I saw the new Pixar movie Wall-E this past weekend, and it was a visual marvel. I've long since stopped really noticing that these animated movies are animated, because the techniques and tools have progressed so far. (Did you even notice the appearance of actual live non-computer-generated footage?)
From a straight movie perspective, it was ok — certainly not my favorite Pixar movie. But what it lacked in strong actor presence it made up for with educational value. Here are the top seven things I learned about life from watching Wall-E.
** Warning: Potential Spoiler Alert **
- Capitalism is bad — The movie takes place some 700 years after an exodus of humanity from a trashed and poisoned Earth. Presumably, this is the result of the "benign" rule of the BnL corporation. So, the big bad corporation is the cause of the downfall of Earth. (I'm guessing that between the technological requirement of Wall-E and the political requirement of a corporation taking over a united Earth, I'm pegging the exodus at a hundred years or so from now.)
- Apple is good — Talk about product placement, way to go Steve Jobs! From the still functioning 800 year old iPod to the Macintosh startup sound when Wall-E reboots, it's nice to see that the rumors of Apple's imminent demise have been (greatly) exagerated.
- People are sheep — We let the corporation take over the world, we let (helped?) them trash and poison it, and then we let them talk us into running away from the problem. Then, given the "Shangri-La" environment of the Axiom, we devolved into overweight, glowing screen addicted blobs. (Oh wait, that last part isn't really evolution, now that I think about it…)
- People are adaptable — After a seeming lifetime of relative ignorance, the Captain stays up into the night querying the ship's computer (Sigourney Weaver in her finest ship performance since Futurama) about Earth. John and Mary instinctively seize on their new-found freedom once made aware of the "real world" by Wall-E, and sacrificed their own safety to protect a sliding mass of children on the Ledo deck. Seemingly nobody on-ship objects to returning to Earth and starting anew. Yes, people seem to have an inherent attraction to what's fundamentally right and a curiousity about what's around them.
- Computers are evil — The autopilot deviously tried squashing concrete fact in order to maintain its hold on power. (Where have I heard that before?) The repair bots tried to "fix" EVA in a move reminiscent of Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest". Hell, EVA tried blowing Wall-E away on several occasions. They just can't be trusted. (Except, of course, for the computer I'm typing this on… heh heh…)
- Robots are good — EVA and Wall-E were just doing their jobs, but realized that there was a new directive worth striving for. The "broken" bots also pitched in to help them achieve that goal, as did the writhing mass of humanity. Ultimately, the bots tried to do what's best for us.
- Stuff lasts forever — Come on, a Rubix Cube, iPod, and Atari 2600 that are still in one piece 800 or more years later? I have a cube that didn't last 5 years in my closet, and who knows where my 2600 is. Still, the idea that our trash is still around hundreds of years later rings true. After all, I've been to New Jersey.
Some of these may seem contradictory, but that's the nature of the future. And of cartoons. So deal with it.