Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 7: WALL-E

Almost every elementary screenwriting textbook says that the magic of story is that it serves as the candy coating for the message you’re getting the audience to take. Usually, the reason a movie may be considered bad is because the filmmaker isn’t sure what their message is (could be a result of the Hollywood practice of having multiple screenwriters doing revisions) or because the filmmaker is more about presenting a spectacle than a meaningful theme. (Think of a bad action movie like Ghost Rider. Did that have anything meaningful to contribute?)

WALL-E, the latest Pixar animated feature is brilliant because it presents a good story, brilliant spectacle, and actually has something to say, much to the dissatisfaction of Republican bloggers and pundits. (Honestly, to the Republicans just think everything is an attack on America?)

WALL-E is the last functioning robot on a ruined planet Earth. 700 years prior, all of human kind took a five year space cruise while the robots were left behind to clean up the massive mess on a highly toxic scale. Over time, the other robots broke down and our lone Wall-E dutifully continues his lone directive, takes care of his pet cockroach, and watches clips of My Fair Lady, dreaming of not being alone.

While out compacting and piling garbage into a skyscraper-high tower, a rocket ship shows up and drops of a sleeker-looking robot that resembles the next model of iPod. (In fact, most of the robots in this movie look like they were designed by Apple.) Named EV-A, it takes no time for Wall-E to develop a robot crush.

The plot progresses and soon Wall-E is on the cruise ship. The future is a scary one, my friends. People have developed over the centuries into obese blobs in hoverchairs. Everything they eat or drink is sucked out of a cup with straw. Their chairs function as iPhones and no one notices their surroundings. Children are raised and taught by robots touting the Buy ‘N’ Large brand. People do nothing more than consume; progress has halted. You have to wonder at this point if the human race is worth the effort.

As I mentioned earlier, the Republican bloggers and pundits are vilifying this movie for its depiction of a polluted world and harsh criticism of the culture of over-consumption. They proclaim that the film is pessimistic and un—American. I, however, actually watched the film and found that this film may have been a cautionary tale of a possible future we’re heading for, but in the end, the main message was one of hope. Yes, things may be bleak, but they can be changed. If you see this movie, make sure to watch the animated sequence during the ending credits. It is the true epilogue of the film.

One final thing: while in the theater, I was surprised to see that the majority of the audience were adults. Usually a G-rated screening is filled with kids who can’t keep their attention focused and stroller-pushers who talk to each other. Wall-E’s screening was way different than I had expected.

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