POLL: ‘Dark Knight’ or ‘WALL-E?’ Take your stand.

Posted by · 11:27 am · December 10th, 2008

Okay, now that things are finally happening this awards season, I feel inspired to create another poll.  It’s been a while.  The last time around, the vast majority of you felt Heath Ledger was a lock to win Best Supporting Actor, and forgive, but this week we have “The Dark Knight” in the mix once again.

I’m frankly fascinated by the lines being drawn in the sand on behalf of Christopher Nolan’s film and Pixar’s “WALL-E,” the second and first place finishers with yesterday’s LAFCA vote and two of the most popular, yet critically acclaimed films of the year.  The fights have certainly erupted here and here, and I’m all for the heated discourse.  But I thought I’d get a gauge on the overall opinion on which is the better film.

So, have your say in the sidebar poll!  It’s not to say one can’t be a fan of both, but tell us which film you think is the better achievement, “The Dark Knight” or “WALL-E.”




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74 responses so far

  • 1 12-10-2008 at 8:52 pm

    Joe.F said...

    I gotta disagree with you Scott…

    I mean its impossible to sway your opinion when you are already claiming a film that came out less then a year ago IS a classic. Dark Knight is a great film, one of the best of the year, but in my opinion its flawed, as numerous people have already pointed out. There could easily be 20 minutes trimmed from it, except i feel they were kept just to give the film a “epic feel”. Honestly, much like with “There Will Be Blood” I feel in 10 years, it will be a film that is known for a single, great performence, rather then a film as a whole. Its not a horribly innovative film, it did nothing for the comic book genre that Batman Begins didnt already do (and did not make ANY creative changes in the crime/thriller genre)… It just took those elements and made them better… Its the Halo equivilent to film. Halo is not a very innovative video game, but it took all great elements and combined them to make a solid film.

    Wall-e, in my opinion in 10 years will be known as another film that bridges the gap between animation and high quality film. It will be the film people say “got them to look at animation as an artform”. Its first act will still be considered a masterpiece. I feel over all wall-e is a better film then dark knight. I left Wall-e completely speechless, wondering if i did infact see the greatest animated feature of all time. I left the midnight showing of Dark Knight questioning why i didnt like it as much as everyone around me.

    So in essence, in my opinion, Its Wall-E’s first act and Dark Knight’s Joker that will be the main selling points of the films in 10 years.

  • 2 12-10-2008 at 9:09 pm

    Lane said...

    I agree with what Zan said about Wall-E. When a film tries too hard with a slap-in-the-face-social-commentary, I am just pulled right out of the experience.

  • 3 12-10-2008 at 10:38 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    (It’s rather long but I’m getting really sick of this season being about The Dark Knight vs. Wall-E especially when there shouldn’t even be a discussion)

    Joe, I can’t read into the future, but I really don’t feel that it’s my opinion that The Dark Knight will will attain classic status in that it will be talked about for many years to come. I mean over half a billion dollars at the box office – that won’t go away quickly, if ever at all.

    About the issue that it is flawed. While some people say it’s perfect, I have never said that. I have said that I think it is as close to an entertaining masterpiece as you will find. Not one single person who has said that the movie is a little long has provided a halfway legitimate response on why it is too long. I’m still waiting.

    And you clearly didn’t see the spotless critiques of capitalism, christianity, father-son relations, and institutions in There Will Be Blood as I did. Not saying you missed the point, but I actually think that it and Into The Wild, and possibly Michael Clayton will be the three films that age best from ’07 (No Country will only be seen as arguably the Coens best).

    Even most of the the people who have orgasms over Wall-E admit that the last third or so gets obviously preachy and goes downhill. The first part of the film was cute and enjoyable, but I don’t see how in the hell it can be so great to where it makes up for the final part and earns the entire film the title of a classic.

    People the first half of Wall-E merely showed a deserted and desolate earth with a cute little robot moving trash around and the audience chuckles at how naive it is and then a girl robot shows up and Wall-E likes her because he wants a companion and it is in his naive nature to like other things and assume that they are as nice as he his.

    I repeat, what in the hell about that has everyone in a tizzy.

    When is the last time you heard Ratatouille mentioned. While not garnering the undeserved praise Wall-E has, it was received very well and in a great year for film, even made several top ten lists from some esteemed critics (A.O. Scott – #2). But unless you watched it last night, you haven’t thought of it in a while have you? That’s because that Pixar films are fun to watch and laugh about from time to time when brought up, but that ‘s about it unless you are a computer geek or a child. With ever three or four Pixar flicks, people go crazy over one of them and the other one’s get kind of pushed to the side.

    I really think that even the people at Pixar go to work each day shaking their heads over how people are talking about this movie. People, it’s not really up for argument that these movies are completely geared for children. That doesn’t mean that adults can not enjoy them, but taking it to this level is a little absurd.

