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HTF DVD Review: WALL*E



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#1 of 18 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted November 15 2008 - 11:02 AM

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WALL*E
3-Disc Special Edition




US Release Date: November 18, 2008

The Film - htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_half.gif out of htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gif<font face="Arial
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“Too much garbage in your place? There is plenty of space out in space! BnL StarLiners leaving each day. We'll clean up the mess while you're away.”

Pixar is unparalleled in modern animation. A nearly pure resume of incredible hits, this animation house has become the life blood of Disney’s theatrical non-live action arm and has defined excellence in features. It is the consummate and triumphant leader in films that appeal to childlike imaginations, craft layered comedy to satiate the adults in the audience and produce wonder and awe at almost every turn. Truly, then, Pixar and Walt Disney’s WALL*E is one of the most wonderful films of the year.

In a dystopian future, WALL*E is the last robot on an earth that has long since been abandoned by humanity (we trashed the planet and escaped in spaceships). He has been performing his programmed task for hundreds of years, compacting trash and stacking them into enormous towers that through the years have become skyscraper sized monuments of waste. After all this time completely alone, he has begun to develop sentient-like quirks. Despite the endlessness of his routine, he has become a curious collector of trinkets and spare parts and, in a wonderful turn, become a fan of the timeless musical Hello Dolly. When a ship arrives, he is startled, scared and with childlike traits, curious. When another robot (Eve) emerges and begins to search for signs of life on the seemingly desolate planet – he is infatuated. Soon, they strike up a friendship. But when Eve discovers signs of life (her mission on Earth) and shuts down, WALL*E is distraught. Soon, the ship that dropped Eve off comes back for her and WALL*E follows, beginning a superb interstellar adventure.

From the mind and heart of Finding Nemo creator, Andrew Stanton, WALL*E is a mesmerizing delight. For almost the entire first half of the film, it is like a silent movie, relying purely on visual cues to tell us who this endearing WALL*E is. With the skills of Buster Keaton and the great Harold Lloyd, WALL*E completely wraps you up in the life of this trash compacting robot and his very human fallibilities, and as it unfolds, transcends animation to becomes art; a luminous wealth of brilliance in environments, direction and atmosphere, worthy of sincere amazement and deep appreciation.

The animation is simply astonishing. The vast and baron earth is depicted with such bleak, apocalyptic tones that it becomes beautiful. The characters that inhabit this world are appealing, instantly lovable and despite the limited ability to express themselves (since they are without faces), they convey humor, emotion and tenderness with exceptional ease. Admittedly the second half of the film does not match the wonder of the first, perhaps necessarily so, as the introduction of the challenges for Eve and WALL*E are needed to generate the wilder sense of adventure, advance the plot and provide the capitol for the optimistic ending. As the adventure continues on the ship that houses the last of humanity, a wayward species of indulgence and laziness (quite pointed, in fact), the love story that this film promises to be from the moment Eve arrives on earth becomes the finest quality of the film. This film is, beyond the family friendly adventure, a superb love story that will warm your heart. The environmentally conscious thread of the plot is also a welcome element. Less obvious than Happy Feet, but every bit as important.

2008 has produced a number of incredible films and films that are incredibly fun. Without a doubt, WALL*E has cause to be considered the best, though the competition is quite strong. Pixar can reasonably be lauded as the greatest animation producers of the last 20 years, with beautiful and sophisticated animation, phenomenal storytelling and a knack for identifying the very best voice talent for the characters. WALL*E and other characters, though without ‘voices’, have their vocals designed by the legendary Ben Burtt, a master in sound design. Eve is voiced by Elissa Knight, though she provides more emotive sounds than words. The human characters are voiced by some recognizable talent, such as Fred Willard as Shelby Forthright, the ‘BnL’ CEO, Jeff Garlin as the ships Captain and in the role of the ships computer, Sigourney Weaver - a delicious idea for those of us who know how much grief she got from ‘Mother’, the ships computer in the film Alien. All round, the accomplishments in WALL*E can not be overstated. Technically speaking, this is without a doubt the best animated film to date and is certainly in the running for the best animated film all round from the last 20 years. I must give a final mention to Thomas Newman and his delightful score. Absent the melancholy of his wonderful Finding Nemo soundtrack, he provides a textured score filled with plucking stings of curiosity, innovative beats and raspy wind instruments that balance the more futuristic techno elements. Throw in songs that take us back to the first half of the 20th century and you have a winner in every way.





The Video - htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_half.gif out of htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gif

WALL*E is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Outstanding quality. The hazy world that we first enter is rich with intricate specificity in the image. The natural look and feel, incredibly real, is sublime. As is discussed in the special features, the depth of field and use of out of focus elements in the mise-en-scene create a beautiful look as if it were filmed on location, this coupled with the way the camera moves at times, trying to catch up with the onscreen action, creates a perfect sense of realism and its imperfections. The artistry is allowed to shine on this exceptional release. On DVD, this film looks as good in places as some Blu-rays, sharp with exquisite detail, lavish colors and rich, warm tones on earth and defined, bright colors on the Axiom. The only way this image could be any better would be on the Blu-Ray format.




