WALL·E (2008)

WALL·E  sucks!

“MOUSE WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

“MOUSE WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

the-angry-mob

Mob

riot

greece-riots

“MWAH HA HA HA HA! YES!! BURN THE INTERNET! BURN IT TO THE GROUND!

“MWAH HA HA HA HA! YES!! BURN THE INTERNET! BURN IT TO THE GROUND!

 

Sigh.

Okay, fine, WALL·E  doesn’t suck. I was just trying to get out of this review.

WALL·E is the kind of movie I actively dread tackling and the reason why (ignoble automotive abberations aside) I’ve largely steered clear of the Pixar canon in these reviews. They are possibly the most beautiful, perfectly crafted feature length animated movies ever made and that makes them absolute kryptonite to a Snarky Internet Reviewer like me. What the hell am I supposed to make fun of here? “HA HA, look at these idiots and their perfectly crafted and utterly charming meditation on the human condition”? I got nothing to work with here. Nothing!

This is what I see when I look at this movie.

This is what I see when I look at this movie.

Alright. Background. So, one day in 1994  John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft  sat down in the Hidden City Cafe for a cup of coffee, a chat, and to change the history of animation as we know it (as you do). From this legendary brainstorming session came the ideas that would eventually become A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and WALL·E. No doubt muttering “What the FUCK was in that coffee?” they then paid their bill, and left a generous tip for the waitress along with a cure for cancer that Lasseter had idly scribbled on a napkin. One thing you notice about WALL·E is that it’s not so much one film as two short films starring the same characters. The first is a film about the last robot on earth discovering humanity through its refuse and the second is a sci-fi romp about plucky robots helping the human race overthrow a dictatorial wheel. There’s a reason for that. The first half of the movie, with WALL·E putzing around on Earth,  arrived fully formed at that meeting and never changed all through the writing process. The second half, through, got re-written to hell and back and at one point was going to be about a robot uprising against evil aliens called “the Gels”.

anywayyyy

This means that WALL·E is the rare movie that not only has fans, but has fans of different parts of the movie. There’s probably someone out there who loves the first half of WALL·E utterly but doesn’t regard the second half as canon. That happens a lot with TV shows. Movies? Not so much. What do I think?

I think this movie is going to kick my ass and make me say “Thank you sir, may I have another?” Let’s just get this over with.

The movie begins in space, to the strains of “Put on your Sunday Clothes” from Hello Dolly. And can I ask, why don’t we see this more often? The pairing of the majesty of deep space with jaunty show tunes from the Golden Age of the American Musical? They work so well together!

"...to boldly go where no one has gone before!" "I WANNA BE IN AMERICA! OKAY BY ME IN AMERICA!"

“…to boldly go where no one has gone before!”
“I WANNA BE IN AMERICA! OKAY BY ME IN AMERICA!”

The camera then zooms down on a desolate lifeless Earth wreathed in dust and with piles of refuse miles high in all direction and manages to make it look like the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen because Pixar.

These fucking guys.

These fucking guys.

We now meet our hero, WALL·E, a little robot who’s been left on Earth to clean up the rubbish covering the surface of the Earth and who, if he was any more perfect, would be dying on the cross for our sins. This character is the gold standard for character design in an animated film as far as I’m concerned. The face is wonderfully expressive which is amazing when you consider the face is just eyes and nothing else, the thin neck suggests a baby bird and makes the audience instinctively  protective of the character and the boxy body makes him cuddly. He is simply adowable.

The first few scenes of the movie are almost entirely worldless and are a masterclass in visual storytelling. Simply by watching WALL·E and the cockroach he’s befriended (never named in the movie but called “Hal” by the creators) go about their day you learn the following:

  • Earth was taken over by a massive conglomerate called Buy and Large (“BnL” to its loyal consumers).
  • The Earth become covered with refuse from BnL’s products.
  • The entire human race has abandoned the Earth for a luxurious life out in space.
  • WALL·E is one of thousands of robots who were left to clean up the Earth.
  • Buuuuut it didn’t work and now WALL·E is the only robot left still functioning as he’s kept himself alive by scavenging parts from the corpses of his deceased brethren which is actually pretty creepy when you think about it.

