Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wall-E briefly reviewed, sort of

I'm quite late posting my review (I watched the movie months ago, shortly after it was released in cinemas), but here it is, finally.

This film is brilliant in so many ways. It pays subtle homage to other sci-fi movies, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, E.T., and Short Circuit. In the credits there's also plenty of visual homage to Seurat, Van Gogh, and even Atari. Rarely have I enjoyed a film so thoroughly, and the inside jokes for Apple fans are sprinkled throughout - from Wall-E's solar charging completion sound (taken from a rebooting Mac) to the Axiom autopilot (a synthesized Macintalk voice) to the video-capable iPod on which Wall-E views the Broadway musical that taught him about romantic love. There are clever touches and Easter eggs throughout — among the space detritus circling the Earth, Sputnik bobbing in the wake of the ship carrying EVE and Wall-E to the Axiom, and as the Axiom roared past the moon, the lower stage of the Eagle lunar lander, a lunar rover, and a U.S. flag, all reminders of NASA's Apollo space program. Much has been written about the relationship between Wall-E and EVE, but EVE's rebellion against the "Directive" revels in the notion that love can ultimately triumph over all obstacles. Robot love, that is. A bit of a stretch, perhaps, but the humans eventually pick up the hint.

How ironic that future humans are revived from their sybaritic stupor by a lonely, geeky trash compactor and his feisty robot girlfriend. More importantly, perhaps, is the surprising level of cultural self-parody (and criticism) throughout. In fact, it reminds me of The Story of Stuff. Many commentators bristle at the (supposed) environmental scaremongering they see in the film. On the contrary, the movie's dystopian view of our future is entirely appropriate.

Dismissive reviewers might want to look in the mirror to see if they bear any resemblance to the dumbed-down captain of the Axiom, since they seem to have missed the point of the film entirely. There are plenty of movies that cater to philistines. Wall-E is not one of these. If you haven't seen it, rent or buy the DVD when it comes out in November.
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