    Do you really think Pixar expects children to sit around drinking Kool-Aid and compare the social commentary of Wall-E to our modern day world and the direction that we are headed as a society. Hell no!!! While there are people who I am sure enjoy making these pictures, which is fine, the main reason that they get off the ground is because the studio knows that children will drag their parents to every single one of their movies and five months later they will drag them to Wall-Mart to buy the DVD. It’s an ingenious, endless money machine. Not to be interpreted, not to be greatly praised as quality film making, and certainly not meant to be up for Best Picture consideration.

  • 4 12-10-2008 at 10:52 pm

    red_wine said...

    http://www.theyshootpictures.com/21stcentury_films1-50.htm

    Check this out. Incredibles and Nemo are considered to be 2 of the greatest films of the current century. Apart from Cars, the last 4-5 Pixar films were the best reviewed films in their respective years including Wall-E this year.

    Is it then a conspiracy, that year after year, Pixar movies are some of the most celebrated by the critics, maybe they have their children write reviews for them?

    If you could get over your insane bias that animation is for kids, you will begin to appreciate the vast amount of art and skill that goes into making these films.

    Wall-E is the most ambitious of all films made this year, its also of the most expensive, more expensive than TDK and took a hell lot of time to make than TDK. It was officially in the making for 7 years.

    A silent film with a love story stretching across the galaxy with only robots as your lead character and spending 180 million dollars and 7 years on it, yep, that takes balls the size of canons.

  • 5 12-10-2008 at 11:40 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Red Wine you either misinterpret severely or jump to assumptions.

    1) For starters, the list you provide is of the most acclaimed films of the decade, not the best films. There is a big difference. But this list and Pixar’s critical acclaim do not surprise me in the least. I myself gave most of their films, Wall-E among them, positive reviews. It has always been my stance that the movie achieves its goal of being entertaining for about about ninety minutes. What you and others should realize is that there are vastly different levels of positive reviews. In another post I provided a lengthy example of the difference in movies like A Clockwork Orange and movies like Wall-E. On just about every single ratings site where they show percentage approvals, A Clockwork Orange will have a lower rating than Wall-E. Does this mean Orange isn’t as good? Of course not. A movie such as it is bound to push some people’s buttons and for others it may not be their taste, therefore explaining the negative reviews. But a movie like Wall-E is easily enjoyed by just about everyone, hence the higher rating. If you think making Wall-E takes balls, I don’t know how in the hell you classify the ambition of A Clockwork Orange.

    So no, it is not a conspiracy that children are writing the reviews. If you would pay attention to what I say I wouldn’t have to be telling you this.

    2) Once again, if you would pay attention to what I say, you would know that I never said that animation is for kids. I said it was geared toward kids. There is a big difference. Tonka Trucks and Tickle Me Elmo are FOR kids, while 99% of anything animation is primarily geared towards pleasing children. And again if you would simply read the entire post you would find where I said that by no means does this mean that adults can not enjoy animation.

    So please, I’m begging you, show me where my bias is.

    3) I think that you’re trying to say that because people spent more time on Wall-E and because its budget is bigger then that means it is ambitious. As I said, every Pixar film is guaranteed box office success. No studio takes a risk on these films because after box office and DVD and toys and everything else they will get their money back plus more. Do you seriously think that children are going to read online reviews or comments in the paper about an animated film? No, they are simply going to scream to their parents that they have to take them to see the movie after they see the trailer on TV. Also, everyone knows that it takes a long time to make anything animated. A shitty 23 minute episode of The Simpsons that airs on Sunday takes about seven months, so that point is completely irrlevant.

    Money and time spent don’t make Wall-E ambitious.

  • 6 12-11-2008 at 12:11 am

    Scott Ward said...

    Also meant to point out that any negative comment I have had towards Wall-E, aside from the statement that the final third part of the film wanes, is completely in refutation of people’s comments that the film is a masterpiece, or ambitious, or a true work of art.

    And that last sentence should say “doesn’t make Wall-E ambitious” not don’t.

  • 7 12-11-2008 at 6:24 am

    red_wine said...

    First things first, there can only ever be most acclaimed films list, because any greatest films list would be that person’s personal opinion. So the most acclaimed lists are the closest we can get to a general consensus amongst people who know what they are talking about. We have to take what we get.

    Secondly, as you would know, modern review sites apply only to modern movies. The climate of film criticism has changed over the years. You never had these critics around or as many critics around that time around.

    So you should only check rottentomatoes or other review sites for films at best 10 years old.

    For older films always refer to ‘most acclaimed’ films list. Like this one.
    http://www.theyshootpictures.com/gf1000_rankingorder.htm

    Its pointless comparing Clockwork Orange to Wall-E based on reviews.
    But Wall-E and TDK are on an equal footing.

    I pointed out the huge effort and expense that went into the making of Wall-E because I thought your post seemed to insinuate, “animated- so what”.

    And if you hold Pixar’s wanting to make money against them, they haven’t opened a charity, obviously they want to make money.

    And if Wall-E’s assured success is supposed to be against it, the finger of blame also points higher at TDK which was so supposed to drown the box-office that it was a foregone conclusion.

    Even besides the fact that almost all the kids were wondering that why the earth was shown the way it was, and what had happened to all the humans, Wall-E was a very ‘adult’ movie.