That’s a fairly dense backstory right there and the movie sets it out without any of the main characters saying a word. Actually, let’s go back to the third point there. The more I think of it, the less likely it seems that all human beings were able to get off the planet when the atmosphere went toxic. I mean, Buy and Large is a company, not a charity. To get on to one of their (presumably hideously expensive) space liners you must have had to pay. What happened to the people who couldn’t afford a ticket off-world?

Ah mutation. Nature's "Plan B".

Ah, mutation. Nature’s “Plan B”.

Anyway, after a long day crunching up garbage into little cubes and stacking those cubes into larger cubes, WALL·E decides that he’s all cubed out and heads home. WALL·E lives in a truck that used to house dozens of WALL·E units but as the last one still operating, WALL·E has turned it into a museum of interesting crap that he’s found. Everything from sporks, to cigarette lighters, to rubix cubes. Why, he’s got gadgets and gizmos aplenty! He’s got whos-its and what-sits galore. You want thingamabobs? He’s got twenty.

"But who cares? No big deal. I want mooooooore..."

“But who cares? No big deal. I want mooooooore…”

Speaking of musical numbers, WALL·E’s prize possession is a working VHS copy of Hello Dolly. Which, I’m sorry, bull-shit, there is no way a VHS tape is still working after 700 years in a landfill. Not like Betamax. That shit will still work after the sun’s exploded.

For you kids too young to know what Im talking about. There was a war. The good guys lost.

For you kids too young to know what I’m talking about: There was a war. The good guys lost.

Anyway if this review ends up a little on the short side it’s because this movie is not exactly what you call “plotty”. The bulk of the movie is character beats and sight gags strung on a story that could be described with five lines scribbled on a napkin (and probably was). But two important plot points now occur. WALL·E comes across a tiny plant while cubing and decides to take it home. Of slightly more interest, A HUGE MASSIVE FRUCKIN’ SPACESHIP lands nearby so there’s also that.

The ship launches a flying robot named EVE (Elissa Knight) who looks like nothing so much as a marital aid designed by Steve Jobs. Actually, here’s an interesting thought; EVE is clearly meant to look super futuristic and advanced compared to the boxy, low-tech WALL·E. But WALL·E was built around the same time the Axiom launched and EVE must have been built before Directive A113 was issued to the Axiom warning it not to return to Earth (otherwise, why bother building a robot to survey a planet you already know is irretrievably polluted?) meaning she must have been built within a few years of Axiom’s launch (most likely she was already part of the ship’s robot crew before the launch) because we see Shelby Forthright (Fred Willard) when the Axiom launches and then again giving directive A113 and he’s around the same age both times. My point is, EVE and WALL·E are almost certainly the same age.

 

Yikes. They’re like Sharon and Ozzy. Same age. Vastly different mileage.

Yikes. They’re like Sharon and Ozzy. Same age. Vastly different mileage.

Anyway, EVE waits until the ship has safely flown away and then gives into the impulse to fly joyously through the air. WALL·E watches, absolutely smitten. This, incidentally, is what Pixar does better than anyone and better than anything else they do; not the animation, not the voice acting, not the making-Randy-Newman-tolerable, this; taking inanimate objects and filling them with humanity until they seem more real and human than people.

And theyve been doing it since the very beginning.

And they’ve been doing it since the very beginning.

 

EVE hears WALL·E following her and almost blows his head off with her arm-laser, which of course a robot who’s only purpose is to find life would need.

"I come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill..."

“I come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill…”

When she realises that he’s not a threat though, she ignores him and goes back to scanning the planet and becoming increasingly annoyed when she can’t find what she’s looking for. Finally, after she blasts a flotilla of oil tankers in frustration, WALL·E gets up the courage to talk to her. She asks him what he does (by chirping “DIRECTIVE?”) and he demonstrates by crunching up some rubbish and shitting out a little cube. And it’s not even a good cube.

Alice Facepalm

Okay, clearly this guy has no idea how to approach women. WALL·E ? Wall, my man. Listen up. It’s real simple. When you like a girl you just inspect her anogenital region to make sure she’s in heat. Any other guys start making a move, you just bare your incisors so they know what’s what. Then, all you gotta do is get her in the mood by squeaking vocalisations at around 50kHz ultrasonic. You can try 60kHz but, y’know.

