I know this isn't a book, but this movie has been on my mind since several members have mentioned it in other topics and that I did finally rent it to watch. I'm sorry folks, but I couldn't get the least bit excited about it, and found a major flaw in the story that just doesn't jibe with me:
As I understand it; Humanity left Earth on a ship and had been gone for at least 700 years. Someone be sure to correct me if I'm wrong on this. Wall-E is a machine that has been operating without any human help for 700 years? Even if he could keep repairing himself as seen in the movie, it would seem to me that there is no conceivable way possible he could keep operating for that long a period of time without outside help from a human being.
The same thing is true about the ship that the remainder of humanity has inhabited all this time. How can a ship, no matter how big or advanced it is, continue to operate for over 700 years without finding a planet to replenish the necessities such as food, recycled air, getting rid of human waste, etc? After all, that was the main thing that caused them to leave Earth in the first place. Wouldn't the ship just turn into another polluted mess like the one they'd left behind? Now, if they had colonized another world, yes, I could see them surviving for that length of time, but not on a ship.
I will also agree that the story did a great job of having all the key elements of what should be expected in a science fiction story. My problem was that I just couldn't buy into the whole idea. Maybe I expect more from the human race. I don't know, but I just couldn't accept the idea of humanity letting themselves get into such a predicament in the first place. Maybe I'm putting too high of ideals on my own kind. It's possible, but I didn't like this movie and have no intentions of watching it, again. JMO
sorry you didn't enjoy it. It was one of the highlights of last year's film season, IMHO. I had no issue with the 700 year span, partly because it wasn't mentioned early in the story at all. We're just dropped in media res, and watch Wall-E do his quirky cute stuff for a while before his whole world/universe changes when EVA arrives.
Then we see this quirky cute robot do things robots really aren't capable of doing, and again - suspension of disbelief. Didn't bother me in the slightest. I think it was easier to deal with this particular set of belief-suspensions because it was animated. I have no issue w/talking dogs in animated films, but I tend to dislike them in live-action. I have young kids, there are a fair number of live action talking-animal movies out there...sigh.
But anyway, sorry you didn't like it. I really really crazy enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for a good love story, happy endings, and sentient or semi-sentient technology, so for me it was like a little carnival.
I found the background just as convincing as one of those Frederik Pohl / C. M. Kornbluth stories of the 1950s---giant "Wal-Mart"ish company now controls the Earth, gets itself into a mess, gets the population of Earth off-planet, leaving robots behind to clean the mess---and one robot is still at it, seven hundred years later, because nobody ever told him to stop.
There's a brief scene early on where Wall-E has trouble with his treads, passes by what appears to be a large number of other Wall-E units that are not functioning---and salvages some good treads from one of them. Especially with the ability to self-repair, I don't find it unrealistic to find a robot working so long after manufacture---seems planned obsolesence would have a place in such a background, but need not affect any long-term ability to function.
Whether the other robots we meet have this ability, or could develop it, I can't say. We do see a (robotic) repair ward aboard the Axiom. It's possible the robots of the Axiom are the original crew from seven hundred years before, endlessly repaired. Or they may be of more recent vintage, built in a robot factory somewhere on board ship.
(You may think from this that I've watched this film closely---you'd be right. I must have watched my DVD of it a dozen times or more since I caught it a couple of days before Christmas---I found it so moving and interesting I couldn't take my eyes off it. For the first forty minutes, you cannot tell it's CGI, either...)
I would think that the elements of weather would make even replacement parts obsolete within decades let alone centuries. And think what this would do to anything that's supposedly kept functioning for 700 years. I kept watching the movie for the only time I've seen it and kept thinking, "Yeah, right!"
Have any of you ever seen the movie Short Circuit? Now, that made a whole lot more sense than Wall-E. I almost cried when I thought that robot was destroyed near the end of the movie, and I still have the video (It came out before DVD).
I just bought a copy of Wall-E (only just came out over here).
I loved it, despite a couple of flaws. I guess they don't grate on my nerves enough. I particularly enjoyed the whole silent-movie approach to the beginning. I was amused when my brother came over to watch it, was too distracted peeling his pistachios, missed all the visual gags and then didn't get into it having missed the largely visual character development.