    Its the kids who are mistaken when they think, animation-thats for us. I am sure none of them appreciated how well structured and constructed Ratatouille’s screenplay was.

    The only thing worse than a bad film is an over-rated one.
    The Dark Knight has been so utterly and overly hyped on the internet and elsewhere, it was literally claimed to be like the visions of Christ or better than Citizen Kane or posses the ability to cure cancer patients.

    There is this MASSIVE halo around the movie currently and one day when it will burst(if ever), all of us will be sprayed with shit. I don’t mean to say, the movie is shit, its a very good film indeed, but the way it has been placed on a pedestal with people(mostly Americans, I don’t know if you are one) worshiping it, it is just obscene. It can turn off a lot of people.

    It has been like a collective orgasm for the people of America.

    And I’d be surprised if you weren’t bothered by the film’s popularity. I feel a bit worried that too many people like Wall-e but I know that most thing its cute and all and don’t really appreciate its artistry so I’m fine with it because I’m a very firm believer of the doctrine
    Popularity begets mediocrity.
    And you know, its true in 99 out of 100 cases.

  • 8 12-11-2008 at 11:20 am

    Scott Ward said...

    Red Wine,

    1) I agree that a best film list would be purely opinion, but I also explained how your list, while it is fine and I mostly agree with the selections, would only be based on the number of critics who liked the film. And I explained how a film like Wall-E is so easily likable. Just because a film is one of the most acclaimed ones of the year, that doesn’t mean that it is one of the best. Another example is this year’s Man on Wire. Out of over one hundred reviews that I’ve seen listed, I believe that I’ve only seen two negative reviews. TWO. It’s an easy film to like because of the way it documents a very interesting story. Yet it’s not winding up in many top 5 year end lists because there are some better films out there.

    2) I didn’t really understand the point of your second paragraph. Yes the field of criticism has changed over the decades and many of these critics indeed weren’t around then, but Orange still received negative reviews. If you’re implying that more critics would have liked it when it came out, I would have to say I highly doubt that. And it wasn’t pointless comparing Wall-E with Clockwork Orange in this situation. When you provided that list I was trying to show you how a film like Wall-E would have a much better chance of making the list than a generally better, yet more provocative Clockwork Orange.

    3) You were the one who seemed to think that because Wall-E had lots of time and money spent on it, then they were very ambitious and attempting true art. Well I’m saying that it certainly wasn’t the first and I personally don’t believe it was the second either. So compared with your theory of greatness on the film (which has yet to be supported by a detailed argument) then yes, in a way I am saying so what. Like I said, they were almost guaranteed to get their pay.

    3)I never held Pixar’s wanting to make money against them. I think anybody who finds a way to make large sums of very smart, no matter how they go about it. The only thing I held something against was you and the people like you who think this is artistry in its finest. Face it, animation films are hardly ever criticised, because it’s a fairly easy formula to follow. I distinctly remember Roeper saying earlier this year about Space Chimps something to the effect that he hates to bash a childrens movie, but that the film was pretty bad. And wouldn’t you know, the film made a none to shabby 60 million dollars at the box office, despite extremely negative reviews. It just proves my point that movie’s geared, read that, geared for children, are no where near held to the same standards as other films. It also proves my point that they will have moderate box office success in the least.

    4) No the kids didn’t understand the great screenplay of Ratatouille. I feel like a record player here – the movie WAS NOT ONLY FOR KIDS. IT WAS MARKETED TOWARDS THEM BECAUSE KIDS DON’T TAKE THEMSELVES TO THE MOVIES, THEIR PARENTS DO. AND THE MORE PEOPLE WHO GO SEE A MOVIE, THE MORE MONEY IT MAKES. And yes the ones that are better are the ones that mix something in their for the adults to enjoy as well. I’m tired of having to tell you this. If you think that Pixar film’s main purpose is to appeal to adults first and foremost, then you are completely wrong. AND YOU KEEP CHANGING MY WORDS AROUND. I NEVER SAID THAT EVERY ASPECT OF THE MOVIE WOULD APPEAL TO CHILDREN. Do you think that any one kid sat their and thought to himself, “I really don’t know what they are talking about here. I hope I don’t get confused and lose track of where the plot is headed.” Hell fucking no. This is very simple – all you have to do is put some nice and cute characters in their who have funny voices and have them fall or run into stuff or something action oriented to appease the kids. And for the adults you just have to get a couple of halfway clever dudes to put in a funny reference the adults will understand. Take your time to get some good animation by some people in that field, and there you have a Pixar film. Fun to watch with no intention of being critically analyzed or among the years best.

    The last part of your post was the worst.

    5)”The only thing worse than a bad film is and overrated one.” Really, because I think Vertigo is a little overrated. I guess that means that High School Musical is a better movie then. That statement is complete shit. I’m sorry to get aggressive, but when someone makes that kind of statement, it shows how deep they really think.

    6)”There is this MASSIVE halo around the movie currently and one day when it will burst(if ever), all of us will be sprayed with shit.

