Wall-E

Inciting Event: Immediately after Wall-E discovers the first plant he’s ever seen on the trash-ridden Earth he’s tasked with cleaning up, a spaceship lands and the beautiful robot Eve emerges. Up this moment, nearly twelve minutes into the film, the entirety of the story has been set-up that introduces Wall-E and his world. Now, he first brushes with the main conflict: Eve and her “directive” to return the plant to the colony ship Axiom. Usually, at this point, the protagonist will in some way reject the Call to Adventure. Here, Wall-E falls instantly in love with Eve and follows her around wherever she goes—despite her shooting at him. So this is more of an instance of the conflict rejecting him.

First Plot Point: After Wall-E rescues Eve from the sandstorm and brings her inside his home, where he shows off his collections, she scans the plant, recognizes it as her directive, and immediately powers down, leaving Wall-E to react, futilely, in an effort to get her to wake back up.

First Pinch Point: The ship returns for Eve, and Wall-E stows away, flying through space to the Axiom. Wall-E is a wonderful movie and a work of art, but it does have several major issues—and we find the primary one right here. This is clearly a departure from the Normal World and an entrance into the adventure world, but because it takes place so late—a full eighth of the story after the First Plot Point—it ends up basically skewering the film into two decidedly separate parts. It feels like two different movies precisely because this second half isn’t given enough set-up in the First Act, while the Normal World is given too much, which encourages viewers to settle into that world and its conflict instead of preparing for what the story is truly about.

Midpoint: The captain of the Axiom learns the plant will return the Axiom to Earth (after 700 years in space), since the plant’s existence signals that Earth is once again a livable environment. However, when Eve opens her compartment to give the captain the plant, she discovers it has disappeared. This is an obvious Moment of Truth (although not really for Wall-E, who becomes largely an incidental observer of the conflict for the rest of the story) that reveals the true heart of the story’s conflict.

Second Pinch Point: Eve and Wall-E witness a gofer droid carrying the missing plant into an escape pod. Wall-E rescues it, and Eve rescues Wall-E. This is a nice pinch point that emphasizes both the antagonistic force and the stakes, while allowing the escape pod’s self-destruct mechanism to turn the overall scene into a “big” moment.

Third Plot Point: After the false victory in which Eve returns the plant to the captain, Auto the autopilot reveals his true nature as the antagonist. He was given an override directive forbidding him to return the ship to Earth. When Wall-E tries to keep the plant from him, Auto fries Wall-E’s computer chip and dumps Wall-E, Eve, and the plant into the trash compactor. This is a clear low point.

Climax: When Eve realizes the only way to save Wall-E from dying is to return to Earth for his spare parts, she goes on a mission to return the plant to the captain once more. Here, we really see Wall-E sidelined into a passive role—which is never ideal for the protagonist.

Climactic Moment: After returning to Earth and apparently wiping Wall-E’s personality with a new computer chip, Eve is overjoyed when Wall-E comes back to life.

Resolution: In a very brief Resolution, the captain begins teaching the colonists how to grow “vegetable plants and pizza plants.”

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