I can ignore issues of 'reality' with a film such as this - after all, it is a cartoon - so I'm not worried about the humans getting bed sores or other maladies from their extended inactivity. What does bother me though is the visual approach of the film.
Wall-E and Earth is rendered in a very gritty, textured environment. The video recording of earlier human communications are live-action. Yet, the Axiom's human population is extremely cartoonish and simplistic. To me this is a visual disconnect that makes me want to gag.
IMHO, had they rendered the old-Earth human recordings it may have been far less annoying; I could possibly then just see Wall-E's gritty almost 'realistic' model as exactly what it's meant to be - completely out of place on the 'fantasy' Axiom.
As for environmental issues on the Axiom - I really don't think there is enough information to go on. Certainly, if they're dumping rubbish over the side, then they can't be completely self-sufficient. Yet, I'm not sure I ever heard them say they were, so perhaps there are just elements to the technology and background that are not presented to the viewer as they are unimportant to the story.
Then again, this is all coming from me - I watched the Jimmy Neutron movie like 12 times. I can ignore major gaps in believability for some childhood fantasy.
I see. Short Circuit was a lot of fun (the sequel, less so). But I can't see Johnny Five, at the end of that movie, building a complete duplicate of himself after being active over only a period of a few days, as credible as Wall-E being able to repair himself over a much more substantial period of time.
I think the story resonates with me. "Lonely Guy meets Girl." We quickly come to care about Wall-E, and then EVE, after spending just a few minutes watching their lives.
Take Wall-E. He has a thankless job. He spends his day crushing garbage into compact cubes and assembling these into structures that resemble skyscrapers. But his job doesn't define who he is. He collects interesting things out of the trash he goes through, organizing them in a large truck that has become his home, and also enjoys watching and listening to tunes from "Hello, Dolly!" recording and replaying them with his built-in recording unit. But it's a lonely life. He gazes at glimpses of the stars, and longs for a life and love.
Enter EVA. She has another thankless job---endlessly searching for evidence that Earth can support life again, and endlessly failing. She's frustrated (and, repeatedly, demonstrates she has a pretty hot temper). Probably her wonder about life and love isn't as advanced as that which Wall-E has reached, but she's capable of reaching it. Wall-E falls for her, though it takes some time for them to talk to each other. (You'll notice that, for characters who are practically mute, they say a lot.)
When Wall-E shows EVE his treasures, we have moments that are funny, silly, and even moving. EVE even figures out things about Wall-E's stuff that Wall-E doesn't know---solving a Rubik's Cube, figuring out that a cigarette lighter gives off a flame.
Thanks to all this, we care about the characters as the plot starts to kick in. EVE goes into protective mode when she suceeds in her job---when Wall-E shows her the plant he found---and Wall-E, in love, tries to help. Thinking she's powered down, he places her in the sun (he himself is solar-powered), even trying to jump-start her with an old pair of cables at one point. He tries to carry on with the relationship, which proves to be rather one-sided.
Eventually, EVE departs, and he chases after her, clinging to the rocket ship that brought her and is now taking her away. This is one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie. Surely all of you, as science fiction readers and would-be science fiction writers, would like to touch the rings of Saturn as Wall-E does? And even here, Wall-E does not forget EVA---on his emergence from the junk-ring of satellites around Earth, he sees the beauty of the stars---and attempts to show it to EVA.
Once they reach the Axiom, they (and we) meet more characters, robots and humans. You might notice that Wall-E has an impact on their lives. MOE discovers he can do his job off-the-lines. John and Mary discover there's more to life than looking at their screens while riding around in hover chairs. TYPE (the concierge at the elevator) discovers he can wave. The Captain discovers both his deep longing to return the Axiom to Earth, as well as his hidden depths as a captain. The Rogue Robots learn they can go on serving in unexpected ways, damaged as they are. And EVE discovers that Wall-E is more important to her than her "directive."
After more adventures, the Axiom, thanks to the combined efforts of the characters, returns to Earth. Wall-E has been brutally damaged. EVE takes Wall-E to his home, effeciently repairs him. But, at first, it seems that she has just assembled a Wall-E unit---one with no memory or personality---one who is not Wall-E. But, when EVE gives him a sad kiss (for them, a spark of electricity between them), he awakens from his sleep and is Wall-E again. (You might recall the motif of awaking the sleeping princess with a kiss from the prince, that pops up over and over in Disney movies. Pixar has adapted it---but it's the princess awaking the prince.)
