Directed by Andrew Stanton
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 98 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
MSRP: $ 40.99
Release Date: November 18, 2008
Review Date: November 11, 2008
Will the well of originality and creativity of the Pixar technicians never run dry? If WALL-E is any indication, the end isn’t anywhere near in sight. This charming, funny, endearing, and exciting science fiction yarn, set more than seven hundred years into the future, is one of the year’s best films and another striking example of a truly inspired idea carried through with miraculous dexterity by a host of extraordinarily talented artists. To miss this movie is to miss one of the best animated films of the decade.
With the Earth overburdened by garbage, the population has been shepherded off the planet while hordes of automated trash compactors (trademarked WALL-E for Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth Class) clean up the mess. What was to take a mere five years has turned into a centuries’ long struggle to contain the waste so that by the start of our film, one remaining WALL-E robot (voiced by Ben Burtt) remains active, dutifully going about his business daily with a cockroach and a videotape loop of two songs from Hello, Dolly! to keep him company. The conglomerate in charge of the clean up of the planet and the comfort of Earth’s population while in space is Buy n Large which sends annual probes back to Earth to see if it’s yet ready for its inhabitants to return. One such probe, the EVE (voiced by Elissa Knight), detects a green growing sprout, all the evidence that’s needed to prove the Earth can now support human life, and WALL-E, smitten on first sight by EVE, stows away on the space ship heading back to the Axiom spaceship which has a large part of the Earth’s populace (now a generation of couch potatoes after centuries of lazing around being waited on by robots of every description). But the Buy n Large corporation isn’t all that happy to lose its reason for existence, and a HAL-type computer (named Auto) on board the Axiom begins taking matters into its own hands to prevent the Axiom’s captain (Jeff Garlin) from returning people to Earth.
The film’s first half hour alone is remarkable in its ingenuity and execution. With no real spoken dialog and just the magic of CGI animation directing these robots (and cockroach), the Earth of the future piled miles high with compacted trash while this robot goes about his business makes for a one-of-a-kind visual experience. WALL-E’s enraptured fascination with “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from Hello, Dolly! (he even finds a garbage pail lid he can use as a bowler), his steely determination to continue doing his job alone even down to self-maintenance, and his infatuation with EVE despite her initial indifference and business-like attitude, all make for a main character with whom the audience can easily identify. Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon’s screenplay (based on a story by Stanton and Pete Docter) then take the science fiction tale into the galaxy for the next hour in a succession of funny and exciting adventures which the two robots undergo, all in the service of mankind and against the nemesis of the Big Brother entity Buy n Large.
Is the story an allegory, warning our generation of its wasteful indulgences and cautioning quietly about allowing a large organization to do our thinking for us while we luxuriate in our own automated comforts? Maybe. Pixar animated features have always had more on their minds than sheer entertainment. WALL-E is what every great movie should be: an entertaining, audience pleasing film with something worthy of pondering after the picture is over. And for fans of science fiction movies, the film is an obviously loving tribute to many of the science fiction landmarks of years past.
The film’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio is delivered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Taken directly from digital files, the picture is immaculate with striking sharpness, acres of detail, and color quality second to none. The sense of dimensionality is superb. The clouds of dust on the planet in the early scenes are no problem for the Blu-ray, and the outer space scenes are breathtaking with their deep blacks and perfect contrast. No banding or other digital artifacts are present making for a reference quality transfer. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is most impressive with its deep bass featuring LFE which will shake your viewing environment on a regular basis. Elsewhere, the surrounds are alive with all manner of discreet effects which give the soundstage a width and breadth which are unique to Pixar’s previous output.
Disc one offers two commentary tracks. The Cine-Explore track features director Andrew Stanton discussing his 12 year involvement with the picture while picture-in-picture pop-ups show concept art, photos of contributing Pixar personnel, and line animated renderings of specific sequences in the movie.
The Geek Track features four Pixar executives playing Mystery Science Theater 3000 shadow commentators on their own movie offering behind-the-scenes gossip, trivia about the making of the movie, and other tidbits pertaining to their love of science fiction.
All of the bonus features are presented in 1080p.
“Presto” is the simply hilarious 5 ¼-minute short which accompanied WALL-E in theaters as a magician has a Looney Tunes-like encounter with his rabbit while on stage performing his act.
“BURN-E,” a new animated featurette based on scenes from WALL-E, finds the repair robot BURN-E trying to replace a light rod on the rim of the Axiom while various events from WALL-E are occurring. This delightful short runs 7 ½ minutes. The viewer also has the option of watching BURN-E with PiP animated storyboards to compare the original conceptions to the finished product.
The Blu-ray is BD-Live ready which opens up the Movie Chat, Movie Mail, Movie Challenge, and Movie Rewards sections of the BD-Live Network.
Also on disc one are 1080p previews of Pinocchio, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and Tinker Bell, among others.
Disc two carries the majority of the bonus features.
A section called “Robots” contains a number of bonus featurettes and special features. Included among these are the “WALL-E Treasures and Trinkets,” a very amusing 5-minute short featuring some of the star robots from the film attempting to handle a host of earthly objects; 28 robot descriptions of the various robots of Earth and Axiom; and a 3-minute storybook called “Lots of Bots” narrated by Kathy Najimy and which contains several child-slanted activities.
Exclusive to Blu-ray is “The Axiom Arcade,” a group of four video games all revolving around the movie characters of WALL-E, EVE, M-O, and BURN-E.
There are seven behind the scenes featurettes on the making of every aspect of the film including establishing the film’s visual design, the evolution of the various robots especially changes in Auto’s design, the composing and recording of Thomas Newman’s orchestral score, a wonderful section on the sound design for the movie and a tour of the sound library at Disney Studios, and the art in building the various robots. Together the seven featurettes run 69 ¾ minutes.
“Buy n Large Shorts” is a series of five brief films running a total of 9 minutes which give interesting background information on the Buy n Large conglomerate.
There are four deleted scenes each introduced by director Andrew Stanton which can be viewed univocally or in one 23-minute grouping.
Ten of the film’s intricate sets are available for 3-D Set Fly-Through experiences. The viewer may select all or pick individual sets at random. This feature is exclusive to the Blu-ray release.
The Pixar Story is a 90-minute documentary on the history of the company directed by Leslie Iwerks.
Four picture galleries are available for step-through viewing. They are organized by character designs, layout and backgrounds, visual development, and publicity.
Six national and international trailers may be selected for viewing. Together they run 13 ½ minutes but can be viewed separately.
Disc three in the set is the DisneyFile Digital Copy of the film available for downloading to iTunes or Windows formatted media.
Another winner from the animation studio that has produced the most memorable animated features for more than a decade, WALL-E is both a funny and moving experience, a delightfully imaginative look at the future with lessons which can be appreciated today. This is one of the greats, and the Blu-ray release is definitely the way to experience it at home.