. You could write volumes.

Thank you, everyone.

Alex Jackson said...

For the record, I think everything "mike a" said is total nonsense. WALL-E isn't Mulholland Dr.

I don't think you have done much to justify your case John Landis. Mike's conclusions are completely fair and based on accurate observations from the film. There is, in fact, a stylistic difference between the Earth stuff and the space stuff. And the BNL logo does, in fact, appear after the end credits and must be justified.

I liked the film a lot more before Wall.E went to space and I want to say that I wish the whole thing stayed on Earth with virtually no dialogue. But Mike is helping me appreciate the film as a whole as well as come to peace with the seeming hypocricy between the anti-consumerist message and the film's extreme aestheticism and cutesy-ness.

Do have to mention that the film seems to have tons and tons of plot holes. For one, why would they record a video message only to be seen by the autopilot? For two, how does a plant grow inside a refridgerator that has to be cut open with a laser? And why is one plant considered substantial enough to return to Earth? And 700 years is a long time. Wouldn't the humans not be able to walk if they never did so for generation after generation? How does the economy work on a resort that's been in space for 700 years anyway? And wouldn't videotape biodegrade after 700 years? Wouldn't most of the garbage biodegrade? Isn't 700 years enough time for plastic eating bacteria to evolve and thrive, particularly without any humans around?

Didn't ruin my appreciation of the film strangely enough, I guess I understood that it's a fantasy. But still...

chris said...

I do wish I could've been a fly on the wall at whatever first meeting took place between Andrew Stanton and the suits at Disney. There had to have been one, right?

One thing that has stuck with me is the collage of pictures of 'old earth' that the Captain calls up reminds me of EPCOT center.

More than one person has told me they didn't like the movie because of the hypocrisy inherent in it, who does Disney think they are, such and such. I've heard people say "Disney owns Pixar," and I've argued about this, but the truth is I don't know the facts.

My impression has been that Disney and Pixar signed a mutually beneficial contract stipulating that Pixar would keep making Disney all its money and that Disney would let Pixar keep making its own creative decisions.

Any thoughts on this? Can a benevolent corporation and a malevolent corporation join together and produce something as good as Wall-E?

My honest inclination has always been that Disney isn't *evil* so much as way, way off track, and John Lasseter is gonna work to bring them back. Thoughts?

O'JohnLandis said...

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

I hadn't tried to justify my case, Alex Jackson, but if you can't work it out for yourself:

Everyone is convinced the structure of the film is divided in halves, and yet it's somehow odd that the two halves--with wildly different settings--have some sort of stylistic difference? That's pretty thin. Also, I don't recall any stylistic differences between the Earth of the first half and the Earth of the second half, which seems odd if the happy ending is a dream.

The BnL logo after the credits is a very simple joke, appearing with all the other corporate logos. If their intention was to suggest, long after the film was over, that the presence of a BnL logo in the credits was some kind of code for "everything happy that you just saw was fake, however, everything grim was actually real," don't you think they wouldn't have included the real-world corporations?

Of course, I don't really think that the first half is bleak. The setting is, but the actual material isn't. Sad maybe, but not bleak. And does Pixar have a track record of creating anything as ugly and unimaginative as this depressing shaggy dog interpretation I'm wasting my time by attacking?

Either the entire story is fake because of the logo (of course, it is fake, but I guess the logo means it's maliciously fake) or everything happy is fake because of the logo and the supposed stylistic difference of the section IN SPACE or the story is simply as it seems. Far be it from me to rob Mike A of his ability to share his "Theme and Masturbations on the Subject of the Pixar Film, WALL-E," but honestly, the burden of proof for this bullshit rests solely with him.

Bill C said...

I think I speak for everyone when I say Alex, O'John: get a room!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that as far as the BNL logo goes, I'm totally on board with Ian's interpretation. I'm reminded of the South Park episode where Wall-Mart takes over the town until the townspeople burns it down and gives their patronage to the local general store, which becomes successful and eventually grows into a megalithic superstore which the townspeople burn down etc.

Alex Jackson said...

Everyone is convinced the structure of the film is divided in halves, and yet it's somehow odd that the two halves--with wildly different settings--have some sort of stylistic difference? That's pretty thin. Also, I don't recall any stylistic differences between the Earth of the first half and the Earth of the second half, which seems odd if the happy ending is a dream.

Well, the thread connecting Earth and space is the depiction of the humans. They are portrayed by full-bodied human actors in the "past", but in the modern day they are bulbous but cute CGI creations. Virtually this alone substantiates Earth as "real" and outer space as "fake".

The BnL logo after the credits is a very simple joke, appearing with all the other corporate logos. If their intention was to suggest, long after the film was over, that the presence of a BnL logo in the credits was some kind of code for "everything happy that you just saw was fake, however, everything grim was actually real," don't you think they wouldn't have included the real-world corporations?

Well, I think you just contradicted yourself. You said that the BNL logo was among the other corporate logos and then claimed that they didn't include the real-life corporations. I may have misread you though and you meant they didn't reference any real-life corporations within the context of the actual film rather than just the credits.

But anyway, the filmmakers have established that the BNL has a negative connotation, it's a construction to criticize all corporations in general, and that would have probably been lost using a real-life corporation. I honestly can't think of a real-life corporation that automatically stands in for pure evil.

