The Scientific Indian

WALL-E Movie – Short Review

Last Saturday, we went to see WALL-E with our 4 year old niece. It’s the story of an ordinary cleaning robot (WALL-E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) that, well, keeps cleaning a city on earth long after humans have left earth. Humans left earth because they had turned it into a garbage heap. They have all run away from earth when it got too messy on a spaceship operated by a giant business corporation – the same corporation that ran earth aground. The escapees hope that once earth fixes herself, humans can all come back and re-colonize. Since many generations pass on Spaceship, the current generation has a hard time recognizing this purpose. And they are not helped by the Auto-pilot that decides earth is crap and there’s no point returning. Caught in the grand backdrop is the life and love of our little robot hero.

The story is simple as expected. It has an environmental message for children. I am not keen on messages (Disney obviously disagrees) in artistic endeavors. So, I’ll skip talking about this.

What’s great about the movie is the excellent animation sequences. There’s some impressive rendering of earth is all it’s glorious future muck – including near-earth filled with orbital debris and a city (New York?) with piles of crushed junk packed by WALL-E into towering skyscrapers of crap. There’s a bit of science, mostly notable for it’s glaring omissions. A sample of the omissions:-
-humans have been traveling in space for 700 years. A robot (Eva, the heroine) sent to find if life has re-started on earth comes back with good news. Why didn’t humans just hang about in the vicinity while earth recovered instead of going into cold and cruel interstellar space no one will tell you. You see, if they tell you that they can’t use the hyper-space kaleidoscope footage.

-humans lead a charmed life on the Spaceship. Who pays for it is a question you can’t ask, because if you do, you won’t get to see all the cool gadgets and stuff on the spaceship. Besides, if you ask, how can you enjoy the cliches about future humans – you know, things like humans losing bone mass and becoming blobs of flesh perpetually connected to a wired world served by all kinds of bots….

Fortunately, this is a kids movie and kids have their priorities right. As long as WALL-E keeps bumping onto things and rolling in a funny way, no one would think of these questions.

That said, this is a great animation movie with impressive imagination (Pixar’s hand here). Adults can watch it for this reason. For kids, this is another robot movie with clean entertainment and an environmental message (Disney’s hand here).

Oh, and nobody recognized the music WALL-E played upon reboot in the theater where I watched.


  1. #1 T. Bruce McNeely
    July 21, 2008

    I saw this with my 2 daughters (7 and 9) along with their friend. Great movie!
    I LOLed at the reboot music. So did a few others in the audience. It’s like a secret society!

  2. #2 Dinesh
    July 21, 2008

    It does the Mac chime on reboot ?

  3. #3 Selva
    July 21, 2008

    >It does the Mac chime on reboot ?

  4. #4 yttrai
    July 21, 2008

    I’m not a big fan of messages myself, but there was a moment when The Big Stick Hitting Us With The Message became clear, and i started cracking up uncontrollably. “It’s Brave New World for 5 year olds!”

    On the other hand, that book scared me into being the recycling/reduce/reuse freak that i am. So perhaps The Big Stick Message isn’t completely a bad thing?

  5. #5 peter
    July 21, 2008

    idle thoughts that may be possible answers to your questions.

    1. they went farther away because the whole point in them leaving was so they wouldn’t really know what was wrong. (or the extent anyway) As I recall, the original intent was only to be gone for a short while, instructions to Otto from upper management took them further afield.

    2. the ship was created by the corporation “buy n large”, who do you think paid for it? the consumers of buy n large. you didn’t think that the occupants of the ship were a broad spectrum of humanity did you? those were either buy n large management, shareholders or people who could afford the trip. after a little while, the only major cost involved in their lives is whatever was ‘Ina Cup!’ for that day. and while buy n large didn’t seem too big on recycling, they might have made an exception out of necessity…

  6. #6 Curt
    July 21, 2008

    Other plot inconsistencies that I’ve noticed, but didn’t keep me from enjoying the movie:

    If Otto (auto-pilot) was so keen on not returning to Earth, why send EVE-ah at all?
    WALL-E survives occasional sandstorms, were those generated by other EVE robots returning to check Earth out? I wondered because the return of the mother ship whipped up a major storm, too.
    If they have the technology to recycle and build a sustaining environment that lasts 700 years on a spaceship, why not apply it to the problem on Earth in the first place?

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