 

“God, I do not miss the scene.”

“Only if she a freak.”

 

WALL·E takes EVE back to his place…

high-five

 

…and shows her his collection of stuff including the video of Hello Dolly (smooth). They try dancing like the characters on the screen and EVE ends up smashing WALL·E into the wall. E.

He’s damaged but is able to find a spare part amongst the body  parts of his former friends that he keeps stashed in his home like Jeffrey Friggin’ Dahmer. He then shows her the plant he found and EVE loses her goddamn mind, tractor beams the plant inside her chest cavity and then goes into sleep mode, with only a flashing green plant icon on her chest showing that she’s even still operable.  WALL·E is distraught, trying everything he can think of to wake EVE up but nothing works. So finally, he just makes his peace with it and they while the way the long days in an idyllic Weekened At Bernie’s-esque existence. But one day WALL·E leaves for work only to return to find that EVE’s spaceship has come back to take her away. He latches onto the spaceship and gets pulled into space. WALL·E is overcome with the sheer beauty of the cosmos and even tries to get EVE to look at the stars through the window.

GOD I WANT TO GIVE HIM A HUG.

GOD I WANT TO GIVE HIM A HUG.

The ship arrives at the Axiom and EVE and a load of other recon droids are taken off the ship and cleaned by more robots including my absolute favourite character in this whole damn thing, the one, the only: M-O. I frickin’ love this little guy. He has one goal in life, to clean. And when he meets WALL·E, who is more dirt now, than machine, he fixates on him like a little plastic Ahab.

m-o

“He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him.”

The Axoim’s head security robot, GO-4, arrives with some flunkies and when he scans EVE and realises that she’s found a plant he raises the alarm and has EVE taken to the bridge with WALL·E following close behind.

Because we cannot have nice things, when this movie first came out it kicked off a backlash among conservatives for supposedly being another example of Hollywood forcing its liberal agenda on an innocent unsuspecting public. This is quite frankly baffling to me as WALL·E is quite possibly the most eloquent and persuasive apologist for conservative values to be released this side of the millennium. And that’s not a criticism, far from it. I may be a liberal, but I’ve always believed that neither side of the spectrum has a monopoly on common sense. WALL·E shows us a future society where mankind has become so completely dependent on the state that it’s basically degenerated to permanent infancy, and where materialism has replaced all sense of the divine. And it makes its argument so coherently and skillfully that it’s kind of hard to disagree with the movie’s points. If conservatives had any damn sense this film would be the new Atlas Shrugged.

And I’m not saying they don’t have any damn sense…

I'm saying that at some point a witch cast a spell and turned their brains to dried sparrow poop.

I’m saying that at some point a witch cast a spell and turned their brains to dried sparrow poop.

 So this is how the movie goes. WALL·E, a Candide-like innocent, wanders through Axiom disrupting all the perfectly maintained systems and basically spreading humanity like a virus and setting off a chain of events that  leads to the overthrow of an entire social order.

Meanwhile, at DreamWorks: DANCE PARTY!

Meanwhile, at DreamWorks: DANCE PARTY!

EVE, with WALL·E in tow, is taken to the bridge where the ship’s autopilot, AUTO (voiced by MacInTalk THE ROBOTS ARE COMING AND THEY WILL KILL US ALL) who awakens the Axiom’s Captain, McCrea (Jeff Garlin) and tells him that one of the probes has found a plant on Earth. He then shows McCrea an instruction video from the BnL CEO Shelby Forthright telling McCrea to put the plant in the ship’s scanner which will cause the Axiom to jump back to Earth. But oh noes! When they open EVE up the plant is gone and McCrea says that EVE must be defective. And the look on EVE’s face is priceless. Let’s just say McCrea can probably thank his lucky stars for Asimov’s first law of robotics and leave it at that. EVE gets sent to maintenance for a check up and  WALL·E  goes with her but not before shaking hands with McCrea. He leaves some dirt on McCrea’s hand which McCrea half interestedly analyses which leads to him learning that “dirt” is called “earth” which just sends him on a binge down the wiki wormhole.

