Saturday, June 28, 2008

Robot Day: Tracing the Lineage of Wall-E's Robot Pals

Geekanerd loves Wall-E! Even me, the resident Pixar cynic. The first third of the movie is a masterpiece, a MASTER. PIECE. Between that and the credit sequence, let's give them the Oscar, why not. I spent most of yesterday evening geeking out about my favorite moments, watching clips on YouTube, pouring over the amazing BuyNLarge viral site, and crying over the mere memory of several scenes.

As a product design nerd, I love that they didn't over-anthropomorphize the "modern" robots, ie all the robots except Wall-E himself. The art designers gave them tons of personality while still making them realistically look they were built for only one service. They're not androids, but true blue mass manufactured robots.

While the Johnny 5/Short Circuit comparisons have already well chewed over, here's our attempt to trace the robo-influences of some of Wall-E's friends...

Until Auto started talking, I thought it actually might be GLaDOS. Still alive indeed, seven hundred years in the future! Red eye against white circle with a black line down the's all there, people. But as Sarah pointed out, GLaDOS' look is in turn a rif on HAL 9000, and Auto's eye is clearly a DIRECT reference to his iconic red light. Portal only came out a year ago, so there's probably no way Auto could have been influenced by about that short before the movie, though, with the magic hat? That was Portal. It just was.

More after the jump....

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the PR-T cosmetic bot was designed with a nod towards the IT-O Interrogator droid from Star Wars. Both are floating orbs with multiple arms, and given that the PR-T droid we meet in the movie is malfunctioning, their functions may not be all that different either.

Eve is harder to pin down, but the resemblance to Apple products in general is pretty clear. I think more than anything she/it reminded me of the Mac Mouse, in it's smooth, seamless white ovaltude. But the face and gun reminded me of something as well; the Robosapein toy robot from Wowee, which me and Albo saw at Digital Life last year.

Anyone else see anything in Wall-E that reminded them of another famous robot?


Albo said...

This article at Slashfilm

reports that Eve was actually designed by Johnny Ive, the guy that designed the iPod. Any similarity between his name and the aforementioned Johnny Five is entirely incidental.

Hunter said...

What in the mud. How to convince a world of nerds that the portable portal concept already had crowsfeet when that silly little CD-ROM came out... How to DO IT... Rrrrmmmm... Come on, Hunter, suck it up and find some relevant YouTubes. Perhaps a shareware game from 1997 built on the Lode Runner engine. What is TAKING you so long?

Anonymous said...

Eve's gun completely reminds me of the portal gun from Portal, not in shape but in style and the way it "comes out", and when I saw that glados replica a bit later, I thought "these guys must have been Portal fans".

Holly said...

I prefer not to analyse guns and other similar things - I just sit down, switch on my computer and enjoy one of the best animated movies in the last year ( download Wall-E )