Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

As I've said before, I think Wall-E is a great movie, an instant classic. But the more I watch it the more certain things bother me about it.

image Let's start with our title character, Wall-E himself. It is apparent early on that he has a personality. He's curious. He likes to explore beyond his main programming, which is apparently picking up and stacking trash. He collects things that interest him. Clearly he's had some kind of malfunction that makes him this way. If we're to believe that he's a robot designed solely to do the above tasks, then there is no reason for him to be curious, watch old movies, or collect things. Our suspicions are confirmed later in the story when Eve saves him and he reverts back to default programming. No curiosity, no personality.

His curiosity provides us with brief bits of comedy. He puts on a bra, honks a car horn, can't decide where to put a spork in his collection. Neat bits, but if we are to believe (as we later learn) that humans have been gone for seven hundred years, does a bra survive intact that long? Can a car's battery - even a futuristic one - hold a charge for that long that is good enough to give us a robust "chirp chirp" from the alarm? Let alone the battery in the remote still be good?

I can accept that Wall-E has had some kind of event that has caused his programming to go off-kilter... until we meet Eve. We know right away that Eve has a personality - she laughs. She also floats, which we'll get to later.

image What possible reason could there be for Eve to have a personality? Her job is to hunt for life - apparently only plant life, because the cockroach doesn't excite her. She doesn't need curiosity, just persistence. But she can laugh, turn on light bulbs, and solve a Rubik's cube. All apparently essential qualities for a robot who's sole purpose is to ferret out life from garbage.

And Eve can just float. And she has a beam that can grab things and float them to her - a tractor beam, if you will. Even though we watched all the ships take off in clouds of thunder and smoke, she can float. Even though the humans left behind thousands (or millions?) of Wall-E's to stack the garbage, she has a tractor beam. Technologically, she's as far advance from Wall-E as he is from Hero-1. But we're to be believe that they were both made by the same people... at around the same time. After all, when we finally get to see the humans we can't believe they've done much but eat and sit. They certainly don't appear to have innovated anything since they left. We see giant Wall-E's on the 'mother ship' and they aren't improved in any way. So why the difference? Why can't Eve be a clunking pile of barely functioning junk?

Her arm is an amazing weapon. What for? Blasting things out of the way so she can find life? No, she apparently tries to shoot anything that moves, which would appear to go against her purpose. But again we get a bit of comedy as Wall-E frantically tries to avoid destruction.

Oh, and she can solve the Rubik's cube. Why? What possible purpose could that ability have to enhance her main function? Perhaps her programmers expected to find life embedded or hidden in a senseless puzzle?

image We finally make it to the ship. Perhaps we'll find some consistency there. Or not.

We're led to believe that the humans are couch-bound lumps, barely able to lift limbs to feed themselves. Indeed, they appear to eat everything through a straw. They lay in couches and watch a magic screen that floats above them apparently all day. When Wall-e knocks one woman's screen away, she's amazed at the ship around here, like it's something she's never seen before.

The ship has apparent artificial gravity -- when things are dropped they fall -- but when Otto turns the ship's wheel to tilt the ship, everyone slides to one side.

Yet the humans have managed to reproduce. Perhaps they grow the new humans, in vats or artificial wombs. We really only see them interacting with robots and image screens, so maybe.

When the time comes for the Captain to walk he does so with relative ease, to the point of fighting off Otto the autopilot. Even though moments before he had struggled to lift his head far enough to suck on his coffee straw.

And then of course, all of the humans discover that they can walk with relative ease. Amazing.

So Wall-E. Really, a great great movie, I haven't changed my mind. Just bring your extra - large "Willing Suspension of Disbelief" cap.

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