    I can’t even attack this because I have no idea what the hell it means. Honestly, I have no guess to what you are saying.

    I’m doing another post for the last one which no language can describe how dumb and utterly bad it is.

  • 9 12-11-2008 at 11:30 am

    Scott Ward said...

    “Popularity begets mediocrity.
    And you know, its true in 99 out of 100 cases.”

    Are you really serious. Did you start watching movies yesterday. Do you know anything about them?

    Just to take the seventies. I can’t remember if it was the highest grossing of ’72 or just one of the highest grossing, but a little obscure film that you may have heard of called The Godfather was released that year to extreme popularity and success. Yea that’s mediocrity at its best there. The Exorcist; huge box office success. Too bad it didn’t really age to well and people today don’t watch and appreciate it. Jaws- became the highest grossing film of all time in ’75. I don’t know how everyone can call that average piece of crap one of the best American films of all time.

    I really hate to be mean and insulting, and I’m usually not, but saying that proves you have got to be one of the dumbest and most uninformed people on the planet.

    P.S. Check the numbers if you don’t believe me.

  • 10 12-11-2008 at 12:10 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Also, another thing that just came to me.

    Wall-E has had huge box office success and as sites like this proves, it is a widely popular film.

    So by your own admission, the film is mediocre. You upended your entire argument without even realizing it.

    I also guess that Wall-E will one day burst and all of us will be sprayed with shit then.

    I guess the dumbest person on this thread may be me for wasting my time with you.

  • 11 12-11-2008 at 1:30 pm

    Matt said...

    WALL-E, easily. TDK was good, perhaps great, but not the best of its genre or even the year. WALL-E had everything, and the only reason it isn’t more apparent to the teen crowd buzzing about TDK is because they see it as a “kid’s movie”. It seems the poll is evening out since last I looked, and I’m glad.

    Notice that while WALL-E has actually already won one Best Picture award (LAFCA) TDK has yet to win any. There’s a reason for this. You will not see TDK winning a Best Picture from the Academy, even if WALL-E doesn’t either, but WALL-E has a real chance of winning if it gets nominated. It is the most beautiful, endearing, artistic, clever, funny, heart-warming, amazing film I’ve seen this year, and perhaps ever.

  • 12 12-11-2008 at 2:10 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Matt, I can guarantee you that Wall-E is not going to get nominated for Best Picture while The Dark Knight’s chances are very good, and as you say there is a reason for that.

    Look at Gurus of Gold, which Kris is a part of. It has some of the top critics from some of the top newspapers and websites. As of two or three days ago, Wall-E was ranked twelfth, with the highest ranking on anyone’s ballot being eighth. No one in the know thinks it is anywhere near a nomination because it shouldn’t be.

    On that same list The Dark Knight came in ranked number four, with its LOWEST ranking coming in at eight. As you said, there is a reason for this.

    Although I don’t see how, it’s fine that you liked Wall-E better, but supporting that by saying one city’s critics voted it number one means nothing to it being better than The Dark Knight, which remember they voted as being runner up.

    You said that Wall-E has everything; where is the haunting performance by the villain? Choose your words better. All Wall-E has is a cute little love story and some nice CGI effects to look at.

    Don’t get your hopes up on the morning of January 22. I like my chances as a snowball in hell better than I would being Wall-E on that morning.

  • 13 12-11-2008 at 2:13 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Sorry, TDK is ranked fifth. I regret the error, but that doesn’t hurt my point any.

  • 14 12-11-2008 at 4:21 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    “…the only reason it isn’t more apparent to the teen crowd buzzing about TDK is because they see it as a ‘kid’s movie’.”

    The problem, Matt, is that WALL-E *is* just a kid’s movie, and it’s Pixar’s own damn fault for not taking any real chances with the film. They squandered the creative first half in favor of a typical Pixar adventure story, and they threw away the chance of a truly profound story to please the toddlers with a “happily ever after” ending.

    If Pixar wants to make people take animated films more seriously and stop viewing them as “kid’s movies”, then they need to start treating their films as such, and not cop out and follow a formula. It’s a great formula, and I loved WALL-E, but I’m not under any illusions that this is animation’s magnum opus.

  • 15 12-11-2008 at 8:10 pm

    red_wine said...

    “Wall-E has had huge box office success and as sites like this proves, it is a widely popular film.

    So by your own admission, the film is mediocre. You upended your entire argument without even realizing it.”

    I already said I’m worried about the film’s popularity but I’ve realized that most people think its just cute and not really artistic so I’m fine. Because a huge chunk of the population cannot appreciate genius or it wouldn’t be genius. Genius is fleeting.

    ” ”The only thing worse than a bad film is and overrated one.” Really, because I think Vertigo is a little overrated. I guess that means that High School Musical is a better movie then. ”

    It is the practice in conversation to not take things literally when someone is speaking. How absurd is that you would translate my sentence with Vertigo(!!!!!!!) & High School Musical.

