Sunday, November 16, 2008

Movie Review: Wall-E

My son and I just went to see Wall-E at a local second run movie theater. Fortunately, at the young age of 6, he only saw the fun and funny aspects of the movie. I, on the other hand, found the movie more disturbing than endearing. It was an odd experience, to say the least.

Warning: this review contains a lot of spoilers.

The storyline in Wall-E comes out in small doses throughout the movie. Basically, humans have managed to destroy the Earth, piling it high with garbage, to the point where the people are sent away on a 5 year cruise aboard a luxury space ship while those remaining clean up the planet with an army of Wall-E's. The plan was unsuccessful and the movie picks up 700 years later with a lone Wall-E still operating to complete his directive to clean up the planet. While he goes about his business, he develops his own personality and comes to desire companionship and love beyond his sole friend, a cockroach. Then one day a space ship arrives, dropping off another robot, Eve, who's directive is to search out any signs of sustained life. Wall-E forms a quick bond with Eve and hitch hikes aboard her space ship when it returns for her. Wall-E soon finds himself aboard that luxury cruise ship where he creates havoc and, ultimately, saves humanity and finds the love he so desires.

So, what was so disturbing about that?

There were two things I found disturbing about this movie. The first one I have touched on already. Humans have destroyed the Earth. The movie came across strongly as an environmentalist warning: this is what is going to happen if we don't change our ways! In the movie, the Earth is literally covered in garbage. Just about every square inch seems to be buried. There are skyscrapers of compacted garbage cubes piled high into the air by the army of Wall-Es. Amid the piles of junk, there are prolific ads of a by-gone era where consumers were encouraged to purchase anything and everything from the mega-store, Buy N Large. Not a single animal or plant can be seen anywhere. The sky is one thick polluted cloud of unbreathable air. The Earth is shown from space surrounded by a mass of orbiting junk. The creators really went out of their way to show Earth as a wasteland, the result of excessive consumerism and waste.

The second disturbing part of the movie is what we find aboard the luxury cruise ship. When the humans left Earth, they just brought their bad habits with them only they've gotten worse. Human have become fat, bloated, lazy, unthinking fools. They recline in hover chairs and only need to speak a word to have something done for them. The chairs take them where they want to be, provide personal care, provide a steady supply of drinkable food, and keep them entertained at all times. Not a finger needs to be lifted. The people just sit in their chairs 24 hours a day engaged in mindless TV commercials just inches from their face or talking to each other through their screens. If something unthinkable happens causing one of these pitiful creatures to fall from their chair, they thrash on the floor until robots arrive to lift them back in. Oh, and the polluting hasn't stopped. We are shown tons and tons of compacted garbage being thrown out of the ship to float off into space. They are truly pitiful. Not only can I see how an obese person would take offense to this film, but I found it offensive as well. The movie seemed intent of convince us that we are all going to end up this way if we continue on the path we are on now.

Now, there seemed to be a tiny bit of placating added to the movie. A very short little blurb was given in the movie explaining that the obesity and bone loss was caused by the years in space and limited gravity...something a few laps around the track will solve. These people can't even stand on their own feet, they teeter and fall when they try, let alone jog around the track! The reason given for the obesity doesn't cut it. Despite this, it is obvious that laziness is the real culprit. The creators seem to be shouting, "Get off your lazy backsides and do something for yourself for once! This reliance on technology is making you lazy and fat."

In general, I can understand the message. It is clear that we are polluting the Earth. We have huge landfills, our water requires filtration, and hazy skies. People are getting larger as we super-size our food and rely more on processed food that lacks adequate nutrition. I get it. The modern world is not a healthy one by any means. But does all this belong in a children's movie? Especially in such a blatant manner?

The only redeeming quality of the movie is that it ends with a small glimmer of hope with the recolonization of Earth and beginnings of new life.

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Donna T. said...

Hi! I really appreciate your review of the film. I think you very well articulated the problems that I also have with it. It's really just one of a number of apocalyptic themed movies that are being targeted to children right now. We avoid those type of movies and books with our children... even if they don't get it! Thanks for sharing. Wall-e is going to be huge this Christmas, I think. Major marketing.

Appliejuice said...

I knew there was a reason I didn't want to see the movie. I really don't like those kinds of movies and we refuse to see them. Thanks for your review. I think we will take this off of our list to see.

Kelley said...

I felt exactly the same way about this movie. My oldest child (girl, 12) didn't really like it. My 9 yr old (boy) loved the animation and robots and was really oblivious to the message. My 5 year old is a robot fanatic, so that's all he cared about. My husband and I didn't enjoy it. We left the theater feeling, "icky".

Benji in Melbourne said...
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Sociopath said...
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Robot humans call for deeper ‘directives.’ said...
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