WALL-E appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Pixar flicks always look great on DVD, and WALL-E continued that positive trend.
At all times, sharpness remained immaculate. I saw virtually no signs of softness during this concise presentation. Even the widest shots remained tight and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. As for source flaws, you’ll find none in this clean image.
During the shots on Earth, a dirty brown palette dominated. Some other hues emerged in the first act, but the film reserved its brighter tones for its time on the Axiom. I thought the colors were always full and dynamic, as the movie replicated the tones well. Blacks seemed firm and dark, while shadows presented good clarity and delineation. This was a splendid transfer that completely satisfied.
And the flick sounded good, too! Ben Burtt may be the best sound designer in the business, so he brought a great sense of life to WALL-E. The movie boasted an excellent sense of place and movement at all times. We found plenty of activity around the spectrum, and with its space setting, many elements zipped about the room. The surrounds kicked in with a lot of unique information and brought nice details to the table. Too much of the movie remained subtle for this to be a truly butt-kicking mix, but it did all the little things right to make it work.
Audio quality was solid. Speech appeared natural and concise, with no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed lively and dynamic, and effects followed suit. Those elements sounded full and accurate. The film boasted nice low-end response to flesh out the spectrum. I found a lot to like about this very good soundtrack.
Quite a few extras fill out this three-disc Special Edition. On DVD One, we open with an audio commentary from director Andrew Stanton. He offers a running, screen-specific piece that looks at the use of material from Hello, Dolly!, storytelling and the emphasis on silent film material, the flick’s concept and development, influences, character and visual design, voice and audio design, cast and performances, research, music, and a mix of other production subjects.
Stanton gives us an excellent commentary here. He digs into the flick with gusto and provides a really rich, insightful take on the movie. Stanton aptly illustrates the choices made for WALL-E and provides a great deal of context. This is a thoughtful, informative and very enjoyable chat.
Two animated shorts appear here. Presto (5:17) ran prior to theatrical screenings of WALL-E, while BURN-E (7:36) is new and exclusive to this set. The former features a hungry magician’s rabbit who causes havoc with the act when he doesn’t get fed. The short features a definite Looney Tunes vibe and provides some fun dialogue-free antics.
As for BURN-E, it focuses on a repair droid and shows what he was up to during the Axiom-based drama of WALL-E. It’s a cute look at a different part of the story, but it doesn’t really go anywhere terribly interesting.
Two Deleted Scenes fill a total of nine minutes, 36 seconds. We can see “Garbage Airlock” (4:51) and “Dumped” (1:29). In “Airlock”, WALL-E rescues EVE, while “Dumped” shows a romantic moment between the robots. Both are interesting to see, especially since “Airlock” took the story in a different direction – and also because they feature virtually finished animation, something rarely observed in deleted scenes for cartoons.
We can watch these with or without introductions from Stanton. He gives us background about the scenes and also lets us know why they got the boot. As usual, Stanton gives us good info. (Note that the overall running time listed includes Stanton’s intros but the individual timings do not.)
Next we find a Sneak Peek at “WALL-E’s Tour of the Universe”. This 50-second clip advertises… something. It really doesn’t let us know what “Tour of the Universe” will be, as it just sends us to a website for more information.
For some behind the scenes info, we go to a featurette called Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from the Sound Up. In this 18-minute and 43-second piece, we hear from Stanton, sound and character voice designer Ben Burtt, film editor Stephen Schaffer, producer Jim Morris, co-producer Lindsey Collins, Disney sound designer Jimmy MacDonald, and directing animator Angus MacLane. As implied by the title, “Worlds” looks at the history of audio in animated films, and Burtt provides some insights into his work on WALL-E. We find some fun details in this informative piece.
A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for Up, Blu-Ray Discs, Pinocchio, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with promos for The Secret of the Magic Gourd, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Disney Movie Rewards and Disney Parks. No trailer for WALL-E appears in the set.
Over on DVD Two, the extras split into two areas. Humans sticks with a more technical, behind the scenes orientation. This section begins with a documentary entitled The Pixar Story. During the one-hour, 28-minute and 30-second show, we find notes from Stanton, filmmakers John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, George Lucas, Pete Docter, and Lee Unkrich, animators Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Glen Keane, and Jim Murphy, producer Don Hahn, Pixar co-founder Alvy Ray Smith, Pixar president Ed Catmull, former NYIT president Alexander Schure, Pixar VP of Technology Rob Cook, Pixar animation scientist Eben Ostby, Pixar supervising technical director William Reeves, Pixar senior scientist Loren Carpenter, Pixar technical director Tom Porter, ILM visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren, Pixar/Apple Computers CEO Steve Jobs, computer scientist Alan Kay, former Lasseter assistant/modeling and shading manager Deirdre Warin, former Walt Disney Company chairman Peter Schneider, Pixar technical director Tom Porter, former Pixar story supervisor Joe Ranft, former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner, former Walt Disney Animation president Thomas Schumacher, Walt Disney Company director emeritus and consultant Roy E. Disney, film historian Leonard Maltin, former Robertson Stephens Investment Bank CEO Mike McCaffrey, Pixar producer Darla K. Anderson, Pixar University professor Randy Nelson, Lasseter’s wife Nancy, composer Randy Newman, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, Walt Disney’s daughter Diane, story artist/writer Joe Grant, and actors Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Billy Crystal.
The program looks at how many future Pixar and Disney filmmakers came together at school in the 1970s as well as Lasseter’s time at Disney. From there we go through the origins/development of computer technology in movies, Lasseter’s move to Lucasfilm and the roots of Pixar. The rest of the program looks at the studio’s early shorts and shift to feature films with Toy Story, and their subsequent success and achievements.
