*spoilers for Wall-E to follow*
Hoo boy. This one's not going to win me any fans. Sigh.
...Buuuuut, I already called Tangled the best film of 2010 over Inception and Toy Story 3, and I still stand by that, so I suppose I just like losing readers whenever I talk about animation. (I'm kidding of course! Hardly anyone reads this blog anyways.)
Ok. I'm just going to say it. I don't like Wall-E. Never have. I don't think that it's a very good movie. But I'm always rather surprised to see that I'm in a rather small minority. People love that movie, and some even go so far as to call it Pixar's bst film... And I just don't like it very much. And don't get me wrong, I like Pixar. I like animation. I like kids films! Pixar is one of my favorite studios. I love Toy Story. I love Up. I love Ratatouille. I... Saw Cars. But Wall-E... I just don't get it.
Well, that's a lie. I do get it! I understand why the film currently sits at a whopping 96% on RottenTomatoes. I understand perfectly why people like this film. People like this film because of the first 40 minutes.
Alright, let's back up a minute. In case you're one of the two people on Earth who don't know already, Wall-E is an animated film released in 2008 about a small robot living alone on Earth cleaning up trash after all the humans left Earth. The unique thing about the film is that most of the movie, around the first 40 minutes or so, are mostly silent. They tell a story through visuals, of Wall-E alone on Earth cleaning garbage, and another robot named EVA coming to Earth to look for plant life and the two fall in love whilst never saying anything but their own names. Which is kind of odd. You'd think a future that could build robots and spaceships would but a voice chip in the robots that could say things other than their models. I dunno, maybe it was an attempt to keep robot communication limited to keep them from overthrowing us. It's as good an explanation as any.
In any case, the first 40 minutes of Wall-E are in fact good. Really good in fact! I'd even go so far as to call them great! They tell a great story almost completely visually, but still manages to be interesting enough to keep kids attention. EVA and Wall-E are both adorable and lovable, and are just kind of fun to watch.
And when I first saw the trailers for this I said something to the effect of "A nearly silent kids film? Yeah. That'll go well." But actually, it was excellently executed. I really do like the first half of Wall-E a whole lot.
And yet, this post is not called "Why I Love Wall-E," it's called "The Problem With Wall-E," so obviously I do have a big issue with the film. My problem with the film is the second half. The second half is so catastrophically BAD, that in my opinion, Kung Fu Panda was the best animated film of '08.
You see, about halfway through the film Wall-E and EVA travel to the spaceship holding some of humankind and... Well... Just see for yourself.
SEE THE PROBLEM?
So yeah. Humanity got so dependent on technology that they... Sigh... Got fat, and regressed into big babies. And I'm not the one who puts it that way, that's how the director put it. Seriously, the climax of the film involves the whole ship having to LEARN HOW TO WALK.
I see what you did there Pixar. I see what you did there. And so does everyone else because it's the LEAST SUBTLE THING I'VE EVER SEEN. This is a Captain Planet level of anvil dropping here people!
Basically the whole point of the second half of the film is simply to be a sort of "cautionary tale" against being lazy and overdependent on technology and computers. In a film that was, you know, made by computers. But that's not the point! I don't have an issue with a moral in kids films, or any films! The problem is that these things should be handled with at least a CERTAIN degree of subtlety, and the back half of Wall-E is about as subtle as a giant purple elephant sitting in your living room.
I mean, I didn't hate the first half of the film! I liked it! A lot! And that had an environmental message to it, something which is difficult to do correctly, and usually ends with such classic movies as Fern Gully.
But the first half of Wall-E was excellently executed. It started out with some brief exposition about Earth being filled with garbage and Wall-E units being deployed, and then let us draw our own conclusions. I particularly liked how we're never told what, exactly, happened to all the other Wall-E units, and why Wall-E is the only one left. And some people have even theorized that humans had already started coming back to Earth and the ships are what's starting those giant dust storms we see at the beginning of the film. There are quite a few subtleties to the beginning of that film I really liked. It showed you this world, filled with trash, and let us draw our own conclusions. It showed us a world bought out by corporations, and let us draw our own conclusions. And it was good.
Which is partly why I don't understand the acclaim for the film. It takes such a rapid swing from good to crap. I mean, the entire second half of the film is anything but subtle. It's filled with things that are so extremely environmentalist/anti-consumerist that it's just kind of painful to watch to me. Even that five minute clip started sending me into fits of rage.
The last half of that film just seems to consistently be jumping up and down in your face yelling "OOH OOH LOOK AT ME! SHAME AT YOU CONSUMERIST AMERICA! YOU'RE GOING TO GET FAT AND BE A BIG FAT STUPID BABY IF YOU DON'T STOP BUYING THINGS! I BET YOU LIKE MCDONALDS YOU CONSUMERIST GARBAGE! I BET YOU'D EAT FRENCH FRY MILKSHAKES IF THEY TRIED TO GIVE THEM TO YOU! I BET YOU'D BE ALL CONFORMIST AND CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES FROM BLUE TO RED JUST BECAUSE THE MAN TOLD YOU TO!"
And I just... Despise every single thing about the second half about this movie, perhaps with the exception of the scenes that involve, oh I don't know, THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THE MOVIE, WALL-E AND EVA.
So yeah. That's my issue with Wall-E. It's a film with a great first 40 minutes, and an absolutely awful second half. I love the first half, hate the second. I figure that means I break even and just feel kind of... Apathetic toward the film as a whole. And really, being apathetic is a pathetic way to be*.
*This joke shamelessly stolen from a Relient K song.