Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie Review: WALL-E

*This review contains spoilers*

“WALL-E” is a very strange children’s movie. This film isn’t afraid to be either desolate or off-putting and I don’t mean that in a bad way. For one, the setting is not a happy one. And the lack of dialog in the first half really hammers home how empty and quiet an abandoned Earth would be. In fact, I spent a great part of this movie seriously horrified either by the state of Earth or the state of humanity. If it wasn’t for the completely sweet WALL-E himself, I think the movie would have been too dark for most adults much less children. WALL-E as a main character is quite interesting because this movie isn’t about him growing and changing so much as it is about his effect on the people and machines around him.

See full post for further thoughts.

Still, those adults who’ve been decrying the movie as anti-human....Um, what movie did you see? Because the movie I saw named WALL-E ended on a hopeful note. The humans take control back; this is especially clear if you watch the credits where humans and robots are working together to rebuild society (including cities, industry and such). If anything, I found the movie to be profoundly redemptive on that score. Humans, having exchanged comfort for responsibility long ago, take charge of their destinies once more from little things like working on the computer past “bedtime” to bigger things like saving children from being crushed.

And this story of the humans parallels the robots. Humans gave into easy-living; robots submit to programming. Both have to overcome these impulses to take conscious control of their futures. The moving force for this is WALL-E himself who without really trying or meaning to, entices every robot and human he comes into contact with (except the Autopilot) into acting “outside the box”. From teaching robots how to wave hello-goodbye to forcing two humans out of their projection bubbles, he is the force responsible for the robots and the humans becoming something new.

I didn’t leave with the “Yippee” (like after Nemo) or a “Hell, Yeah!” (like after Incredibles). More like, “Hmmmm....That was interesting.” American cinema is certainly evolving when a supposed children’s film provokes more thinking for me than 90% of the officially grown-up films out there. The animators at Pixar should be commended for creating a remarkably grim movie that also happens to be entertainingly adorable. Because, desolate visuals or no, I still want a WALL-E robot.

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