EVE goes in for maintenance but WALL·E thinks she’s being tortured and ends up busting her and all the other crazy malfunctioning robots out of there. EVE, realising that WALL·E is nice and all but is also a threat to the social order, decides to launch him in an escape pod back to his home planet. Yeah. I had an internet girlfriend visit from Germany one time. Same problem. Same solution.

But! As they go to the launch bay they see GO-4 put the plant in an escape pod and launch it into space. WALL·E  and EVE rescue the plant and then stop to have one of the most beautifully romantic scenes in all of animated cinema…

This is our "Lady and the Tramp eating Spaghetti".

This is our “Lady and the Tramp eating Spaghetti”.

And they head back to the bridge to give McCrea the plant. McCrea has now fallen in love with the whole idea of Earth and orders AUTO to place the plant in the holo-scanner but AUTO refuses. He then shows McCrea a second video from Forthright ordering AUTO to stay away from Earth because the planet is polluted past the point of no return. McCrea realizes that the message was broadcast 700 years ago so that obviously it’s probably not up to date with the word on the street. He again orders AUTO to put the plant in the holo-scanner. AUTO’s all “I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave” and the wheel turns heel, confining McCrea to quarters and throwing WALL·E and the plant down the waste disposal.  EVE flies down and manages to save him from being crushed into a cube and thrown into space by his big brothers the WALL·As, massive versions of WALL·E the size of an office building (man, those probably would have been useful cleaning up, y’know, the EARTH). WALL·E is badly damaged but still tries to give EVE the plant but she throws it away, signifying that he is now more important to her than her directive. And WALL·E’s all “That’s real sweet…but that plant will get me back to Earth…where all my spare parts are…and I’m dying…” and she’s all “Oh right. Sorry.”

WALL·E and EVE race to get to the holo scanner assisted by their crazy robot pals and McCrea battles AUTO to retake control of the ship. The AXIOM warps back to Earth and EVE flies WALL·E to his truck and desperately tries to repair him. She does, but at a terrible cost: WALL·E has been restored to factory settings and doesn’t remember anything about EVE or his new friends, and just goes about crunching up garbage into little cubes. But just as EVE has given up all hope, she leans in to kiss him and a little spark passes between them. And just as she’s about to pull away he reaches out and takes her hand and oh God I can’t do this it’s just too perfect and beautiful everything looks like tears…

"Now what do you say?"

“Now what do you say?”

"Sigh. Thank you sir. May I have another?"

“Sigh. Thank you sir. May I have another?”

***

Beautiful, gorgeous, sweet, magnificent, hilarious, heart-breaking, just a real good way to eat some popcorn. One of the very best movies by one of the very best movie studios of all time.

Scoring

Animation 20/20: The end of the world has never looked so gorgeous and, without a doubt, some of the most beautifully subtle character animation I’ve ever seen.

Leads 20/20: Sure they’re just appliances with all the vocabulary of your average pokémon but this is still one of the great love stories of the age.

Villain 16/20: Pixar overcome their only real weakness to create a villain who is genuinely sinister and memorable, even if he doesn’t have that much screentime.

Supporting Characters 20/20: Yes. This is entirely for M-O.

Music 19/20: Take Thomas Newman’s beatuiful, haunting score, mix in some Hello Dolly, classical pieces like Also Sprach Zarathurstra and The Blue Danube top it off with the absolutely gorgeous We’re Going Down by Peter Gabriel and you’ve got yourself one hell of a soundtrack.

FINAL SCORE:  95%

NEXT UPDATE: 17 November 2016

NEXT TIME: “On your left…”

winter-soldier

49 comments

  1. Good review as always, Mouse. You met the challenge well. 🙂

    Remember you said (somewhere) that you can appreciate that Studio Ghibli movies are excellent but they just leave you cold? Yeah, I have the same problem with Pixar. And I don’t know why! It’s so frustrating. I know their movies are great but they just…go over my heart I guess. Even a movie like WALL-E just leaves me with a kinda “Yeah, that was nice. What’s for dinner?” reaction. I am a sad, strange little (wo)man.

