Saturday, 26 July 2008

Counter-strike


With thanks to www.quinn.echidna.id.au/.../index.html for this stunning and very depressing image.

Conscious as I am of the - shall we say - lack of effort in my last post (though I stand by my right to sing a paean to the boys from Charterhouse, who were such an important part of my teenage years, I do admit that a little more time could and should have gone into the piece) I will now attempt an immediate rebuff with a review of Disney/Pixar's latest offering - Wall.e, which I saw yesterday afternoon. I may well end up dropping a spoiler or two, so please be warned.

Much has been made of this movie, backed up of course with the usual juggernaut of House of Mouse publicity, and having watched it for myself now, I can see where some of the more thoughtful reviewers were coming from. As we have come to expect with the Pixar crowd, the quality is superb (though still somewhat lacking in its depiction of humans) with some truly stunning scenes for us all to enjoy. The film is also immensely brave by modern standards, with the first 30 minutes or so capturing a post-apocalyptic world of discarded waste and the tiny details of the life of the waste collecting robot - Wall.e - as he continues his 700 year long 'directive' of compacting and stacking the massive quantities of rubbish thrown away by the long-departed human race. There is no dialogue for (I think) 23 minutes, and some very touching moments illustrating the utter loneliness of Wall.e's life, by the use of (of all things) Michael Crawford in Hello Dolly.

The logo of the mega corporation Buy 'n' Large is everywhere, from shopping malls to railway stations and airports. It even supplants the President's seal in a TV broadcast - given by the CEO of the company. All of this is superb, and gives the film a bleak and sinister feel, though this is leavened by a good bra gag, and some cute moments with the cockroach sidekick. All in all, extremely promising, and not exactly what you would expect from a mainstream movie of this kind.

My youngest, who is seven, said that she thought this was not a movie for children, and I tended to agree at that point, though there came a noticeable change after about 40 minutes. Eve, the sleek iPod to Wall.e's SE, arrives and - needless to say - catches the eye of the little rubbish collector. There are some stand out moments of what I suppose you would call courtship between the two robots and then we end up on board the Axiom, which is the equivalent of one of the Golgafrinchan arks from H2G2, equipped as it is with the long-departed Earthers, who have been sitting in a gas nebula waiting for the home planet to heal itself, growing immensely fat (though not as fat perhaps as the current US population) and increasingly insular as they hover around on their electric chairs, their every whim attended to by an army of robots. An unanswered question for me is: what happened to the poor people? Could everyone afford to go aboard in this capitalist society? I think not, and it would I think have been far more intriguing to have explored this angle.

There has been some criticism of the film's premise from some on the right in the US, which - surprisingly - I find myself agreeing with. It's as if the director chickened out and opted for a softer direction as the Ark returned to earth (thanks to a rebellion led by Wall.e and Eve, natch, with a fairly disappointing HAL story line to boot) to start all over again, producing, consuming and dumping. What's to stop this new earth ending up the same as the old one?

Is it really likely at the end of the day that Disney is going to send out a message of moderation whilst pushing 15 billion tons of Chinese made plush on the back of each release? Sad to say, it all ended up feeling a little hollow.

7 comments:

victoria n principal said...

Oh, spare me the liberal clap-trap. Clearly, according to God's WORD in the BIBLE, the world was created for us and we use it as we will. Even according to your SCIENCE the universe is an infinite midden and we will never produce enough ordure to fill it.
Although you, sir, are trying your best.

frank rich said...

Is the previous poster for real?
This is an excellent reading of the movie, which I loved of course (see my article on Wall-E for President).

Douglas Rains said...

Hmmm...23 minutes without dialogue? Looks like ya got some Kubrick fans working on this.

h 9000 said...

Which came first, me or that wretched Bomb 20?

Myeral said...

Ultimately of course, we will always return to zero (in terms of energy available) but that won't be much comfort until we can move on to a new world. Let's hope Phoenix manages to scoop some ice into its oven.

ngadef said...

Hi, Al & there I was wondering what you thought of the MOVI-E in the real world. Must catch up soon ;)

Myeral said...

Yes we must. 43 on Thursday.