By juxtaposing the BNL logo with the Pixar logo, the two are essentially made the same. I do love Ian's comment about the end credits about how the Renaissance moves into Commodore 64. And the resulting comment about the South Park episode where they burn down the general store that became a monolith just like Wal-Mart. The paradox is that people reject consumerism in an attempt to retain their human identity and yet their anti-consumerism itself becomes something to be consumed. How damning that the ridiculous grass-and-granola utopian ending dissentigrates into Commodore 64 depictions. More fodder for the mill.

Either the entire story is fake because of the logo (of course, it is fake, but I guess the logo means it's maliciously fake) or everything happy is fake because of the logo and the supposed stylistic difference of the section IN SPACE or the story is simply as it seems.

Yeah, I think as a corporate product Wall.E is showing you the reality of how bad things are so you can better buy their solution. Remember, as a product of BNL, we're seeing a film that is intended to be watched in the 29th century.

It has occurred to me that the "plot holes" are generally focused in the space section. And the two major one's regarding Earth: the videotape, the plant, and I'll also add a third, the fact that Wall.E never met an Eve in his 700 years on Earth, have to do with hope. Really the entire narrative is based on bullshit. The only thing I am willing to believe in the movie is that a solar-powered robot can work for 700 years building towers of garbage.

Honestly, the whole movie opened up with me once I read Mike's comment.

O'JohnLandis said...

The physical change in the humans is sort of the whole point of their story. If it's an indication that the entire story is some sort of self-referential fake, it seems pretty much any movie could supply sufficient evidence for the same interpretation, if someone had the patience to bang their head up against a wall indefinitely. An infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of walls, or some such.

I don't know how BnL stands for pure evil and I don't know how the credits of a movie can open anything up for you. I don't have time to check all the previous Pixar movies, but it seems their credits often include something that has nothing to do with the story. They are credits, after all. We're not meant to think less of the story in Toy Story because the outtakes in the credits point out that all the characters are actors.

And BnL is as responsible for everything good in WALL-E as they are for everything bad, which defeats one of your many false interpretations, but not all, so whatever. Of course, you admit you started typing before you even figured out what a simple paragraph meant and you are somehow morally opposed to being persuaded even when you're just pretending to engage in intelligent conversation anyway. I suppose I should be kinder, but you're a Colbert creation without the joke, believing that your gut reaction is the same as quality and that reasonable doubt has no bearing on this type of endeavor when you can simply waste my time pretending not to understand something. Well, you convinced me; you don't understand anything. Good luck to you.

Berandor said...

Damn. I like Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, but his review of "Hancock" contains twice the assertion that "critics are stupid".

Not that I disagree with regards to a lot of movie "critics" out there nowadays, but still. Someone with Phil's status: a big blog that is read by (I'd guess) more intellectual types, and still such crap.

Alex Jackson said...

Oh, John. You're just as stubborn as I am. I'm not doing a good enough to convince you, you're not doing a good enough job to convince me. What does it matter?

The "BNL defense" is actually reminding me a lot of the elaborate "it's all a dream" justifications for the happy endings of Spielberg's A.I., Minority Report, and War of the Worlds.

I'll admit it, the whole idea behind theories like this is to provide some kind of framework to explain the seemingly dissonant elements within the film. I do see it as some kind of a moral imperative to dismiss the idea of "imperfection". All films are necessarily "perfect". Once a film reaches its audience in its final form, it's complete and cannot be changed by feedback. So I mean, the movie can't accomodate us, we have to accomodate the movie.

I'm trying to be humble here. If I dislike absolutely anything (Tokyo Story, Vertigo, Must Love Dogs) I'm willing to presume it's because I simply don't understand it and if I were simply to work hard enough I'll see the reason behind it all. Only reason I use my gut reaction is to differentiate which ones deserve the hard work.

Anonymous said...

berandor, re: Phil Plait

If a film critic goes ahead and says that critics are stupid, he very obviously has to put himself at the top of that list.

jacksommersby said...

Veteran critic John Simon would definitely disagree with you there. Back in the '70s, according to him, only 10 people in the entire country or world; I can't remember which) are qualified to write film criticism -- while including himself in the list, of course.

Love Gorilla said...

Off topic for a moment, just was wondering who wrote the Lars + Greg + Cottage trio? It says Ian at the top, but Walter at the end - spectacular writing regardless, but was just wondering.

Also, big kudos to Walter for the Get Smart and Hancock reviews, two great films I wouldn't have seen had it not been for the recommendation. Keep up the good work!

Bill C said...

Ian wrote it; my bad. Should be fixed shortly.

renfield said...

Anybody catch the Lord of the Rings riffage during the climax? Distract the disembodied red eye while Wall-E puts the [ring] into the [volcano]?

Sort of a sad self-comment on the surrender to formula.

renfield said...

Also: Looney Toons/Merry Melodies. Pepe le Pew's hopeless quest for romance, the reduction of a cultural musical staple to iconic sound byte...

He (Wall-E) is a transcendent archetype of animation, like Felix's bag of tricks. Ontologically delicious. Pixar's first use of live-action footage deserves more evaluation?