      1. Same with me. Some Pixar movies I love (Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, Inside Out etc) and I get the hype. But others (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) just put me to sleep. I was wondering if you ever worked out why Ghibli’s films gave you the cinematic droop? I’ve been trying to work out my Pixar problem for years and it’s still bugging me.

    1. I’ve never ‘got’ The Incredibles either, I always found the ‘meta’ aspects of it to be a bit smug and smartarsey, and been bothered by the way the heroes keep murdering the henchmen and eventually the villain and no one seems to have a problem with it. That fashion designer character also feels completely superfluous and out of place in a childrens’ film.
      I also felt the whole affair had a weird Ayn Rand vibe to it, which I dismissed as just my imagination until Brad Bird went on to make Tomorrowland, which is just Atlas Shrugged for the 21st Century.

      1. I’m not sure that Tomorrowland has all that much in common with Atlas Shrugged. I got the vibe (and apparently a deleted scene confirmed it, from what I read) that the people working there “commuted” between realms back when all the portals were up and running, not simply withdraw from the world and leave it to fend for itself–and that they would do so again, and that one day the plans to open Tomorrowland to the rest of the world would be back on track. (I believe said deleted scene said that many inventions developed in Tomorrowland made their way into our world–including the Internet.)

        Besides, Atlas Shrugged is about the elites withdrawing from the rest of the world and letting it go to pot. Tomorrowland seemed to CONDEMN that idea (which was basically what Nix wanted to do). All the talk at the end was about continuing to make OUR world a better place.

        (I agree the movie had its faults, and I’d have taken Hugh Laurie’s character in a different direction, but overall I liked its message–that resigning yourself to a bad future will only prevent you from doing what it takes to create a good one–and think it’s one we need.)

  2. Was this review at least easier to write than Make Mine Music (or was it Melody Time that was so hard)?
    As a Conservative I agree with you.

  3. This and Ratatouille are my favorite Pixar movies, but nobody must know because if I watch them in the presence of another human being I’ll have to explain the weird allergy I have to absolute perfection which can be mistaken by the casual observer as sniffling like an infant.

    Now to return to my usual regimen of eating steaks while punching monster trucks. On fire. Are the monster trucks on fire, or the steaks, or am I, you might ask? Yes.

  4. That a company was responsible for this never made sense. I mean money wound be worthless if it was the only company around to take people to space.

  5. Someday I am going to see this movie. Someday.

    Oh, and since Winter Soldier is sitting on my shelf right this very moment, I probably don’t have an excuse not to watch it before your next review… 🙄

  6. You just couldn’t resist referencing Donald Trump, could you?

    As for this movie, I…. um…. uhhhhhh………. don’t care much for it? And I personally……………….. rankitinthebottomtwoPixarmoviesalongsideBrave???

    *Massive, loud booing, followed by people rushing at me looking to do considerable harm to me*

    WAIT!!! Before anyone beats me with a whip before proceeding to tar and feather me and then burn me at the stake, let me explain.

    One of the reasons I don’t really like this film is the environmentalist theme it has. Okay, the world of garbage that humans left behind is fine, but then when it gets to the Axiom ship and shows what’s become of the humans, it (the theme) then repeatedly knocks you over the head with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. I feel that the world full of garbage and no humans around says enough, you don’t need to keep hammering it in. And I would’ve liked to have seen the fate of humanity left a mystery instead of seeing what we saw. You get what I’m trying to say here?

    Another reason is the pacing. It just feels a bit too slow to the point where I felt bored watching it and I almost fell asleep. I understand you have to take your time to properly develop things, but surely you can do it a bit faster?

    I think, looking back on it now, if the film had just been about Wall-E, establishing who he is, what he does, and the world he inhabits, meets up with Eve, a futuristic robot, and the two then develop a romantic relationship over the course of the movie, all on Earth, no space travel, no humans, no finding out what happened to them, just these two robots and the blossoming romance between them, and a bit faster pacing, I probably would’ve liked this film more. But as is, I just can’t really enjoy it like I do its predecessors. I guess you could say the second half of the movie really drags it down for me.

    Almost every other Pixar movie (with the exception of Brave, and I haven’t seen The Good Dinosaur yet, so I’ll hold judgment on that one) has SOMETHING in it that keeps my attention (yes, that includes both Cars movies as well) and might make me want to rewatch it, even if I find the movie okay. This film, and Brave, sadly do not.

