wall-e-the-movieDirected by: Andrew Stanton.

Written by: Andrew Stanton.

Starring: Ben Burtt (voice), Elissa Knight (voice), Jeff Garlin (voice). 98 min.

Review top sheet: a computer-generated film for “kidz” about computer-driven automata operating in a post-industrial wasteland where emotion is measured in bleeps and megabytes.

Somehow I don’t think I’ll be letting my children see this one.

Will you like this film?

  • Yes, if you’ve had all your shots, were brought up on flourided water and think Tellytubbies are cute.
  • No, if – like me – you no longer own a TV and indulge in dangerous activities such as reading books.
  • Maybe, if you are a computer programmer and want to believe that – at least theoretically – there is life beyond Java.

General comments: Wall-e opens very much like I Am Legend and its seventies precursor The Omega Man: a solitary being left on earth driving about a presumably post-nuclear city. Here though, he’s not out shooting non-human baddies. He’s clearing up the mess we – the oh-so-human baddies – have made. The message is clear: we, humanity, are bad. It’s all our fault.

It’s enough to put you off your Coke and popcorn.

The humans in the story have become grossly fat and lethargic and totally dependent on the mechanical servant class their forebears (presumably) created. They are crassly ignorant and plugged into a constant stream of “fun” and thus incapable of rudimentary independent thought. So perhaps this serves as something of a cautionary tale. Or perhaps it is more predictive programming. It’s hard to tell. However, it’s so close to how things already are its parody value is either already – or soon to be – redundant. This puts me in mind of Wag The Dog (about how war is created as a PR campaign) which began life as a parody and is now simply an example of popular realpolitik.

Of course, in Wall-e the mechanical characters are cute and imbued with human-like responses. Otherwise, we wouldn’t buy into the story. But I failed to grasp their motivations.

Out-of-five star ratings:

  • Story: *
  • Acting: *
  • Substance: *
  • Film craft: *****

Story comments: here we have more than one archetypal story fused together and invested with pseudo cuteness: Noah’s Ark (humanity has fled the planet to avoid the ‘deluge’ otherwise known as the problem we ourselves created) with salvation signalled by the discovery of a sad-looking bit of flora (cf. the dove returning with the olive branch).

Overlaid, we have a rehashed Adam and Eve. Adam is represented here in the person of the first – or possibly last – Windows-driven computer. Eve (the character’s actual name in the film) is an Apple Mac if ever I saw one. She plays hard-to-get long enough to make things interesting, but eventually succumbs to the charms of Windows.

I don’t think so. Whoever wrote this film never attempted to make sense of Microsoft Vista’s contorted rigidity after a couple of years in ergonomic heaven with Apple’s Tiger or Leopard operating systems.

Welded to the underbelly of both these ancient classics, we have elements of the Terminator series (which itself is largely rehashed Frankenstein) and a smattering of Aliens – which I happen to think is one of the best films about motherhood of all time (the director’s cut, not the one which was in cinemas).

Acting comments: there is no real acting here and the production company has wasted its money on the actors who do the voiceovers. A first-year RADA student could have dubbed the whole film for a hundred pounds with nothing more than a Sinclair ZX1 and a voice-distortion unit.

Substance comments: if by substance we mean message, then it is this: the world is screwed, it’s all our fault, there’s nothing you can do about it. If you believe this, you may as well just max out your credit cards on another pointless round of shopping.

Film craft comments: excellent. The animators clearly had a great time making this film and if you like this sort of thing you will appreciate their labours.

A taste of the story: Adam meets Eve. Bleep.

Published by The Moscow News.

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