You might state the theme of the movie as "What you do defines neither who you are, nor what you can do." And considering how many of us live our lives in thankless jobs, that's a good thing.
Maybe it was the lack of dialogue, but not half that stuff came through when I watched it. I actually found my mind wondering away from the movie and found it hard to keep my attention on it. It just plain didn't resonate with me, but it looks like I'm the only one on Hatrack who thinks that way.
When I saw the previews for this movie, I thought the visuals were fantastic, but it takes more than spectacular views to make a good story. I have a feeling that if I'd read this story in book form, it would've come across much better than on the screen. I can't really explain it, but I just could not get into the characters or buy into the story. I found it boring and uninteresting to the point that I almost didn't watch it all the way through. The only reason I did was because I kept expecting something more to happen to make it worthwhile.
My viewpoint in this discussion will probably never change. I'm glad that there are people that enjoyed the movie and will watch it again, though I have talked with many who feel the same way I do... that Wall-E was just a cute kids movie and not much more than that.
Interesting, Crystal. I wonder if what you observed about Wall-E carries over to other movies, and if it's just a difference in the way you and I (others perhaps) process information. I'm really visual in my processing - I think in pictures, it's very strange I've discovered, since most people don't seem to do this or if they do it, they don't seem to know they do it. But that's one of many reasons why I loved Wall-E, because they communicated so much with pictures, images, it was fascinating to me.
I hope you understand I am in no way trying to talk you into liking the movie, and I know there are others who didn't care for it. I'm just curious about this difference and why.
I'm trying to think of other movies that rely a lot on visual. There's that famous section of the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks where the only talking is him to Wilson for something like 45 mins of the film. It also relies a lot of visuals, though of course in that movie it's all real scenes, real sets.
I'm trying to think of other movies that I really loved that struck me as really visual, though I might just be imagining things - but Eat, Drink, Man, Woman is one, and Stealing Beauty (with Liv Tyler and Jeremy Irons) is another. There's dialogue in both (in Eat, Drink it's in Chinese w/subtitles) but a significant part of my enjoyment of the movies was the visual treatment.
Anyway - just another one of those differences. We all have our likes/dislikes. I'm really anti-horror, for instance. I find nothing redeeming about the concept of being scared by my entertainment. LOL. Hundreds of thousands of Stephen King fans strongly disagree.
I've gotta say that Wall-E is one of my favorite movies to write to. Both my children love it and are stuck to the screen for the entire time, and it is so silent, yet magical at the beginning, that I can't help but be inspired as I write.
I can't help but defend that movie, my writing owes it big time. ~Sheena
I recall not getting much out of the largely silent "2001: A Space Odyssey" when I saw it in the theaters---but I was seven. Later, I saw it, and it made sense (but I had read the book by then.)
Still later, I fell in love with silent films and sought out a number of them. (I need a good soundtrack, though---watching 'em completely silent somehow feels wrong. Too adapted to the sound era?)
I'm impressed with the ability to communicate without talking---and, for the first part of the movie, and for many stretches after, the characters of "Wall-E" handle it unusually well for a modern day film.
By the way, "Wall-E" seems to be taken for more than "just a cute kids movie." It's popped up on a lot of "Best of 2008" lists, it won the LA Critics Best Film award---and there's some talk of it being a Best Picture contender for the Oscars. It might not be up to "Slumdog Millionaire" in the critics' eyes but it's certainly got to be better than "Nixon / Frost."
Kay-T; You may have something there. I didn't like Castaway either. I consider that another very boring movie. I've never seen some of the others you've mentioned.
When it comes to animated films; The only one that I thought should've won Best Picture was the only one ever nominated for that award: BEAUTY & THE BEAST. Even now, I consider that possibly the best animated movie ever made. I had to watch it over a dozen times before I didn't cry at the end even though I knew Beast would live. And the animation was superb for a film of its kind and time period.