The Sound - htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_half.gif out of htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gif

WALL*E comes with an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX audio track, as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 option. The DD5.1EX track is active and lively. Thomas Newman’s score is well balanced throughout and the multitude of sounds designed by Ben Burtt zip, wiz, wallow, sparkle, pounce and punctuated in such a dynamic way throughout the entire experience, that the film is felt as much by what you hear as what you see. Directional effects and surround action creates the audio ambience that sets you on the baron earth and inside the fully automated Axiom space cruise ship. Subtle, soft, thunderous and bombastic in appropriate measure, you will be impressed!
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The Extra's - htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gif out of htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gif

Disc One
Presto – Animated Theatrical Short - (5:17) – The CGI short shown before the film in theaters this summer features a very hungry magic show rabbit and his magician owner battling each other because the rabbit is hungry. A very good short.

BURN*E - (7:35) – A scene from the WALL*E seen from the perspective of a repair droid in this fun short. We see him suffer mishaps and frustrations, oblivious to the plot going on around him. Very funny.

Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds From The Sound Up - (18:43) – Legendary sound designer Ben Burtt shares the secrets of creating the many sounds in WALL*E. This film exists at the mercy of the sound design and the breadth of sounds needed, the diversity required and uniqueness important in telling the story required exceptional talent. Ben Burtt delivers. Looking back at how sounds were created for some of Disney’s early creations is fascinating.

Deleted Scenes - (9:30) – Two deleted scenes with optional introductions by director Andrew Stanton. The two scenes are ‘Garbage Airlock’ (where WALL*E and EVE’s roles are revered) and ‘Dumped’).

Audio Commentary with director Andrew Stanton – Good commentary from top-notch animation director Andrew Stanton. Revealing of source inspiration, effort and challenges, the director comfortable shares some good information.

Sneak Peek: WALL*E’s Tour of the Universe - (00:50)


Disc Two

Humans
Behind the Scenes - An incredible series of shorts that peel back the curtain on this film’s creation and inspiration. This is the cream of the crop of peeks into the production of a superb Pixar film.
-The Imperfect Lens – Creating the look of WALL*E - (14:32)
-Captain’s Log – The Evolution of Humnas - (7:57)
-Notes on a Score - (10:39)
-Life of a Shot – Deconstructing the Pixar Process - (5:08)
-ROBO-EVERYTHING - (5:46)
-WALL*E and EVE - (7:00)

BnL Shorts - (9:30) – A look at ‘BnL’ commercials from the global conglomerate – tongue buried in cheek.
-The History of Buy N Large
-Operation Cleanup
-All Aboard the Axiom
-Captaining the Axiom
-Meet the BNL Bots

The Pixar Story by Leslie Iwerks - (1:28:30) – An important look at the history and artistry of animation and the company that has come to define excellence in the medium. This is on a level of impressive quality and information rarely found in special features on DVD. A real treasure.

Deleted Scenes - (12:45) – Two more additional deleted scenes, again with optional introductions by Director Andrew Stanton. The scenes here are “Secret Files” (from an earlier version of the film) and “Docking” (again from an earlier version with different designs for humans – here they are more like living pillows that grunt and groan).


Robots
WALL*E’s Treasures & Trinkets - (4:54) – Fun character playground where our robot favourites enjoy playing around and having fun.

Bot Files - Explore the many robot characters from the film (28 of them), with these character files. Cute, but I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the Robots menu from this extra.

“Lots of Bots” Story book. – Available with read-along and play-along mode.


Disc Three
A digital copy of the film.







Final Thoughts

The majesty of animation, the delight of the storytelling art and out of this world artistry all come together with extraordinary results in this delightful, funny and heartwarming sensation. With comments on consumption, waste, commercialism, capitalism and carelessness, WALL*E mixes some serious ideas with great humor, warmth and genuinely amazing animation. A pure delight and a triumph for all.

Note: This 3-Disc special edition comes in an interesting, environmentally friendly packaging design - you pull out from the left disc one, and from the right, discs two and three. A little odd at first, but quite clever. Kids should like it.
 

Overall Score - htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_half.gif out of htf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gifhtf_images_smilies_star.gif



Neil Middlemiss
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"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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#2 of 18 OFFLINE   Don Solosan

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Posted November 15 2008 - 11:06 AM

Neil,

That's "Hello, Dolly."

#3 of 18 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted November 15 2008 - 11:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solosan
Neil,

That's "Hello, Dolly."

LOL - I was thinking Hello Dolly but still wrote My Fair Lady. Thanks Posted Image
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#4 of 18 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted November 15 2008 - 12:00 PM

This is indeed a great DVD.

#5 of 18 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted November 16 2008 - 12:03 AM

Its good to see that Pixar is back to applying their usual slavish levels of attention to Wall-E on dvd.

Now if only Cars and Ratatouille would get the same treatment.

#6 of 18 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted November 17 2008 - 03:36 AM

If disc three contains "A digital copy of the film," what's on disc one?
 

 


#7 of 18 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted November 17 2008 - 03:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cafink
If disc three contains "A digital copy of the film," what's on disc one?

