It seems that Pixar can do no wrong. After the phenomenal success of Toy Story in 1995 the company has had a string of hits including Finding Nemo, Cars and Ratatouille to new a few. What makes their movies so special? Well visually they are a treat, but it really comes down to the storyline, and the heart and soul of the characters. Be it the lively nature of the racing cars in Cars, the lovable, but scary, monsters in Monster Inc or the joy in the numerous sea creatures in Finding Nemo each character is given the love and attention that any motion picture star deserves. This time Pixar are looking towards robots...
After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, the curious and lovable WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-class) discovers a new purpose in life when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. Join them and a hilarious cast of characters such as M-O (Microbe Obliterator) on a fantastic journey across the universe!
I'm a big fan of almost all of Pixar's movies, but I put WALL•E right up the top. It's amazing that a movie, with almost no talking for the first half can capture one's heart so much, and indeed the first half of the movie is the most riveting before becoming - ever so slightly - somewhat generic. When you think about robots you don't think of anything too emotive - Robocop, Number 5 from Short Circuit, HAL. Not exactly the most emotive of creatures at the best of times, but WALL•E sets new benchmarks with even the smallest movement of an arm, an eye, or his panel shaped fingers telling his entire mood.
While the first half of the movie is an instant classic, the second half gets ever so slightly generic as WALL•E and EVE get hunted on the Axiom by the security guards (who are of course other robots). Still even through these sections there is enough entertainment to keep you hooked until the very end.
While I really need to give it a bit more time to know for sure, and a few more viewings, I think that this is probably my favourite Pixar movie to date. Perfect for young and old, visually their best movie to date (although I am still undecided about using real-life video footage such as scenes from Hello, Dolly!), and full of the small details we know and love from the company this is a movie which must be watched for all.
Coming to Blu-Ray directly from a digital source it's understandable that this is an absolutely pristine presentation - no telecine wobble, no film artifacts, no dirt or scratches. Encoded at Blu-Ray's standard resolution of 1920 x 1080p in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec this transfer is also free of any form of compression artifacting.
Technically this movie is stunning, but that is only half the story. On an artistic level WALL•E is one of their best with a near photo-realistic wasteland earth filled with garbage, some glorious animation and superb visual effects such as smoke and dust storms. Every year Pixar improve their technology and movie making abilities, and WALL•E has just set a new high mark for them.
This is the first ever Pixar movie to use live-action acting for 'promotional' materials within the movie with Fred Willard playing the CEO of BnL. It's an interesting move, but I actually found it a little jarring to be watching a full CG movie, with CG humans in the second half of the movie, but with promotional materials and video clips from movies (such as Hello, Dolly!) being played at times.
Not to be outdone by the visuals the audio on this disc is equal to the task. In fact, with the first half of the movie having next to no dialogue, much of the emotion comes from the music by composer Thomas Newman and the sound effects from Ben Burtt, which are often extremely subtle but perfectly crafted for this movie. Thanks to the DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 encoding though this lossless audio track is second to none with a lively sound field, wonderful fidelity, and some thumping bass at times (especially when the spaceship lands and takes off). The voiceovers are crystal clear when used and this really is a reference quality audio experience.
Other languages on this disc include English Audio Descriptive (2 channel, 192kbps), as well as Portuguese, Polish, Russian and (we think) Arabic Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 640kbps. Each of these tracks, from brief samples, are of equally impressive quality. Subtitles are also provided in those same languages, and sampling the English track demonstrated no major issues.
Geek Track: Trash Talk & Trivia: This is basically another audio commentary this time with four participants (Bill Wise, Lindsay Wallace, Derek Thompson and Angus McClain) who discuss quite a bit more about the movie. As the track plays you can see silhouettes of the four participants in the bottom corner of the screen for a bit more interest.
Presto (5:15/HD): As with every Pixar release we get a bonus animated movie to enjoy, this time Presto. This short movie tells the tale of a magician, who refuses to give his rabbit the carrot he so desperately wants. When they get on stage, it all goes pear shaped for the magician. Another great short from Pixar.
BURN-E (7:35/HD): This amusing animated short tells the story of BURN-E, one of the many maintenance robots in the movie. It ties into the story extremely well and is a great bonus. It can also be viewed with storyboards.
Wall-E's Treasures and Trinkets (4:56/HD): A hilarious look at Wall-E playing with, and compacting, a series of objects. Probably one of the funniest extras in the set.
"Lots of Bots" Storybook Read Along / Play Along (3:07/HD): One of the younger viewers, an animated book. A bit boring if you're more then a couple of years of age.
Axiom Arcade (HD): A rather entertaining Java based shooter.
Bot Files (11:22/HD): A look at many of the most popular robots that appear in the movie. Entertaining.
Deleted Scenes (23:06/HD): Four deleted scenes are presented here with introduction by Andrew Stanton. These are presented in storyboard form for the most part.
Behind The Scenes - Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds From The Sound Up (18:44/HD): A look with Ben Burtt at creating the sounds for the movie which are such a critical part of the narrative without using speech. This feature looks at the creation of every single sound in the movie given that there was no 'on-set' audio. It also looks at the history of audio in movies.
Behind The Scenes - Captain's Log The Evolution of Humans (7:57/HD): Another interesting featurette which looks at designing humans for the movie.
Behind The Scenes - Notes on a Score (10:39/HD): A look at composing the score for WALL•E with composer Thomas Newman.
Behind The Scenes - Life of a Shot Deconstructing the Pixar Process (5:08/HD): A rather interesting look at how many people work on a single scene in the movie and how they contribute to the finished product.
Behind The Scenes - Wall-E and EVE (7:01/HD): This section looks at the relationship between the two lead robots.
BnL Shorts (9:02/HD): The BnL shorts used on the monitors, and for advertising the galactic cruises. Pretty entertaining in their own right these are worth a look.
3D Set Fly-Throughs (HD): Fly through many of the most interesting sets created for this movie.
Gallery (HD): Split up into Character Design, Layouts & Backgrounds, Visual Development and Publicity there are dozens of still images here for your perusal.
Worldwide Trailers (HD): Domestic Trailer #1, Domestic Trailer #2, Domestic Trailer #3, Trailer 3: French Canadian, Trailer C: Japanese, Trailer F: Italian and Superbowl Spot are all presented here.
Review By: Dave Warner