The first 30-40 minutes of WALL-E are great. The rest of it is broad comedy that, to me, feels like a different movie. Plus there was some wonky science in it, though the robots repairing themselves for 700 years is quite believable. Various man-made artifacts have lasted thousands of years with today's technology so it's not too much of a stretch to think the robots would still be functioning. However, when all's said and done, the Earth will be covered with McDonald's wrappers and styrofoam peanuts. Saying that, I still thought it was a great flick.
I wonder, Crystal, if you watch a lot of the "old" movies, maybe the Howard Hawks stuff, or noir films, with the snappy dialogue and quick pace?
By the way, I'm a flick snob, but one should never apologize or couch one's opinion in certain terms. It's your opinion, and need not be justified. I can tell you how CITIZEN KANE, or even 2001, are GREAT movies, but at the end of the day, I'm going to pop in a DVD of THE TAKING OF PELHAM, ONE, TWO, THREE, or the original PLANET OF THE APES 'cause movies and films are supposed to be entertaining and enjoyable. If it doesn't do that for you, then it's not worth the effort.
(Don't get me wrong. I think one should try to explain why KANE or 2001 are great movies, but it's still whether the other person can enjoy the flick. Explanations are only good for film students and message boards.)
Poking through the supplemental material on the "WALL-E" disks, I found that, originally, a different movie was planned after, oh, about the forty-minute mark. EVE was supposed to be a probe from an alien spaceship, and WALL-E was going to lead a revolt of their robots. I suppose this would have been darker and more violent (the storyboard from this they did show certainly was), and, besides, it would still have left an unsolved mystery---what happened to humankind on Earth?
(Caught "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" the other month on cable---terrific movie, loaded with familiar character actors. I gather it's been remade---I wonder why, when they did it so well the first time?---but I don't know when the new one's coming out.)
I suspect that they remake movies because directors and actors want to impose their own creativity on them, and that probably includes applying new technology.
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I saw part of a recent version of "The Lord of the Flies" that, I read, was made solely so the film rights could be retained. I think certain recent Disney features fall into that same category.
I think you've got a shot if the movie wasn't particularly good in the first place ("The Maltese Falcon" was filmed two or three times before they got it right, for instance.) And, yes, sometimes new techniques can make another good movie (I think the silent "Ben-Hur" was better than the sound version---but both are good.) But "bad" is the way to bet it when you see a movie-that-was-good-the-first-time remade and released...
Postscript note: my interest in "WALL-E" progressed another step. One of the devices moving things along were two songs and a couple of very short clips from the movie "Hello, Dolly!" repeated several times. Yesterday, I bought a copy of "Hello, Dolly!" and today I hope to peruse the full version of those scenes and songs, and maybe more. I think I've seen bits and pieces of it here and there, but not the whole movie.
I do this despite my utter and visceral dislike of the star actress...
Many of today's machines are capable of diagnosing their own faults, and fixing them is often simply a matter of replacing modules one at a time until the thing comes back to life. There are robots capable of doing such plug and replacement in the labs now, and we only continue to use human beings because, for example, to maintain the telephone switch boxes you see on street corners, the maintenance engineer has to be able to read a map and drive the van, as well as replace the circuit cards. How long before a robot can do all that with a GPS?
Production lines are largely automated too, so it's quite feasible that we could make robots that repair themselves from piles of spare parts, and order more parts from the automated factory as stocks run low. The only thing they would not be able to do is invent new robot designs. (Finding new sources of raw materials might be hard too.)
So, I have no difficulty believing in self-maintaining machines some time in the future. True, picking up spares from machines that have been lying around in the weather for decades is a bit far fetched (unless of course they're made of fictitious weather-proof steel) but I regarded that as poetic licence.
I thought the ship was a metaphor for blind bureaucracy and human hubris. Its makers thought they'd be able to clean up Earth and everyone would come home in a relatively short while, so they designed it to wait obediently for the call to return. In the way of bureaucrats and computers it did exactly as it was told.
For me, the delight of Wall-E was the way it pushed the limits of computer animation with a love story featuring the most un-animated things we know: robots. Their faces and bodies are limited in terms of movement, yet, in this movie, an eye movement or a body posture, speaks volumes. The human observation and graphic art in this movie is masterful. For example, they studied how the iris of a camera lense looks to enable Wall-E's eyes to grow wide with wonder, just like a child's. Or, watch Eva's face when she realises Wall-E's lost his personality. And as Robert says, their dance in space is magical, with her moving in graceful curves, and him flitting about as he struggles to control his fire extinguisher.