The movie and special features. Disc three is just for getting the movie onto your PC or iPod etc. Here are some details about what that all means:

DisneyFile: Disney DVD Digital Copies
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#8 of 18 OFFLINE   David_P

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Posted November 19 2008 - 02:58 AM

great movie, what crappy packaging... They must really want you to rebuy this DVD over and over as it gets scratched to crap.

My copy has been played once, pulled in and out of the packaging probably a half-dozen times, and it's already scratched up.

Irony: buying a DVD in 'enviromental packaging", recycling it, and using 'non-enviromental' keepcase instead.

Sounds like something that Buy-Large would dream up.

:-(

DP

#9 of 18 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted November 19 2008 - 03:46 AM

I actually like the idea of ecologically friendly packaging, but it seems like it defeats the purpose when you also dedicate an entire physical disc to a digital copy of the film that could have been downloaded (albeit much more slowly).

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#10 of 18 OFFLINE   BillyFeldman

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Posted November 19 2008 - 03:52 AM

Excellent review - but what does it take to get five stars from you, Neil? Posted Image

The DVD is one of the best I've ever seen and I loved the film even more than when I saw it in the theaters. I think when the history books are written, this will go down as an all time classic.

#11 of 18 OFFLINE   JackCG

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Posted November 19 2008 - 08:16 AM

Sneak Peek: WALL*E’s Tour of the Universe - (00:50)

I have the Canadian copy of this movie, both the single disc and the 3 disc set. The feature list on the cover shows that the tour of the universe sneak peek is on disc 1 but for the life of me I cannot find it anywhere. Could this have been left off of the Canadian disc? Or do I need lessons in navigating a DVD menu

Help, please

#12 of 18 OFFLINE   ScottHM

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Posted November 21 2008 - 10:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_P
great movie, what crappy packaging...
Agreed. I hope I never see another 'custom' case like this one.

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#13 of 18 OFFLINE   Richard Michael Clark

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Posted November 26 2008 - 01:57 AM

What's the bitrate for the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX audio track?

#14 of 18 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted November 30 2008 - 09:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JackCG
Sneak Peek: WALL*E’s Tour of the Universe - (00:50)

I have the Canadian copy of this movie, both the single disc and the 3 disc set. The feature list on the cover shows that the tour of the universe sneak peek is on disc 1 but for the life of me I cannot find it anywhere. Could this have been left off of the Canadian disc? Or do I need lessons in navigating a DVD menu

Help, please

Hi Jack - You should find it on disc one > Bonus features > listed last, beneath the option for the audio commentary.
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#15 of 18 ONLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted November 30 2008 - 09:11 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Michael Clark
What's the bitrate for the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX audio track?

Hi Richard - I don't have the ability to check that right now. Does anyone else know?
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#16 of 18 ONLINE   Bill Thomann

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Posted December 01 2008 - 02:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottHM
Agreed. I hope I never see another 'custom' case like this one.

---------------

I also agree. Just got my copy from Deep Discount and the dvd is as great as reviewed & the packaging is even worse than I'd feared. I'd like to beat the crap out of whoever designed it. Moving it to a blank 3 disc case. All Disney did was throw a lot of business to the people who sell 3 disc cases. Let me save the planet in my own ways.

#17 of 18 OFFLINE   Sumnernor

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Posted December 04 2008 - 08:15 AM

I just got from Amazon-UK today and I agree that the case is terrible!Posted Image I haven't decided what to do. In every case the 2 discs are safely in another container. They will end up in a 2 DVD (?thin?) box and perhaps I will photocopy /cut the original "box".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
Hi Jack - You should find it on disc one > Bonus features > listed last, beneath the option for the audio commentary.
It appears that the UK version DOESN'T have the Sneak Peek: WALL*E’s Tour of the Universe. In my case underneath the options for audio commentary is "Main Menu"??? Has anyone found in on the UK version?

#18 of 18 OFFLINE   Jeff_L

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Posted December 06 2008 - 10:33 AM

I have had 2 3-disc sets in a row be defective, has anyone else run into this problem? The first time I watched the feature on my PC and it played fine with no problems at all. Then I wanted to watch it on my new 50" Panasonic plasma TV through my Playstation 2 and in the 1st 5 minutes of playback the movie stutters and starts, accompanied by block pixelization about 10 times. None of my other DVDs do this so I figure it must be a defective disc. I exchange it, put the new disc in my PS2, same thing. Well a couple days later oddly enough I get a Playstation 3, so I put it in that, no problems, I think it is some weird combination of WALL-E and PS2, but after about 30 minutes when EVE's spaceship lands the movie hangs, then skips forward about 5 minutes! I fast reversed and could see everything that it skipped, when I let it play forward again it played mostly ok, but skipped a few times maybe 1 second forward at a time. So once again I think it is the movie not my playback devices. Anyone else experiencing problems? I have taken it back once to my local BX (I'm in South Korea working with the US Army) and don't feel like explaining it again, they aren't very helpful and probably think I am lying. Has Disney said anything that they know there is an issue with defective discs? It doesn't have any physical scratches. Thank you.


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