    I was going to explain another reason, but couldn’t really find a good way to put it and I didn’t want to make this comment too much bigger. I’m going to end this comment here. Toodles!

    1. I disagree with you on WALL-E but Good Dinosaur is so not worth the time. It’s extremely strange, the main character is annoying and the plot is too predictable. The redeeming factor is the cave kid, but it makes no sense for him to act like a dog.

      1. The other redeeming factor is the ABSOLUTELY DROP DEAD GORGEOUS LANDSCAPE ANIMATION I MEAN HOLY FUCKING SHIT THAT MOVIE IS SMURGES SMURGES SMURGES

  7. AAAWWWWWW. HOW SWEEEEETTTT. It was cute to see you avoid Pixar because it’s brilliance will make you tear up so much. After a recent rewatch of this film, it is absolutely brilliant. You captured it so well.

  8. If this was hard to write, Mouse, you didn’t make it look difficult. You’ve done it justice. ^_^

    This movie is an odd little creation. Lovely, to be sure, but definitely odd. To me it definitely feels more like a ‘family’ film than most animated movies. It feels like it was intended for the older members of the family, and it makes me wonder what else Pixar could do if they made another movie with both the artistry and the social commentary of this one.

    Despite the ruination of the earth, it doesn’t seem to me like that is actually the moral of the story. It’s more like setup. After all, it doesn’t really offer any solutions to the problem of environmental destruction for the audience. I think the real central theme is more of an exploration of our relationship with technology.

    With Wall-E himself, there lies an implicit question of whether it’s right to make an intelligent machine. He’s alone for an awfully long time. He’s capable of suffering. Sure, the story works out okay for him, but what kind of people are we if we create an artificial intelligence specifically for a job no other sentient being could tolerate?
    AUTO and the personal holoscreens are coming closer to us every day. Many of us already spend hours a day on the computer. Right now, I’m talking to all of you, even though outside is a beautiful day filled with wonders (or searing midday UV that I just got out of, but y’know). Self-driving cars are just around the corner. How much are we willing to give ourselves over to our technology? And if we decide we want to take back control, what if they don’t let us?
    These, to me, seem like the real questions of the film. I’ll freely admit to being a greenie, but I think the way ‘Wall-E’ posits these questions is more interesting than a simple ‘we’re making too much garbage’ (although I went on my first dumpster dive the other day and we are DEFINITELY making too much garbage).

    Final note for Lotus, Honky, Jen, Ani-Com and any of you other regulars who miss Under the Doona: I’m back in the blogosphere and better than ever with Amelia Mellor’s Fantastic Narratograph. It’s not a review blog; I’m doing something a bit closer to my own voice, posting about my books, art and creative process. Stay tuned next Tuesday for a poem that was too rude for the Whittlesea Country Music Festival.

    https://ameliamellorsfantasticnarratograph.wordpress.com/

    1. I never got the impression that Wall-E’s sense of personality and agency was built into his programming. Rather, I inferred that it was merely a side-effect of his multiple centuries of isolation. It’s sort of what Pascal was saying about existentialism; if one were too have enough free time to ponder and reflect on their existence, that will inevitably bum them the hell out, leading to a plethora of distractions in order to get by.

      Heck, Wall-e could be considered very Sisyphean when you think about it: No matter how many garbage skyscrapers he builds, the landscape will never be cleaned, as was his supposed directive. Wall-E pushes through anyways, collecting all sorts of strange knick-knacks along the way as he does.

      1. True, but I still think the robots, being the heart of the film, are its thematic centre as well. It reads more interestingly as a comment on our relationships with machines than as a piece of eco fiction. After all, the worst waste we’re producing is the stuff you can’t see.

  9. Wall-e is a damn great movie but it’s not personally one of my favorite Pixar films. It is one of the 10 Pixar films that I think have a legitimate case for being their best though (the others being the Toy Story trilogy, Monster’s Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, and Inside Out). Pixar’s output is absolutely friggin incredible.

    Also, Mouse, are you implying that the studio that gave us Sid, Stinky Pete, Hopper, Randall Boggs, Syndrome, Anton Ego, and Lotso isn’t capable of making great villains?