Engineering for long-term reliability is a well-developed discipline. Mankind has already been doing this for hundreds of years. For example, the oldest working clock is in Salisbury Cathedral and has been keeping time for 600 years.
One principle to remember is that in general, simpler designs are more reliable. Simplicity is relative; a simple robot is more complex than a simple clock. Fewer moving parts lead to fewer failures.
Long-term reliability can be expensive to engineer. Everything from materials (iron rusts, so develop a resistant alloy) through reproducibility (making each part exactly the same each time) and quality assurance (exhaustive testing of all possible scenarios and some impossible ones) to fault tolerance (how do we repair failures).
In real life I work as an engineer. One technique that I've used in an engineering problem where we needed extreme reliability was to use "triple redundancy". Redundancy is typically keeping a 'spare' on board to replace a bad component. But...when you're running on your spare, you don't have redundancy any more. Triple redundancy means that even when you are running on the spare, you still have a spare available.
My point here is just that reliability is a well known engineering problem, and given enough money and resources, you can accomplish good results.
Which just leads to the question: why would you ever want to spend all that money making a garbage bot that will last for 700 years? Your government at work, I guess.
Well, I'm thinking WALL-E salvaged his spare parts from other WALL-Es that failed (you see a scene implying this early on, though you don't actually see him do it.) I would think he would pick and choose among working parts. Probably, there were millions of WALL-Es around. At last report, they still make enough parts to make whole complete Model T Fords...probably there are also unused spare parts around, too.
To a certain extent, the post-apocalyptic climate of Earth---somewhat dry and maybe low in oxygen (though enough to light a cigarette lighter), may have helped some in preserving things.
(I wonder how much justification the Pixar people put into the background---as much as us SF types would, maybe?)
Well, Directive A113, "do not return to Earth," went directly to the autopilots of the various ships, and was never known to any of the captains of the Axiom until the current captain forced the issue. Since the matter was "secret," EVE probes would still have to be sent out (on an annual basis, I gather)---but since the autopilot of the Axiom thought he knew that photosynthesis would never take place on Earth again, he thought it would never matter because they would always return with negative results. (Maybe you'll recall seeing some other EVE probes---EVE's sisters?---who did not have the little green light of success on their chests.)
I feel some sympathy for the autopilot here---he has the burden of keeping a terrible secret, that the Axiom would never return to Earth---but then suffered a failure of imagination when he failed to realize that orders from seven hundred years before should be taken with a grain of salt.
If the computer was capable of deception (which it clearly was, when "Gopher" removed the plant--which could've only been when Wall-E fell through to the pilot's chamber the first time), why not just "report" that the probes have been sent out (and not actually send them)? The deception shows a seperate, insidious intelligence, which is compunded upon in the disregard for the humans' lives--which the AXIOM was built to save--during the climactic "battle" scene.
Like I said, I like the movie, but it's like the Terminator paradoxial loop: impossible. Even with the explaination of it in the second movie, it would still have changed history so that the Terminators were never made. (Besides, how could Kyle Reese (Michael Beihn) have been John Connors's father the first time?
Nope, some things you just have to suspend your belief to like.
Should'a mentioned that the least probable thing in the movie is that a videotape of "Hello, Dolly!" would be watchable after more than seven hundred years.
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"Hello, Dolly!" might be timeless, but videotape sure isn't. I've got tapes from the late 1980s, homemade and store-bought both, whose video quality has markedly deteriorated in the intervening years. After more than seven hundred years, I doubt any videotape would be, uh, playable, unless special circumstances and shielding protected it---something I doubt would apply here, where WALL-E probably found it among the rest of the uncompacted junk.
[Sidebar thought, posted here 'cause it kinda preoccupied my mind the last couple of days. I can't help but notice that a certain actress who plays the title character is missing from the footage used in "WALL-E"---and in reviewing the DVD of "Hello, Dolly!" I see she's missing even from scenes actually used in "WALL-E." The director says in a commentary that he altered the source material to get a closeup of hand-holding---but it looks like the other stuff was altered to avoid showing this person.