    I very obviously mean as many people realized, that even if a movie is good, if it is thrown about in public or over-exposed or over-discussed or in general thought to be better than it truly is, it undermines that movies credibility. Expectations apart, a feeling of exasperation sets in even if you like the movie in the 1st place.
    You actually mentioned Vertigo(let me cross myself) and High School Musical in the same sentence!

    Clockwork Orange is an acknowledged masterpiece. Its reviews don’t matter. It has earned its place in history. Comparing it to wall-E is pointless as it is just a film which came out this year and has yet to earn its salt in film history.

    For the 3 classic films you listed, I could list a million great films which have been sidelined by the normal movie going public in favor of more ‘entertaining’ films

    Though box-office is a good estimate of a movie’s popularity what I actually meant is if a film is still seen by a lot of people and overall cherished.

    L’Avventura or Magnificent Ambersons certainly aren’t seen by many people, they are not popular by a mile.

    But Hancock, I Am Legend, National Treasure all are extremely popular with movie goers.

    There is a reason that in recent years, literally commercial failures have been nominated for and won awards because yes it is very very true

    Popularity begets Mediocrity.
    In most art forms, even in books.
    The books that top best-seller lists like dan brown and other authors are usually of the lowest quality.

    Because face it, most of the population does not have an artistic bend, most people cannot appreciate genius otherwise it wouldn’t be genius. Again, genius is fleeting.

  • 16 12-11-2008 at 8:47 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Red wine, there are times when you need to specify sarcasm on a message board because tone can not be detected. I’m really glad you didn’t mean that statement literally.

    But two main points. I’m pretty sure that you hinted that Wall-E was ingenious work, and from your previous posts, you have said that it was highly ambitious.

    If you can logically back that up these two statements then I applaud you. When that happens we can talk more.

    Also, if one person on this world thinks that Wall-E and A Clockwork Orange should never be compared, it is me. I only brought that up because you posted that list of most acclaimed films, and I explained to you how that has utterly nothing to do with which films are better.

    You supported your point well on popularity begetting mediocrity, yet that’s not true as much as you think. Examples from just the past two years: Departed (132 million dollars domestic) & No Country For Old Men (74 million domestically) (I’m talking about America).

    I would also have to use the disclaimer that the majority of the population didn’t like these two for all of the right reasons, yet they didn’t do too shabby at the box office nonetheless.

    And Robert added a good point too that I didn’t cover, yet it does tie in with my belief that Pixar doesn’t strive to make great, artistic films.

    So when you think of why Wall-E is so damn ambitious and so damn good, please share with us and then we talk. Until later…

  • 17 12-11-2008 at 10:40 pm

    red_wine said...

    Well, Wall-E without a doubt is exceedingly lavishly and elaborately animated. This time Pixar goes for scope and they achieve stunning results, the entire devastated earth, the landscape where Wall-E resides, and the jewel in Pixar’s crown I think is Axiom the spaceship and its interiors, it was nauseating to see the atrium of the spaceship with thousands and thousands of humans and robots flitting about here and there in that vast arena.

    Here lies the genius, Pixar isn’t blinded just by the scope of their creation, it is incredibly detailed, like even though you see the mountains of garbage neatly piled up, the detail is such that each an every scratch on metal surfaces, the rust on metals is accurately and perfectly rendered.

    We come to the story itself, which is truly poignant, even though the story is about a small inconsequential robot, we have the larger subtext of entire humanity departing from earth even though thats just in the background.

    The characters were especially endearing. Its rarely that I come to love characters the way I did in this film. I was truly horrified that something bad might happen to Wall-E when he goes to Axiom.

    And the love story is a classic. One of the best moments is when Eve is watching the recording of all that happened after she shut down. Just look at her expression(or body language since she doesn’t have a face). Its in that moment that she realizes that Wall-E truly loves her. She was cool towards him before that.

    Another great moment is when Wall-E is near broken in the garbage dump, we see Eve’s horrified, desperate and urgent search for parts to match Wall-E’s. We know in that moment that Eve would go to any extent for Wall-E. It also makes us realize that their love affair is so rife with doom, there are little machines afterall, and can be broken from the smallest of accidents.

    When Wall-E points to the plant and says directive, Eve throws away the plant and raises her hand to hold his and says “No. This is my directive”. At this moment, I must confess, I had a lump in my throat.

    She only ever agrees to go ahead with the plant thing coz she knows that if they return to earth, she can fix Wall-E.

    The ending I admit is very happy but that I attribute to the fact that Pixar knew a vast demographic who would watch this film would be young kids, so they couldn’t alienate them with such a horrible tragedy. Wall-E takes time to properly boot up, just like any other computer but if he hadn’t recognized Eve, the movie would been unbearably depressing, the 2nd time even more so coz we would know in the garbage dump scene that this is the end of their affair.

    Also the movie has true artistic ambitions and it is apparent by just looking at it. Wall-E’ ride through space is wondrous and Wall-E & Eve’s dance in the cosmos is one of the most beautiful and unforgettable moments in the movies this year. So many of the scenes betray an eye for beauty even in the smallest and most inconsequential areas.

  • 18 12-11-2008 at 11:41 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    “Well, Wall-E without a doubt is exceedingly lavishly and elaborately animated.”

