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DVD Review: Wall•E (3-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray)
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Wall
WallӢE
3-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Starring Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 18, 2008

The states of bewilderment and wonderment that was colonized in characters and stories involving toys, fish, cars and rats isn’t as powerfully conceived with robots. That is not to say Wall”¢E falls flat on its face either. There is truth to be told in a post-apocalyptic animated film that echoes a kids version of An Inconvenient Truth. Yet, as the ego unceasingly begins to swell at the studios of Pixar, they should realize that conquering space is much more arduous than conquering a boy’s bedroom, a French restaurant, a run down Route 66, and the Atlantic Ocean.

There is something magnificent lurking in the first half of Wall”¢E, the half that winces at the use of any dialogue for the first 40 minutes and magically pulls it off. The camera comprehends the same magnificence as well as it journeys down from space playing the tune “Put On Your Sunday clothes,” only to find itself coming through the clouds to meet a desolate Earth where the human race is no longer present. We glimpse massive skyscrapers that aren’t made of metal but of neatly packed squares of rubbish. They are neatly placed atop of each other courtesy of the last trash clean-up robot on Earth named WALL”¢E. He continues his normal routine everyday not really knowing that he’s all alone save for his best friend, a cockroach.

This life he came to know then gets interrupted by a colossal spaceship that lands where he works. On board is a sleek white robot (looks like an iPod) that was sent from the outer space ship Axiom. It goes by the name EVE and she’s sent to find any life forms on Earth. To go along with that, she finds WALL”¢E, who’s constantly following her around like a shy boy in love. It’s with this odd and unemotional relationship between two robots that director Andrew Stanton, of Pixar’s Finding Nemo, not only hopes to cash in, but bases the entire adventure around it. The outcome is a two-sided film that tips heavily in favor when our robots are stationed on Earth rather than up in space.

Their first meeting is sweet. When WALL”¢E and EVE exchange names with each other, he stutters at first. This is just to show us how long the poor thing has been without any conversation. He gives her what she came to look for, without knowing, a little plant in a beat up boot. Before he knows it she closes up shop and leaves to take it back to Axiom’s lazy captain to prove that it’s safe to go back to planet Earth.

Axiom is a ship where all the humans now reside in the 28th century because of Earth going to shambles. No one living has yet to visit it. All of them are obese and have the motto “Why walk?” as they glide in their hovering chairs, whatever they desire being all at arm’s length. WALL”¢E clings himself to EVE’s ship just before it’s about to depart and finds himself flabbergasted at the people and their style of living amongst the Axiom. The only bright scenes here is Pixar’s ability to pay strict attention to close detail.

WALLӢE can very well be the most loveable and cutest thing since E.T. Throughout the film, Pixar feels the same way. A grateful little thing who finds utter fascination in the simplest of things: a bra, a lighter, and a Rubix cube. He finds this stuff in the heaps of rubbish just before he stashes a pile of it inside of himself a squashes it down to a compact square. Placing all of what he discovers in his living space shows just how little it takes to please him. His space is inside a box where Christmas lights are strung out, a talking rubber fish is on the wall, and the musical Hello Dolly! is continuously playing to his pleasure.

Astonishing in every sense of the word is how Pixar created WALL”¢E. I’m surely not talking about how he looks — Pixar always succeeds at that — but it’s his movement that awestruck me. The subtlest slight of his robotic hand or the delicate nod of his binocular-like head, all of this shown in the early stages of the movie where something magnificent is lurking; this is it. All of it seems to be taken from the silent film stars such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Notice how WALL”¢E never really plans anything he does, but it’s rather all by accident that he achieves his goals.

Wall”¢E in its first half is a great silent film, with the occasional grunts, that focuses on a robot’s beguilement. He is as innocent a character you’ll ever come across. When he goes to bed at night to meet yet another day, he goes into his shell like a turtle would do and rocks himself back and forth like a baby that needs to be cradled. Leaving the movie, these will be the scenes that you and the children will walk away from cherishing and thinking that if Pixar stayed with this concept — a robot’s fascination — they would’ve created a gem that is so rare in recent movies.

Sadly enough, with the previous experiences Pixar delighted us with, it’s going to be tough for their new films to stand their own ground. Prior to WALL”¢E being heaved into space dealing with issues that become tiresome and repetitive, the movie is a masterpiece. No emotional punch or kick in the gut that is inevitable with Pixar films is found here and that is a rarity. Instead, the punch comes square in the face by way of its haunting score, luminous effects, color palette, and the loveble looking WALL”¢E.

Special Features

Blu-Ray Picture
I didn’t adore Wall”¢E like I did past Pixar films, but I’m not going to deny it its ability to enthrall nor its ability to capture what is usually dismissed in other animated films. Disney/Pixar literally outdoes itself with this Blu-Ray package; a whopping 3-disc collector’s case that is loaded with special features and a digital copy of the film. The outcome is a Blu-Ray necessity. With the high definition transfer, Wall”¢E and the Pixar gurus display an unprecedented amount of pristine clarity. Objects appearing in the foreground would usually appear hazy and diluted, here they are enhanced with vivacious life; vitality is guaranteed. Pixar has a past history of detailing the most minute of details, but with Wall”¢E they actually create magic. We are able to see things out of the corner of our eye. Every element in the picture frame is an essential object of the movie. Nothing goes unnoticed. For the first time in an animated film, the world that Wall”¢E takes place in can be mistaken for an actual place in our infinite universe. What 2001: A Space Odyssey did back in 1968 for sci-fi effects, Wall”¢E is able to conjure up a recipe very similar. In doing so it not only raises the bar, but it elevates it to a new realm for animated films that dare to follow.

