Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wall-E Death Race

My weekend's TV entertainment has been...varied. Last night, Cody and I finally watched Wall-E. Having thought the movie was about a robot on Mars (I don't know where I got that idea), the movie plot was totally unexpected. I loved that a robot could convey so much emotion without dialog (or much dialog). I though the story was really well worked, the secondary characters rather flat and predictable (is that to be expected in a kid's film?), and the message so heavy-handed it went beyond annoying back to okay again (I don't know how--Cody still didn't enjoy being beaten over the head with the message). It was cute. It was entertaining. And it ended just how I wanted it to.

Today, we watched Death Race. I love Jason Statham, and he was the only reason I considered seeing the film. In comparison with Wall-E--aside from the obvious--it was easy to pick out the forced character development and forced plot conflicts. In fact, there wasn't character development. There wasn't much of a theme, unless you could count "freedom is the only thing worth dying/fighting for," which I'd give you, if you did decide that, yes, for some reason, you're counting. There wasn't even much of a plot: Guy gets thrown in jail; guy is a badass; guy is also a badass racer (though this doesn't come up until he's in jail, which was a flaw even for such a flatline movie); and guy has to race for his life. But it was entertaining! The car races were entertaining. It was everything I expected in the movie (with all the elements that reaffirmed my reasoning for not seeing it in the theater). It even ended how I wanted it to (even if the ending was just as forced as the rest of the plot points).

Which movie did I like better? It's actually very hard for me to say. I saw both purely for entertainment. I no expectations for either. I've not liked the last few Pixar films (I'm tired of them always picking a male protagonist, too!), so I didn't think Wall-E would impress me. It did, but not in a "I want to see that again" kind of way. The same goes for Death Race. It was good, solid entertainment, but I wouldn't want to see it again.

Who would have thought that Wall-E and Death Race would ever come out a tie?

My Favorite Scenes:

Wall-E: When Wall-E and Eve are outside the humans' spaceship after Wall-E's pod explodes and Wall-E has the fire extinguisher. It was romantic, it was elegant, and it looked like a lot of fun.

Death Race: When Jason Statham is doing pull ups in his cell. The scene is very short, but still, um, elegant in its own way.

9 comments:

Midgard Dragon said...

Sorry, but the "heavy handed" card with WALL-E is the stupidest repeated nonsense ever. Stanton himself will tell you he never once set out to write an environmental parable, and that the humans weren't about "fat" but about disconnect from what makes us human. If there's one thing WALL-E is not and will never be, it's heavy handed.

TikiBird said...

MD, Rebecca actually didn't refer to the fat humans--I don't think she was implying that's what "the message" was at all.

As for Stanton denying the environmental overtones of WALL-E (which, incidentally, I think is a thought-provoking movie, heavy-handed or not), I'm not so sure his statements to the press are geniune. It comes across more to me as trying to please the most people--even those who don't recycle--and that my beloved Disney/Pixar doesn't want to make any paying customers feel excluded from watching their film. (This article also states the point: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2008/06/pixar_on_walle_environmental_t.html.)

In any case, Rebecca, thanks for your take on the movie. I don't think WALL-E is really a kids' movie--I think it's a movie kids might like parts of, but that is probably more relevant to their parents. It seems like Pixar's films have been steadily progressing to more adult fare. It's interesting that people take their little kids to a movie just because it's animated--and it's amazing that the story can work on so many different levels. My cousin's two-year-old loves WALL-E, and yet adults can still have a whole discussion about its environmental themes and vision of the future of humanity.

Anyway, I thought WALL-E and EVE were cute, but that was about all the cuteness to be found in the film for me--I thought it was pretty bleak, with a glimmer of hope for humanity at the end. But I didn't come away wanting to buy a WALL-E lunchbox and action figure. (Which is perhaps the point, now that I think about it....)

Cody said...

Heavy handed propagandistic goobly gook...
Humans are scum... and robots, obviously, will save us...
That is what I got from Wall-E....
Learn to drive like a car thief... That was the message from Death Race..
Oh, and do pull-ups in a dark cell...
Chicks find that hot.

Rebecca Chastain said...

I had no idea people felt so strongly about Wall-E (and it amuses me that there is now a link to this blog post on Bloodyflix.com under Death Race).

MD--Having never read anything about Wall-E (remember, I thought it was about the Mars robot), it's not possible for me to repeat anything. It was my opinion that the message was heavy-handed. However, you bring up an interesting point that a creator of a film/screenplay could create such a heavy message and not even be aware that's what they're doing. I know that many author's opinions come through in their work unconsciously, and for an opinion to become the overarcing subtheme without the author being aware of it is...interesting, if hard to believe. I do wish you could have managed to state your point without calling me stupid, though.

TikiBird--You're right: I wasn't referring to fat or stationary people as the message; I was referring to the trash and the idea that we as a species are over-consuming and destroying the world.

I liked the New York Times article. I like how it pointed out the absurdity that the Wall-E creator didn't realize or didn't try to put a message into the movie. I can think of a lot of reasons for there to be "the last robot on earth" that don't involve skyscrapers of trash. If anything, Stanton's line in his coprorate-vetted meassage ("The most I do is recycle — and sometimes I'm pretty bad at that, if you talk to my wife.") supports the message of the film--human's willingness to be willfully blind to our destruction and support of destructive habits will lead to our own demise unless we do something about it.

For those of you who can't get TikiBird's link to that artile to work from here, try searching their site with this key phrase: Pixar on ‘Wall-E’: Environmental Themes? It should be the first blog entry that comes up.

Cody--get busy building us those robots! Oh, and let's find you a dark cell...

TikiBird said...

"I had no idea people felt so strongly about Wall-E."

Oh, you know those freakin' Disney/Pixar fans. They're nuts. ;)

Shaida said...

OMG, the pull up scene was totally my favorite scene of Death Race too! Pull ups are even hotter than push ups!

Rebecca Chastain said...

Shaida--Didn't it look like he had muscles on his spine? Crazy!

TikiBird said...

Is having muscles on your spine a good thing?

Rebecca Chastain said...

TikiBird--It's not so much the muscles ON the spine; rather, it's the way the muscles bunch all over the back. You know the saying, "his muscles rippled when he flexed"? That's always conjured a rather nasty, parasite under the skin image for me, but having finally seen it, there's nothing disgusting about it. :)