      1. OK, fair. That’s about the tier I put almost all of Pixar’s villains, very good but never all time great

    1. I’d make the argument (and we’ll probably discuss it more if Mouse ever does Ratatouille, which I will probably throw money towards next time I get the chance because I want another mouse’s opinion about that film) that Anton Ego isn’t precisely a villain. Disney villains (and to a large extent Pixar villains) don’t change their minds! They’re VILLAINS! Anton Ego learns from his mistakes, changes his behavior and attitude, and joins the side of the protagonists almost immediately. You don’t see that from Cruella or Ursula.

      …And whoever tries to bring up Treasure Planet, fine, but you’re stretching yourself pretty thin to look to that film for a defense.

      1. Just because other Disney and Pixar villains don’t do that doesn’t mean Ego isn’t a villain. There are many ways to defeat a villain, getting them to join the protagonist’s side is one of them.

      2. If you’d asked me, I’d have said the bad guy in Ratatouille was Skinner. But perhaps that’s just me.

    2. The only one I think of as ‘great’ is Syndrome, he strikes the perfect balance between comedy and genuine menace, and his design shows that very well, with his goofy hair and face juxtaposed with a pretty sinister outfit.

      In most cases, I think Pixar’s protagonists are well developed enough that they don’t really need to have great villains. At very least they do better than most of the MCU where the bad guys tend to be completely one dimensional and feel like they could easily be cut out of the film with very little difference.

    3. Hopper is one of my favorite villains in an animated movie, now that you mention him.

      Heck, I’ll defend A Bug’s Life as a whole until the sun burns out.

    4. The only Pixar villains worth a darn are Syndrome, Hopper and Lotso. Randall had the potential but never quite got there, too much of a Smug Snake. Everyone else was unthreatening, a non entity, a mere plot excuse, or forgettable.

  10. I really like WALL-E, but it’s not in my top 5 Pixar. Of course, that says more about Pixar than it does about WALL-E.

  11. This has nothing to do with anything but has anyone else noticed that Pixar films often use the same villain archetype: an older man who acts like a grandfatherly mentor to the main characters before revealing himself as evil because he was hurt deeply in the past? I count four of them (Stinky Pete, Lotso, Mr. Waternoose and Muntz) and from a studio that sometimes doesn’t even have villains, that’s quite a lot.

    1. Interesting thought. Perhaps that’s another point for Syndrome to me (seeing as he was basically the opposite of that, being hurt by his supposed mentor).

      Now I can’t help but wonder if there might be some sort of Freudian thing going on, maybe a semi-subtle reflection of some kind of sour Disney-Pixar relations? Though then again, naming Muntz after the guy who infamously screwed Walt Disney himself over seems to suggest otherwise.

  12. When the movie did come out Mouse, I believe it was during the summer, because I was volunteering at my Mom’s job when I overheard a discussion with her co-workers about the movie, and one of them did make it out to sound preachy, like “A Very Special Episode”-levels of subtlety over consumerism. Later that year, I arbitrarily asked for the movie for Christmas, and my parents got one of those two-disc special editions, where the box opened up like slides on each side. Everything you detailed in your review above (The animation, the plotting, the characters) all struck a major chord with me…and I didn’t feel the second half was preachy at all.

    Andrew Stanton stated (Say that five times fast) that the general idea that became Wall-E at that coffee meeting was “Trash Planet”, in effect the first half of the film. How the planet became so polluted, for the longest time of development, was very low on general concerns (Your mention on the early drafts depicting the amorphous “Gel” aliens was exemplary of this attitude). Even adding humans in later, the core of the story had always been between EVE and Wall-E, which can I say, is one for the ages. As I always say, I’m usually not a sentimental guy, but the ending here is another one of those that gets me every time.

    And I vigorously agree Mouse, M-O is the best secondary character ever. Do you remember the end of the floating in space scene, where the two accidentally locks a maintenance robot outside? That guy’s name is Burn-E, and he has his own short-film where Wall-E’s antics puts a real dent in his work day.