The 2007 documentary provides a great look at Pixar. It offers a detailed look at the studio’s development and doesn’t shy away from potentially controversial areas; that means it never comes across like a happy-happy sanitized take on matters. The show always proves informative and interesting as it takes us through the studio’s history.
Two Additional Deleted Scenes last a total of 12 minutes, 51 seconds. These offer “Secret Files” (3:21) and “Docking” (5:59). The first one shows an alternate piece of exposition related to the Axiom’s mission, while “Docking” depicts WALL-E’s arrival at the ship. Neither adds much, though they remain intriguing to see, especially since “Docking” depicts greatly de-evolved humans.
Unlike the animated scenes on DVD One, these come as story reels. They also provide the usual intros from Stanton; he continues to deliver good info about the material. (As with the earlier pair of scenes, the total running time includes optional intros from Stanton.)
Six featurettes appear under the banner of “Behind the Scenes”. The Imperfect Lens: Creating the Look of WALL-E goes for 14 minutes, 33 seconds and provides remarks from Stanton, Morris, Collins, director of photography: camera Jeremy Lasky, director of photography: lighting Danielle Feinberg, production designer Ralph Eggleston, visual consultants Roger Deakins and Dennis Muren, supervising technical director Nigel Hardwidge, technical pipeline supervisor John Warren, technical development lead Lucas Ives, post-animation camera artist Craig Good, and effects supervisor David MacCarthy. The program looks at computer camerawork, film influences and other aspects of the visual design. The thoughts about how to use the camera in the CG domain prove especially valuable, and this piece digs into its topic well.
For a look at the non-robotic characters, we go to Captain’s Log: The Evolution of Humans. In this seven-minute and 58-second piece, we hear from Stanton, MacLane, Morris, Eggleston, Hardwidge, Burtt, story artist Derek Thompson, character supervisor Bill Wise, story supervisor Jim Reardon, character art director Jason Deamer, and character modeling lead Jason Bickerstaff. We see the early inclination to use gelatinous aliens instead of humans and the changes that came to the story. We got a hint of this early plan in the deleted scenes, but “Evolution” fleshes out the issue in a compelling manner.
From there we move to Notes on a Score. The 10-minute and 42-second piece offers comments from Stanton, Schaffer, Collins, Morris, composer Thomas Newman, and music editor Bill Bernstein. As expected, “Notes” looks at the movie’s music. As usual, the featurette offers a tight, incisive take on its topic, so it merits your time.
Next comes the five-minute and 10-second Life of a Shot: Deconstructing the Pixar Process. It features Stanton, Morris, Eggleston, Burtt, MacLane, Bickerstaff, assistant to the director Marguerite Enright, art coordinator Zoë Boxer, story artist Peter Sohn, layout artist Bob Whitehill, animators Wendell Lee and Bret Parker, set shading lead Chris Burrows, production artist Jennifer Chang, set dressing leads/layout artists Derek Williams and Alison Leaf, digital painter Japeth Pieper, technical lighting lead Erik Smitt, effects sequence lead Chris Chapman, production artist Jay Shuster, character articulation artist Austin Lee, character shading artist Brandon Onstott, and render technical director Mark VandeWettering.
The short piece escorts us through some short – and seemingly simple – shots. Essentially it acts to teach us that it takes a village to make an animated film. The focus remains superficial, but it’s still neat to see how many hands touch each small bit.
Robo-Everything lasts five minutes, 46 seconds as it provides info from Stanton, Deamer, MacLane, Bickerstaff, Wise, Shuster, and animators Victor Navone and Amber Martorelli. This program looks at all the work put into the creation of the movie’s secondary droids. Some nice details emerge in this fun featurette.
After this we shift to the seven-minute, two-second WALL-E and EVE. It includes remarks from Stanton, Reardon, Shuster, Wise, Navone, Lee, MacLane, Bickerstaff, Warren,
supervising animator Alan Barillaro, supervising animator Steve Hunter, and character articulation artist Sajan Skaria. This one follows the same approach as the prior featurette except it concentrates on the lead characters. It continues to educate and entertain.
Five BnL Shorts go for a total of eight minutes, 51 seconds. These let us get a closer look at the commercials occasionally seen in the movie – and some that I don’t think appear at all. Some of these don’t get much airing in the final flick, so it’s cool to view them in full.
With that we move to the more kid-oriented Robots section of the DVD. WALL-E’s Treasures and Trinkets runs four minutes, 57 seconds as it shows WALL-E and pals as they play around with objects like soccer balls and Hula Hoops. The short offers modest entertainment, but it’s reasonably fun.
For more info about the flick’s droids, we go to the Bot Files. These let us learn facts related to WALL-E, EVE and 26 of the flick’s other robots. We get a little bit of text and narration to tell us about the characters. I like this component a lot, especially since it allows us to see all the thought that went into some little-used droids.
“Robots” ends with a Read-Along Storybook. Entitled “Lots of Bots”, this piece works differently than the usual Disney storybook. For one, it requires more interactivity, as it forces the viewer to assemble robots from various pieces. It also takes a rhyming, Dr. Seuss tone and quizzes the viewer. It’s probably best for the kiddies, but at least it’s more creative than the usual dull storybook.
Finally, DVD Three includes a Digital Copy of WALL-E. It seems like every DVD provides this option these days; it allows you to easily transfer the flick to a portable device. I have no use for it, but I guess someone must dig it.
Because of their long roster of continued excellence, a pretty good Pixar flick can feel like a disappointment. That’s the category into which WALL-E falls. The movie provides a charming, enjoyable experience, but it's not one that matches with the studio’s best work. The DVD provides stellar picture quality along with very good audio and a strong roster of extras. Although I don’t love WALL-E, I do like it a lot, and I strongly recommend this terrific DVD.