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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andrew Stanton
Cast:
Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, MacInTalk, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver
Writing Credits:
Andrew Stanton (and story), Pete Docter (story), Jim Reardon

Tagline:
After 700 years of doing what he was built for - he'll discover what he's meant for.

Synopsis:
The highly acclaimed director of Finding Nemo and the creative storytellers behind Cars and Ratatouille transport you to a galaxy not so far away for a new cosmic comedy adventure about a determined robot named WALL-E. After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, the curious and lovable WALL-E discovers a new purpose in life when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. Join them and a hilarious cast of characters on a fantastic journey across the universe. Transport yourself to a fascinating new world with Disney-Pixar's latest adventure, now even more astonishing on DVD and loaded with bonus features, including the exclusive animated short film BURN-E. WALL-E is a film your family will want to enjoy over and over again.

Box Office:
Budget
$180 million.
Opening Weekend
$63.087 million on 3992 screens.
Domestic Gross
$222.722 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.39:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 11/18/2008

Bonus:
DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Stanton
• “BURN-E” and “Presto” Animated Shorts
• Deleted Scenes
• Sneak Peek at “WALL-E’s Tour of the Universe”
• “Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from the Sound Up” Featurette
• Previews
DVD Two:
• “The Pixar Story” Documentary
• Additional Deleted Scenes
• “The Imperfect Lens: Creating the Look of WALL-E” Featurette
• “Captain’s Log: The Evolution of Humans” Featurette
• “Notes on a Score” Featurette
• “Life of a Shot: Deconstructing the Pixar Process” Featurette
• “Robo-Everything”
• “WALL-E and EVE” Featurette
• Five BnL Shorts
• “WALL-E’s Treasures and Trinkets” Animated Short
• “Bot Files”
• “Lots of Bots” Read-Along Storybook
DVD Three:
• Digital Copy


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


WALL*E: Special Edition (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 11, 2008)

Maybe someday a Pixar flick will tank at the box office, but that day didn’t come in 2008. With a $222 million gross, the summer’s WALL-E fell into box office territory pretty similar to its predecessors, as the vast majority have earned somewhere in the mid-$200 million range. And given its unusual subject matter and story-telling style, I think it’s reasonable to believe only Pixar could’ve done so well with the tale at hand.

Set more than seven centuries in the future, humans overwhelmed the Earth with all their garbage and abandoned the planet until it again becomes habitable. “WALL-E” stands for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class”. That means WALL-E is a robot created to clean up the tremendous amount of trash that covers the Earth so people can eventually return. WALL-E used to have partners, but they’ve all broken down, so he remains the only cleaning droid.

WALL-E continues to do his job, but the little metallic guy feels lonely and bored. He befriends a cockroach but longs for something more. This comes into his life when a mysterious droid called EVE arrives on the Earth. EVE exists to find some signs of organic life on the Earth, and she does so when she discovers that WALL-E’s cultivated a little plant.

This cancels the couple’s burgeoning relationship. EVE’s programming puts her into shutdown mode immediately as she awaits retrieval from her masters. WALL-E stays by her side the whole time and follows her when a ship takes her back into space. We follow their adventures as WALL-E meets people for the first time, EVE’s discovery impacts humanity, and WALL-E simply tries to keep his love.

As I’ve undoubtedly mentioned in the past, Pixar’s unparalleled track record sets up extremely high expectations whenever the studio produces a new movie. Because the prior flicks have been so good, fans expect near-perfection from each release, so some of the movies may disappoint, at least during initial screenings. For instance, I didn’t find myself too impressed by The Incredibles when I saw it on the big screen, but my second go-round on DVD allowed me to more fully embrace its charms.

This doesn’t guarantee that each Pixar flick will improve with additional viewings. For example, I still have yet to really appreciate Finding Nemo, and I maintain lukewarm feelings toward Monsters, Inc. Don’t get me wrong: I think they’re enjoyable movies. I just don’t believe that they match up with the greatness of efforts like Toy Story 2 or A Bug’s Life.

As you probably already deduced, this means I didn’t find myself enchanted by WALL-E when I first watched it in the summer of 2008. I enjoyed it but it didn’t stick with me in a strong fashion. Like Nemo, I thought it offered a likable experience and that was about it.

Now that I’ve seen WALL-E twice, I still don’t feel especially enthusiastic about it, but I think I better embrace its charms. My main complaint both then and now relates to its heavy-handed message. During his audio commentary, director Andrew Stanton claims that he never intended the film to boast an environmental message or any particular statement. Seriously?

I suppose that may be true, but the satirical side of WALL-E seems far too pointed to be coincidental. The film depicts a future in which a wasteful consumerist society so ruins the Earth that they have to flee into the limbo of space. It shows humans so pampered by technology that they become sedentary and morbidly obese. It also features a world in which corporations dominate affairs to such a degree that a CEO runs the planet.

And Stanton wants us to think that he didn’t attempt a message there? Sorry, but I’m calling shenanigans on that. Of course, there’s a little bit of biting the hand that feeds him, as Disney offers a good example of a corporation with aspirations of world domination. Wal-Mart clearly acts as the main inspiration for the movie’s “Buy N Large”, but it’s not like Disney is without sin; any studio with the audacity to refer to “Disney DVD” and “Disney BluRay” – like they invented the formats – could stand to be knocked down a few pegs.

So I don’t mind the barbs aimed at anti-corporate and anti-consumer excess; I could just live without the obvious way the movie portrays them. We find very little subtlety in this side of things, as it makes its point very clear. Perhaps that seems appropriate for a film with a large contingent of child viewers, but I think Stanton and the other filmmakers could’ve done things in a more low-key manner.

Otherwise I find a lot to like about WALL-E, especially during its first 40 minutes or so. That portion of the flick offers some of the most gutsy filmmaking you’re likely to discover in a summer blockbuster, as WALL-E essentially offers a silent film during that span. Of course, we have plenty of sound effects, and both WALL-E and EVE vocalize in their limited fashion, but much of this section could’ve played back in the 1920s.

And it works. I don’t know if Stanton could’ve sustained our attention over 98 of that stuff, but I admit I felt almost disappointed when the robots met the humans and the presentation took a more standard turn. It would’ve been interesting to get a full feature-length flick with such minimal techniques.

That’s especially true due to the inventiveness seen in the first section of WALL-E. Of course, plenty of cleverness continues to appear the rest of the way, but dialogue gives the filmmakers a minor crutch absent from the first part, so the movie loses its distinctiveness.

But only to a minor degree, as WALL-E remains lively and enjoyable. Much of the credit goes to the depiction of the title character. He bears an obvious Chaplin influence, and the movie makes him charming and lovable. It’s not easy to make a robot with such limited movement capabilities into a three-dimensional personality, but the film pulls off that feat. WALL-E is a sweet, likable little guy, and his personality helps carry much of the film.

This leaves WALL-E as a Pixar flick that I like but don’t love. It maintains my attention, and it looks great; the production design really realizes the various settings to a terrific degree. I can find a lot to enjoy here, but I simply don’t think WALL-E ever quite makes the leap to brilliance. Still, pretty good Pixar beats most other efforts.


The DVD Grades: Picture A+/ Audio A-/ Bonus A

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5121 Stars Number of Votes: 41
325:
24:
5 3:
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21:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main