[I suspect this was done either (a) to avoid paying a hefty fee for the use of this person's likeness, or (b) because they tried to get permission and got an outright refusal. I'd like to know, but doubt if anyone will ever say.]
Don't feel like the lone stranger, of course it may be that I didn't notice because I had not seen Wall-E until last night. I've been in the queue at Netflix since long before it was available on DVD, but alas, I still had to wait.
The only part that bothered me, was the survival of the plant in the void of space .
quote:And, of course, that's enough time to pick everything about it to pieces...if plant survival in deep space bothers you, how about WALL-E and EVE talking and making noise in a vacuum?
Alas, that did not bother me at all. The cold should have frozen the plant, but Eva and Wall-E are robots, not needing O2 nor likely to freeze to death. And why shouldn't sound move through space? I do have a problem with big firey explosions in the void of space.
TL, sound waves resonate through molecules (solids, gases, liquids, and plasma). In a perfect vacuum there is no sound. With as little gas as is available in space, humans do not have sensitive enough hearing to hear each other speak. However, depending on the sensitivity of their audio sensors, two robots could possibly hear each other.
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As I said, why shouldn't sound move through space, I said nothing about volume or human hearing, (especially since it is impossible for a human to expose their head in space to either talk or listen), and the sensitivity of electronic devices to intercede is dependant only on the technology. Space is not a vacuum, it doesn't suck away everything in its path, i.e., the atmosphere, it's just a void. My point was the robot's talking to each other in space did not bother me. By the way, if space is a total vacuum, how does one move, even a rocket engine must push against something . TL
[This message has been edited by TLBailey (edited March 11, 2009).]
Okay, haven't seen the movie, but consider this.
You do not "hear" with your ears (they just catch the sound and transmit it to where you really "hear"). You "hear" with your brain.
If robots in space are "talking" using electromagnetic signals (instead of sound waves--which they can't use in space), and those signals are "heard" in their electromagnetic receptors, then they can "talk" in space and "hear" each other without using sound waves per se.
TL, look at Newton's third law. Rockets in space basically work like a balloon expelling air.
However, Rich has misquoted me. Here is what I actually said:
quote:TL, sound waves resonate through molecules (solids, gases, liquids, and plasma). In a perfect vacuum there is no sound.
This is true. There is no sound in a perfect vacuum. That is not the same as stating that sound does not travel through a vacuum. Though space is not a perfect vacuum, it is pretty close. Sound waves do travel to us from other solar systems. What do you think all those people from SETI are listening to?
quote:With as little gas as is available in space, humans do not have sensitive enough hearing to hear each other speak.
There are particles, such as hydrogen, in space. Space Dust isn't just a cool candy. When asteroids collide with other objects, or stars expel solar debris, various particles and gases are released into space. Nebulas are more visible evidence, but there are particles everywhere - just not very condensed. So, with VERY sensitive equipment, sound could possibly be heard. Posts: 2003 | Registered: Jul 2008
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Well, neither of them seemed designed for verbal communication. I'm not sure how either of them learned how to speak, or why. WALL-E, I think, may not have spoken an intelligible word to another person before he spoke his name to EVE...
Of course, if they could hear each other with sound in the vacuum of space, surely they would also have spotted the camera that was filming them while they were speaking...
[I had to edit...the verbs in that last sentence didn't match up.]
[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited March 12, 2009).]
Kathleen, I realized my mistake soon after I made it. Yes, SETI is mainly listening for radio waves on the electromagnetic spectrum. I almost posted a self-correction last night, but just out of a hunch, I went to SETI's site and found this:
There is also an effort to look at gravitational waves as a form of communication, since the universe appears to be expanding faster than the speed of light and gravity appears to be the cause of this.
quote:Well, neither of them seemed designed for verbal communication. I'm not sure how either of them learned how to speak, or why. WALL-E, I think, may not have spoken an intelligible word to another person before he spoke his name to EVE...
my computer talks and to look at it you could say it does not appear equiped for speech, or my cell phone, or my hands free device hanging from my cars visor. As far as learned how, this is supposed to be AI, they taught themselves.