    On that we agree. Pixar is without question the most talented animation studio in the world, and WALL-E is another testament to that. Before I go on, I just want to preface by saying that I think very highly of WALL-E overall and would have no problem seeing it nominated for Best Animated Feature (which it will almost certainly win) or even Best Original Screenplay.

    “The characters were especially endearing.”

    I also agree that the characters are endearing, but were they any more endearing than the characters of Pixar’s other films? Was it somehow more difficult to make an adorable robot as likable as, say, a talking rat or a big blue monster? I don’t see the major achievement here.

    “The ending I admit is very happy but that I attribute to the fact that Pixar knew a vast demographic who would watch this film would be young kids…”

    My point exactly! That’s why Pixar has yet to make a film truly worthy of “Best Picture” or “all-time classic” (at least outside of animated children’s films). When WALL-E was rebuilt and it looked as if he had forgotten everything, Andrew Stanton had a choice. He could either go for the sadder but more moving ending, or he could opt to cave to the demographics of his viewers and choose a cop-out conclusion to avoid ‘rocking the boat’. He chose the latter, and WALL-E suffers as a result.

    “…so they couldn’t alienate them with such a horrible tragedy.”

    Why the hell not? Look at Bambi. You certainly wouldn’t argue a fawn’s mother getting murdered is a horrible tragedy, would you? Well, WALL-E didn’t even have to go *there*. Would it be that traumatic to have WALL-E lose his memories but maybe not his personality, and then end with EVE resolving to reteach WALL-E all of the things he previously taught her? Sure, that would be a bittersweet ending, but it would be original and hopeful enough to be reassuring to younger audiences. Why did Stanton feel the need to wrap EVERYTHING up in a nice little bow? Monsters, Inc. fell into the same trap when Pete Docter decided to ruin a beautiful and moving goodbye scene with the door being repaired in the end.

    Now, in the case of The Dark Knight, that film measures up to the same strengths of WALL-E that you mentioned and sometimes even exceeds them. Would anyone argue that TDK was not a remarkable technical achievement? Just about everything in the production broke new ground in some way, from the costumes (specifically Batman’s new suit, which is a marvel of design), the makeup (the way the Joker’s scars were invented to just be pasted on and allow the least possible facial restraint was unprecedented), to (especially) the cinematography. Would anyone argue that everyone in the cast (save for *maybe* Christian Bale’s “Batman voice”) gave excellent performances? I know everyone singles out Heath Ledger, but Eckhart, Oldman, Caine, and Freeman were beyond commendable as well. You say that WALL-E has endearing characters? When I saw TDK for the first time in the theater, I heard gasps when Jim Gordon looked like he was shot. When he returned (“We got you know, you son of a bitch”), the *entire audience* broke out in cheers and applause (which never happened when I watched WALL-E in the theater). Gee, you think they cared about that character? And who wasn’t heartbroken when Harvey Dent snapped in the hospital, or when the shattered Batman-Gordon-Dent alliance met for the last time during the film’s climax? And I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue that the ending to TDK wasn’t bold and poignant.

    The Dark Knight had a lot of flaws, I’m totally willing to admit that. But look at what Christopher Nolan did. He took a popular superhero franchise and turned it into a two-and-a-half hour long, violent, tragic crime film that made allusions to terrorism, domestic spying, and torture. I’m still shocked that Warner Bros. allowed him to do what he did with TDK. It paid off; the result was one of the best-reviewed films of the year and one of the highest-grossing films of all time! I just fail to see how such a remarkable accomplishment shouldn’t be awarded with a Best Picture Academy Award nomination.

  • 19 12-11-2008 at 11:44 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Sorry for my short novel, and my typo (it’s driving me INSANE!).

  • 20 12-11-2008 at 11:58 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Well, Wall-E without a doubt is exceedingly lavishly and elaborately animated. This time “Pixar goes for scope and they achieve stunning results, the entire devastated earth, the landscape where Wall-E resides, and the jewel in Pixar’s crown I think is Axiom the spaceship and its interiors, it was nauseating to see the atrium of the spaceship with thousands and thousands of humans and robots flitting about here and there in that vast arena.”

    With time, can be done by a couple of computer design. I’ll agree that imagery was enthralling to look at, but this certainly is by no means the look of a work of genius.

    “Here lies the genius, Pixar isn’t blinded just by the scope of their creation, it is incredibly detailed, like even though you see the mountains of garbage neatly piled up, the detail is such that each an every scratch on metal surfaces, the rust on metals is accurately and perfectly rendered.”

    So just because these designers spent a little extra time on their work, their creation is genius. That is completely crazy. Are trying to imply that visible metal scratches is where Wall-E’s genius is. Because that is what you said. Wow.

    “We come to the story itself, which is truly poignant, even though the story is about a small inconsequential robot, we have the larger subtext of entire humanity departing from earth even though thats just in the background.”

    Humanity leaving? Humanity had already left bro. Otherwise Wall-E wouldn’t be there and we wouldn’t have had a movie.

