Wall-E

The Nominations:

  • Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
  • Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
  • Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
  • Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing
  • Original Screenplay

The Black-and-White:

A review by SpacedCowboy

My only quibble in the nominations comes in one particular category: Original Screenplay. Otherwise, the nods are not a surprise, nor are they undeserved. My friend Barry believes that Wall-E deserved a nod as Best Picture as well. I can see why he thinks that, but I disagree, and for two reasons: the screenplay and the antagonist. I’ll elucidate my argument below.

But first, here is the film synopsis from imdb.com:

In a distant, but not so unrealistic future, where mankind has abandoned earth because it has become covered with trash from products sold by the powerful multi-national Buy N Large corporation, WALL-E, a garbage collecting robot has been left to clean up the mess. Mesmerized with trinkets of earth’s history and show tunes, WALL-E is alone on Earth except for a sprightly pet cockroach. One day, Eve, a sleek (and dangerous) reconnaissance robot, is sent to earth to find proof that life is once again sustainable. WALL-E falls in love with Eve. WALL-E rescues Eve from a dust storm and shows her a living plant he found amongst the rubble. Consistent with her “directive” Eve takes the plant and automatically enters a deactivated state except for a blinking green beacon. WALL-E, doesn’t understand what has happened to his new friend, but true to his love, he protects her from wind, rain, and lightening, even as she is unresponsive. One day a massive ship comes to reclaim Eve, but WALL-E, out of love or loneliness hitches a ride on the outside of the ship to rescue Eve. The ship arrives back at a large space cruise ship, which is carrying all of the humans who evacuated earth 700 years earlier. The people of earth ride around this space resort on hovering chairs which give them a constant feed of TV and video chatting. They drink all of their meals through a straw out of laziness and/or bone loss, and are all so fat that they can barely move. When the auto-pilot computer, acting on hastily given instructions sent many centuries before, tries to prevent the people of earth from returning, by stealing the plant, WALL-E, Eve, the portly captain, and a band of broken robots stage a mutiny.

OK.

With respect to the nominations: clearly, Best Animated Picture, Original Score and Original Score are no-brainers. Disney/Pixar always have these elements in their crosshairs, and (just about) always deliver. The nominations are well-deserved.

Achievement in sound mixing/sound editing? I can also support nominations in these categories. The animated action required a deft touch (and ear) to bring together a seamless, coherent and pleasing sound to the film, and on those accounts, Wall-E succeeded in abundance. Nominations deserved.

And that brings us to Best Screenplay.

The story was … good. It was … OK+. My main pet-peeve with Pixar was addressed in their previous penchance for giving us weak female characters. In Wall-E, EVE kicked a$$. Killer arm-gun. Attitude. Brains. Muscles. Fortitude. Bravo.

Two quibbles:

One thing that makes a great movie is a great antagonist. A villain who makes you love her/him, while making you hate him/her all the more. All the while being a force that compels you to engage in their voyage, be it to good or to ill.

Let me ask this question of you: who was the antagonist in Wall-E?

Some answers I’ve received include:

  • the lethargic humans
  • from IMDB: “MacInTalk, the text-to-speech program for the Apple Macintosh, was used as the voice of Auto, the Axioms internal autopilot, built into the ship’s steering wheel. Auto has a single red eye and serves as the antagonist of the film. His responsibilities are following Directive A113, which is to ensure that the ship never returns to Earth.”

OK.

Obstacles these “villians” above did provide, but a vital story element  as the classic “villiain”? Sorry, no where near… Think about it: who was “Kurtz” in Wall-E?

It makes all the difference.

My one other (minor) peeve was with the obvious, blatant, unapologetic “sweetness” factor of Wall-E. I mean, if I hear another bleating ‘Ev-A” from this can of metal, I may go postal.

It was all just a bit (but only a bit) too sickly sweet. I am reminded of the immortal words of Smeagol:

The rock and pool, is nice and cool, so juicy sweet.

Our only wish, to catch a fish, so juicy sweet!

Like JuicyFruit: good, but just a bit tooooooo sweet.
Bottom line: except for one category (screenplay), nominations well deserved. Best picture? Missing the writing element, and antagonist character arc. Otherwise … getting closer. It will happen sometime for an animated feature, just not this year. And deservedly so.

Advertisements

One Response to Wall-E

  1. ladyoscar23 says:

    Agh! I had read at least one review of this movie that said it was incredibly sad and painful, but foolishly I watched it anyway. What kind of sick, twisted robot-haters made this film? How on Earth did it get a G rating?! I suppose _Silent Running_ is still the most traumatic cute robot film I’ve ever seen, but if today’s kids can happily watch _Wall-E_, I’m worried.

    Given that Wall-E and presumably many of the other robots appear to be sentient beings, this film involves slavery, torture, manslaughter, a somewhat abusive girlfriend, and two incidents in which the life of a pet (Wall-E’s cockroach) is in apparent peril. For a couple of moments in this film, I actually put my hands over my eyes.

    While it may seem good that an animated film could be so realistic (when I saw Wall-E’s plant my thought was “boy, that’s a bad CGI plant–wait, this whole film is CGI”) I think that the creators of every film have to decide who their target audience is, and if it’s children, they should compensate accordingly.

    I think one of the failings of Disney is that their children’s stories always have a concrete, intentionally scary villain. When I was a kid my favorite stories had no villain–who was the “bad guy” in _The Wind in the Willows_ or _Winnie the Pooh_? As an adult, the movie I would most recommend to people with kids is the Japanese animated film “My Neighbor Totoro”, which has some potentially scary themes (a mother with a serious illness, a small child who is lost) but no real villain.

    Isn’t that more hopeful than a film where robots who merely wanted to fufill their mission as they believed it to be are abandoned and abused like poor little Wall-E or squashed like the sentry robot on the Axiom ship?! Again, Agh!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: