Thursday, July 03, 2008

WALL'E -- an animated look at our future, until we go green

First, before getting on with the review, I note that Walt Disney Pictures has one of the best movie trademarks in the business. I love the model kingdom and little train heading toward the Magic Kingdom. But I find myself wondering, what if the Kingdom were Yzordderrex, the towering city in the Second Dominion in Clive Barker’s 1991 novel “Imajica”.

There is enough magic of sorts in Pixar’s new movie WALL’E (or "WALL*E") (directed and written by Andrew Stanton). We’ve all seen the cardboard models of the robot in the lobbies of movie theater chains. I haven’t gotten around to getting a picture yet.

The movie starts 700 years in the future, where global warming has ruined the world, and the City (I guess it’s LA, or maybe Manhattan -- it's hard to tell) is covered with compacted waste that lines the skyscrapers, that the robots keep packing on. Sudden Santa Anna dust storms can come down at any moment. The atmosphere is thick and particulate, rather hard to achieve in animation. Then we have the story of Wall’e and the search robot EVE. They wind up at a space station somewhere around Saturn called Axiom, populated by bloated, decadent people, a bourgeoisie languishing in luxury with limited gravity. Even the captain needs water pills. The space station is pretty interesting, laid out like a Wet ‘n’ Wild water amusement park, with lots of specialized facilities for the robots. The remained of the story has to do with the discovery that green plants may grow on earth again, and that they can go home. They probably don’t want to, as they will live in a Maoist cultural revolution, becoming peasants again under Earth’s gravity.

I could have reviewed this movie under my “films on threats to freedom” blog (the mega-disasters blog), but this movie is so abstract as to be seen for its own art.

The film was accompanied by a 6-minute Pixar short, “Presto and the Hat.” This spoof was an answer to “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige.” Here there is neither. The magician can’t trust the animals helping him behind the curtain. He even loses his trousers, revealing IBM garters from the 50s and bald legs. What an embarrassment.

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