    “I was truly horrified that something bad might happen to Wall-E when he goes to Axiom.”

    Serious question: Are you seven?
    Did you honestly think Wall-E was going to get killed at Axiom. No, because this is predictable Pixar; sure the characters must face some small trials and tribulations to keep Billy’s interest, but at the end of the day a sad ending would be as you admit, unacceptable because of the audience the films is trying to please. And going back to your previous comments, how in the hell can you say that Wall-E was in the least ambitious when you yourself point out the fact that it is vitally necessary for them to appeal to a certain demographic. That my friend is the antithesis is risk and ambition. And what was so endearing about the characters that makes this film the masterpiece it supposedly is?

    “And the love story is a classic. One of the best moments is when Eve is watching the recording of all that happened after she shut down. Just look at her expression(or body language since she doesn’t have a face). Its in that moment that she realizes that Wall-E truly loves her. She was cool towards him before that.”

    I agree with you on this. That was a pretty touching moment. See, I’m not out to completely bash you or this movie.

    “Another great moment is when Wall-E is near broken in the garbage dump, we see Eve’s horrified, desperate and urgent search for parts to match Wall-E’s. We know in that moment that Eve would go to any extent for Wall-E. It also makes us realize that their love affair is so rife with doom, there are little machines afterall, and can be broken from the smallest of accidents.”

    Another good scene, and a good analysis of the last part.

    “Also the movie has true artistic ambitions and it is apparent by just looking at it. Wall-E’ ride through space is wondrous and Wall-E & Eve’s dance in the cosmos is one of the most beautiful and unforgettable moments in the movies this year. So many of the scenes betray an eye for beauty even in the smallest and most inconsequential areas.”

    How is this in any way, shape, or form ambitious. I agree that these scenes were aesthetically pleasing, but that is not ambition. If I went out to the shore and took a picture of some seagulls flying along the ocean at sunset, this would be stunningly beautiful. But doing this takes no great ambition because with patience and a small amount of creativity anyone can do the same thing. Doing something many others can do if they took the time is not ambition. You need to refine your definition of the word.

    So overall, I would say a very weak argument. You provide two good examples but they in no way measure up to making it an ambitious masterpiece.

    I gave you a good chance, and as I surmised, you were not able to come up with sound reasoning supporting your claim that this movie is a classic masterpiece. I understand that you are entitled to your opinion of liking the film, but when you make a bold statement like that, you have to be prepared to back yourself up extensively, which you could not.

    So the beat goes on. I have still yet to hear a reasonable query as to what makes this film so damn good.

  • 21 12-11-2008 at 11:59 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Sorry about the grammatical errors in the first two paragraphs. Don’t know what happened there.

  • 22 12-12-2008 at 12:03 am

    Scott Ward said...

    Robert, it appears that you and I were writing basically the exact same thing simultaneously.

    High five man for being able to recognize true greatness.

  • 23 12-12-2008 at 1:35 am

    red_wine said...

    It was my portrait of the film, I gave it only coz you asked for it. Its not my business to defend the film. Its your choice what you prefer.

    But Christ, Scott Ward, we seem to be having a grammatical problem here. What I most obviously meant with humanity departing from earth was in “in the wake of humanity departing from earth”.

    When I say the race has been altered with Slumdog winning NBR I don’t mean its winning like right now, I obviously mean that it has already won.

    Robert Hammer, Bambi came out in 42 and was I think the 5th or 6th animated film, so animation was not yet bundled into the kids ghetto yet, infact Snow White had come out just 5 years ago.

    Pixar did go with the money ending but it obviously wanted to make money. Australia this year and many other live-action films have also gone for happier endings, it happens all the time.
    Red River and Monsieur Verdoux are to great films I can think off with pedestrian endings but both are considered great regardless because of what precedes it. That said, Wall-E’s ending is not some kind of disaster, no more so than TDK’s last 1/2 hour is.

    Robert Hammer, also no-one has claimed that they cared for the characters of TDK very intimately and emotionally, atleast to me. Even with Gary Oldman dying and then coming back again, it was just one of the ploys of an action movie and did not move me or anyone I know.

    The cinematography was great but I fail to see how the Costume Design and Make-Up were ground-breaking. You are the 1st person who has even mentioned the Costume design of TDK to me. A little bit of face-paint isn’t ground-breaking, if you are looking for groundbreaking make-up, check out Ben Button.
    The only costume which I can think of as ground-breaking is the stone man’s suit from Fantastic Four.

    And Scott Ward, cinema is a visual medium first and fore-most. It is the interplay of images on screen to narrate and a story or to get across ideas to the the audience. If we disregard visual bravura, Kubrick’s towering 2001 crumbles right there. Ofcourse the visual quality of a film is an achievement, one of the reasons Jesse James is celebrated because of the visual quality of the film.

    Also I would like to point out, Wall-E truly transcended its medium in the sense that it uses medium to the fullest to tell a story. A live-action version of the movie would be economically not feasible. Even without that, there is something universal(no pun intended) and over-reaching about the entire narrative.

