Top critical review
From a parent's point of view
on 19 August 2008
My first hope if not expectation was that this would be a great film for my primary-school age children. The priority for me when I take my family to the pictures (which isn't cheap) is entertainment, not education - there's plenty of environmentally-aware education on television and at school as it is. But it didn't work out the way I hoped, as my younger daughter fell asleep after less than an hour and her older sister was (by her standards) rather restrained in her enthusiasm afterwards. In fact she said she wished she had seen Kung Fu Panda instead...
Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), left behind to clean up the planet after the last humans have left, develops a longing for a more sophisticated robot called Eve and together they manage to travel across space so that Wall-E can be re-united with his human makers. I had heard promising things about this film, including a claim that it would be nominated for Best Film at the next Academy Awards. It tries to put across a message about the dangers of failing to re-cycle all our waste, while trying to keep the kids laughing at the same time. That's a near-impossible task, and the result is a film that contains elements of childhood entertainment and thought-provoking visions of our planet's distant future, but the finished product doesn't seem to know for sure exactly what it is or who it's aimed at. There's very little dialogue for the first half of its 103 minutes, until the scene shifts to a massive spaceship moored somewhere in the solar system and which houses the entire human race. An interesting concept is that humans have evolved in such a way that they are physically much larger but have fewer bones in their bodies, because they don't move or exercise at all as a result of their total dependency upon automatons (in dozens of different guises) to do all functions.
My conclusion was that this was too grown-up a tale for children, but too simplistic for adults. Children may not understand the message that is being sent, as all they want is to enjoy a film. Adults won't gain a thing in terms of knowledge because it is science FICTION, and not fact. If adults want to gain some insight into the planet's future that is more factually based then I suggest they check out "An Inconvenient Truth" as it is apparently far more focused - and credible - than this animated film. By trying to cover all bases (entertainment of kids, education for one and all) the result is a lukewarm success - and that's probably why its box-office takings have been relatively modest. I was also bothered by some physical similarities between Wall-E and E.T. - mostly the head shape from certain angles, and the eyes too; maybe no-one else will think of this but it crossed my mind and the thought would not go away. The symbolic touching of hands sealed it for me, but clearly this was a homage and nothing more - not plagiarism as I initially wondered. The quality of the animation was excellent but did not set a new standard. In a nutshell I was expecting the blockbuster of the year but it was merely quite good, and not a classic by any stretch. I sense that some people will hail its noble intentions but if you think about it, it's fiction and what few facts it contains are none that we don't already know. And most children under 10 will be rather underwhelmed; the theatre I was in was barely one-third full (at a peak viewing time) and despite the majority of watchers being kids it was strangely quiet throughout.
MARSHALL LORD said :-
"The people who gave you "Not helpful" marks for this review ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. You were absolutely right that some children won't like it. Mine didn't either. And IMHO your review would be very helpful in explaining to someone who was wondering whether to get it for their kids why this film might or might not go down well with them."
"I must second Marshall Lord - it isn't the worst review by far. It isn't even a bad review at all.