    (Also, I I may get onto my Soap Box for one moment, I find it hilarious whenever certain groups suspect movie studios, particularly animation ones, of having some sort of ulterior agenda in their films, when in reality a big part of planning and marketing in animation concerns appealing to as wide a demographic as possible in order to make back revenue. I even once found an old article claiming Dinosaur was Disney’s method of pushing evolution onto children,)

    On an unrelated note, have you seen Lindsay Ellis’ recent video essay about Disney’s Hercules?

  13. If you want Pixar movies that are easier to criticize, I’d suggest The Good Dinosaur and Monsters ‘Dear God, But We Don’t Measure Up To The Original’ University.

    As a matter of fact, I’ll be a heretic and say I never understood what’s supposed to be so good abour Ratatouille, a film that baffles me and which is a chore for me to sit through. Or, for that matter, what’s so abominable about Brave, which I find to be a very good film. As a matter of fact, if I had to do a Pixar Top Five it’d be: 1- The Incredibles, 2- Wall-E, 3- Monsters Inc., 4- Inside Out/Finding Nemo draw, 5- Brave. Be warned I haven’t watched Finding Dory yet.

    Those six are great, but everything else… eh. Both Cars are trash, the Toy Story movies are okay but never really did anything The Brave Little Toaster didn’t greatly outdo in the span of a single movie, the only really good part about Up are the first ten minutes, the only good part about A Bug’s Life was Hopper. It doesn’t help that, overall, the Disney Animated Canon, to me at least, feel like they have everlasting universal appeal, while with Pixar, save a few exceptions, they feel too much like a product of modern American/First World sensitivities. I can’t say it as well as I’d want to, but they tend to be very ‘American white bread’ movies, with the ultimate example being Monsters U, aka American College The Movie.

  14. Wow, look at you reviewing a Pixar movie like a big boy (yeah you’ve already reviewed the Cars movies, but I don’t think either of us would say that counts). I’ve got to say, Wall-E is actually surprisingly forgettable to me. Considering it came out in a pretty memorable year of my life (seriously, if I were a society, 2008 would probably be the equivalent of the Birth of Christ or something), you’d think this would be a big one for me, but it’s probably one of the most overshadowed among the Pixar movies. Perhaps it suffers from pure bad luck, as this is one of the few Pixar movies I’ve only seen once, but that’s the same for Toy Story 3 and Inside Out, which I’d both likely put pretty high on my favourites list. Maybe they just have the luck of being in my more recent memory (and in Toy Story 3’s case being part of a saga I’m very familiar with)? Who knows. But Wall-E’s certainly far from bad. In any case, it certainly represents a strong point in Pixar’s finding its way into its niche of heartstring-tugging it’s now renowned for.

  15. Well, I guess the angry mob is happy they finally can stop twiddling their thumbs. At least you didn’t say the same thing about Finding Nemo or Toy Story, that probably actually would make the internet a-splode (ok, probably just this blog, maybe, but anyway). Speaking of Finding Nemo, Cinema Sins managed to make a Finding Nemo episode, so I think if they can handle Pixar (while solely trying to look for flaws at that), so can you, because you are a star reviewer! I dunno though, I’d say if you’re singing about America during the Final Frontier, the Simon & Garfunkel song might be better what with the frontier-ness of it all. But I digress.

    Ha ha, I think I’ve come to know you very well, Mouse. Saw that Part of Your World bit coming a mile off, and it still made me smile. So did that name pun because I am an utterly hopeless pun junkie. Y’know, I actually kind of found the original idea for this movie with the Gels interesting (from what I’ve heard, the twist ending would’ve been that those “aliens” were actually descendants of humans that had adapted for a space environment where you didn’t have to do much), and interesting argument for how this movie can be considered pro-conservative. Though in any case, looking back, I still have to wonder how the ecology of the Earth could survive bottlenecking into about 3 or so species (maybe a handful more if you count the bacteria, but how many kinds of those would the Axiom-dwellers actually have in them?). I mean, I guess that’s still supposedly more than what the Earth started with, but humanity wouldn’t have much to go on in such a world. I don’t even remember it being confirmed if that plant was an edible variety, but then again, if we’re talking a species who could breed almonds into food… Ok, maybe I’m doing that thing where I don’t shut up again, so I guess I’ll quit while I’m ahead at this point.

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