    While, I find TDK to be very contained and a genre film. One of the major grips I have with the film is how the characters make entrances and exits, its just so hokey. Its not like they have super-powers and can just appear, they are normal humans and need transport and need to walk to get to places. Yet, Joker just seems to appear in all these places even though he’s one of the most wanted criminals in the city. He can go to a party or a hospital or anywhere without the slightest opposition.

    Even Batman, he just seems to appear and disappear and in one terrace scene, they are having a conversation, and a guy says something and we cut to where Batman is standing, and bang, he’s gone. Its very disconcerting, nobody even noticed he went away from the terrace of a building standing right there next to them? Gary Oldman actually says, he does that sometimes!

    In another I think they are in the basement or something and Batman just appears and a guy looks really surprised and all. Batman obviously went into the building wearing the suit and walked past the guards, he cant just appear.

    All this is very super-hero and restricts the film from truly transcending its origins.

    Another major grip is the entire boat episode which was extremely artificial to begin with. It was so weird that a no. of people wanting to flee the city would take a boat apart from all the transport routes available to them, and that too just 1 boat and there were still many people in the city. And then we comfortably have another boat with prisoners and the entire bomb ploy which is raised up for all its worth and in the end our faith is restored in the goodness of people. It seemed like an unconvincing melodramatic morality play.

    Even the climax when the entire city seems to be going chaotic, the director would have us feel the the world is falling apart and the sky is falling but its just that 1 city. The city itself feels isolated from the rest of the world, coz you would imagine such a crisis to take global proportions. it all feels very contained in the universe of batman itself. It didn’t transcend its medium for me that way. It was just adhering to the super-hero world.

    But yes it was a dramatically powerful movie but a wee-bit calculated for my taste. But I still thinks its a very good movie.

  • 24 12-12-2008 at 6:02 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    “Bambi came out in 42 and was I think the 5th or 6th animated film, so animation was not yet bundled into the kids ghetto yet, infact Snow White had come out just 5 years ago.”

    I don’t see how that makes a difference. Are you saying that filmmakers shouldn’t take risks with a genre after it gets pigeonholed? Monster movies had been around for sixty years when Jaws came out; that didn’t stop it from being one of the greatest and most influential films of all time. Wuxia had been around since the 1920’s, but didn’t hit its stride in the west until Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000. I see the same thing with The Dark Knight. When has a superhero comic book movie *ever* injected itself into the American conciousness as strongly as TDK?

    “Pixar did go with the money ending but it obviously wanted to make money.”

    I might buy that excuse during the days of Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, but not anymore. Pixar today is one of the most successful studios in the world, and they have never made a film that has not made money. The onus is even more on them to constantly innovate since they are the top dog of animated films right now. There simply isn’t any reason why Pixar should not push the envelope with every film they make at this stage.

    “Australia [and others]…have also gone for happier endings…”

    Refresh my memory; is Australia still touted as a serious Oscar contender?

    “…Wall-E’s ending is not some kind of disaster, no more so than TDK’s last 1/2 hour is.”

    Setting aside the implict statement that TDK’s ending was some sort of disaster, you’re absolutely right about the ending to WALL-E. It didn’t *ruin* the film, but it showed that Pixar isn’t yet willing to take a chance with its story. What do I mean by “taking a chance”? Well, killing off the female lead and having the film’s hero die a bitter, broken man would be an example. It doesn’t even have to be a sad or depressing chance. I hated The Passion of the Christ with a…um…passion, but I have to give kudos to Mel “Fuck the Jews” Gibson for filming it entirely in Aramaic. New Line and Peter Jackson were also pretty ballsy for pouring a fortune of cash and resources to film an entire fantasy trilogy at once. Can you imagine what would have happened to them if The Fellowship of the Ring bombed? Terry Gilliam fought tooth and nail to have his version of Brazil released instead of the more consumer-friendly studio version. No Country for Old Men had one of the most divisive endings in film history. Have you noticed a pattern here? All of the examples I’ve mentioned became successes, both artistically and financially. Admittedly, so was WALL-E, but I wonder how much more successful it would have been had it not gone for, as you say, “the money ending”.

    “…I fail to see how the Costume Design and Make-Up were ground-breaking.”

    Let me explain. Batman’s costume is an incredibly snazzy and sophisticated piece of design. In fact, it’s one of the most complex costumes I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if this will display, but this is a brief overview of what I’m talking about: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20042739,00.html

    As for the Joker’s scars (it wasn’t really his “actual” makeup that I was referring to), they were not made up of convential prosthetics. It instead comprises of three pieces of stamped silicone. This was a completely new technology, and allowed the makeup artists to apply it in less than an hour, which also resulted in Ledger’s impression that he was barely wearing any make-up at all.

    “…visual quality of a film is an achievement…”

    I agree. I think both WALL-E and The Dark Knight were excellent visual achievements, although they were going for totally different aesthetics.

    “One of the major grips I have with the film…”

    Hey, I agree that the film is flawed. Spectacularly flawed, even. But when I look at the two films and ask myself which was more engaging, more relevant, and more cutting-edge, it’s a no-brainer for me.