Wall”¢E wasn’t filmed like your normal run-of-the-mill animated films. The production team brought in renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins (his work includes There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men). The regular DVD, which comes along with the package, doesn’t do Wall”¢E the justice it deserves. Blu-Ray was created for a film like this. The subtlety of the film’s shadows, the focusing of the camera and lighting the set, are details that usually aren’t built upon by previous animated films. Pixar takes what Blu-Ray offers and pushes it to the brink so it can exemplify Wall”¢E‘s believability. Plain and simple: Wall”¢E is on a deeper level than all other animated films picture-wise. A new reference Blu-ray Wall”¢E is.

DISC 1

Audio Commentary (98 mins) HD
Commentary by director Andrew Stanton that’s presented in a Cine-Explore mode that allows picture-in-picture visualization. The commentary is the same as the standard DVD, but it’s the picture-in-picture mode exclusively on Blu-Ray that allows Stanton to tackle more elaborate scenarios including the development of WALL”¢E and other characters.

Short Film: BURNӢE (8 mins) HD
A PIP mode detailing the story in its early stages.

Short Film: Presto (5 mins) HD

Theatrical Trailers HD
Disney related films including “Narnia,” “Pinocchio” on Blu-Ray and “Earth.”

DISC 2 (Special Features divided into two sections: Robots and Humans)

ROBOTS:

WALL”¢E’s Treasures and Trinkets (5 mins) HD
All those mischievous commercials we’ve seen of Wall”¢E are compiled to form a hilarious short. It’s a vaudeville act showcasing WALL”¢E.

Lots of Bots (3 mins) HD
A game consisting of building your own robot. A very hands-on feature that’s dedicated to the younger crowd.

WALL”¢E’s Tour of the Universe (1 min) HD
A promo using WALLӢE flying around in space indicating to check out walle.com to create your own universe.

Bot Files (11 mins) HD
WALLӢE, EVE and the rest of the Axiom crew are showcased and detailed, labeling their specs and what each one is capable of. A narration explaining their likes and dislikes as well. WALLӢE sure does enjoy those musicals.

HUMANS:

Deleted Scenes (23 mins) HD
Four scenes, some unfinished and finished, are shown with a substantial amount of information. There’s a brief introduction by director Stanton indicating why he put them in in the first place and why he decided to take him out.

BnL Shorts (8 mins) HD
A startling and hypnotic feature foraying into the ads that helped provoke the humans in to joining the “beautiful and luxurious” Axiom ship where “anything is possible.”

Documentary: The Pixar Story (85 mins) HD
The best feature Wall”¢E offers. Disney could have sold this as a separate documentary. It’s a fascinating and an all-encompassing look at the history behind computer animation and the birth of Pixar Studios. George Lucas, Steve Jobs, Tom Hanks, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, and other Pixar brainiacs weigh in on the events beginning in 1979 which led to creating Wall”¢E. The other cool indicator within this feature is it shows clips of Pixar’s previous films all in high definition. Every one of them is due out in a matter of time on Blu-Ray, including classic Disney films like “Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” This is a beautiful feature to look at.

Gallery HD

Over a hundred still galleries including both conceptual art and more elaborate drawings of characters and settings in the film.

Worldwide Trailers and a Super Bowl Spot HD

Behind the Scenes (42 mins) HD
“The Imperfect Lens” segment looks at the creating of the WALL”¢E character. The process by which a computer animation is made to look like a science-fiction classic character. The main idea of the segment is to appreciate how the production team created magic with out the use of minimal dialogue in the film. “Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from the Sound Up” is where the sound design team reveals the secrets of their trade, drawing on both modern technology and traditional methods employed by classic Disney Animation. “WALL”¢E and EVE” follows WALL”¢E’s journey through love and the intricacies that come with it.

DISC 3
Digital Copy: Transfer the DVD version of the film to your PC and your iPod.

BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES

Axiom Arcade HD
Four different games associated with WallӢE that you can play with your friends.

3-D Set Fly-Throughs HD
See the film’s locations from an entirely new angle. The Axiom comes to your living room in ways of a jaw-dropping virtual tour. You begin to ask yourself, does this Axiom really exist? Impressing your friends with high definition clarity will now be much more easier; just show them this feature. Also highlighted is a tour of the desolate planet earth and WALL”¢E’s truck.

WallӢE movie rating:
3.5 out of 4

WallӢE Blu-Ray rating:
4 out of 4

2 Comments »

  1. Awesome Review.
    I love this film.

    Comment by Jerry — November 17, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

  2. Nice review, but a couple of things:

    1) Roger Deakins didn’t shoot There Will Be Blood, Robert Elswit did.

    2) Your description of BURN-E makes no sense. I’m assuming you got that short film confused with another special feature.

    Comment by Michael — November 18, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

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