Flawed physics in WALL-E

** CONTAINS SPOILERS **

** CONTAINS SPOILERS **

** CONTAINS SPOILERS **

First let me say the first act of the movie was amazing. I could have watched an entire movie about WALL-E’s daily life, without any other characters. This is not to say I didn’t like the rest of the movie, but once they were on the ship and the humans started getting involved, it became too cartoony, and somewhat irritating with the constant “WALL-EE! EEVA! WALL-EE! EEVA!” dialogue, since that’s all they say (I liked it better when they said nothing). I wish the movie could have been him and EVE on Earth the whole time.

At the beginning of the movie, we see video of the former humans, and it’s live action (they did this because of the “Hello Dolly” footage they wanted to put in the film). The live action works fine…until we actually see current humans, and they are fat CG characters. I don’t really have a solution for this problem, except to completely remove the CG humans from the story, which would have made me happy.

Physics

I know this isn’t a realistic movie, but it’s still annoying to see laws of physics being broken. When there is some new technology (like EVA) doing things we’ve never seen before (flying around somehow), we accept it because we assume it’s something unknown to us. But when we see things that are known to us, even if it’s a fantasy movie, it’s jarring.

One of the most common errors in sci-fi movies is having sound in space. In WALL-E, space ships make a “wooshing” sound while flying by the camera. During part of the movie, WALL-E is outside of the ship with EVE, and they talk to each other, which would be impossible. Another error is when he flies around by using a fire extinguisher to propel him. Remember, no air in space means no resistance, and nothing to slow him down–yet he holds down the button to retain his speed, and seems to slow down when he lets go. We see the foam form a floating stream behind him–but again, no resistance means it would fly out at a constant speed, quickly separating and disappearing from view. The interesting thing is that in the commentary the director talks about how they did try to get some things right, like how the foam crystalizes when it’s expelled. That’s great, but it’s weird that they’d ignore such huge errors, especially the most annoying one of all:

During the climax of the movie, the ship tilts to the side, causing everyone to start sliding to the edge. The problem is that the ship obviously has artificial gravity, otherwise they’d all be floating the whole time. There is no “up” or “down” in space, and during the rest of the movie the artificial gravity clearly pulls everyone towards the floor–regardless of the tilt of the ship. So even if the ship flipped 180 degrees, the people inside wouldn’t notice a difference, yet here they are sliding to the side (and don’t tell me it’s centrifugal force or something, because it’s too slow, and they slide the wrong way if that’s the case).

Then of course there are technological errors. Why does WALL-E get tired, and why is he groggy when he wakes up? At the end of the movie, EVE fixes him, but he doesn’t remember her–at first. It makes no sense. Either the data is there or it isn’t, you can’t jog a computer’s memory (yeah yeah, it’s a movie, it’s symbolic).

But it’s still a great movie, and watching emotionless robots wouldn’t have been any fun at all. If WALL-E was an advanced AI character, it would have been fine, but he’s a simple robot with old circuit boards, not an artificial brain. I can still enjoy it for what it is, and now I really hope they make a prequel!

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