Directed by Andrew Stanton
Starring voices by John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Fred Willard, Jeff Garlin
Is this another masterpiece from the geniuses at Pixar? If you missed this in the theater, Walt Disney Home Video just released a 3 disc Blu Ray edition and I gave it a go.
The film opens as the audience learns that years of over-consuming and wasteful living on earth have finally taken its toll: humans must live in spacecrafts orbiting the earth while all of the trash and waste is cleaned. This is where we meet Wall-E (Waste Load Lifter-Earth class).
Wall-E is a cute little robot with huge expressive eyes that works long days endlessly clearing away and compacting garbage, though he is the only still “active” robot with his assignment. The “return to earth” project seems to be long abandoned but that doesn’t deter Wall-E. While no other life forms exist, other than a pet cockroach that he has befriended and all other “Wall-E’s” are nonfunctioning, he maintains a positive work ethic and even finds “joy” in the little treasures he finds among the garbage and unending bleakness.
Among these treasures are Christmas lights, Rubik’s cubes and an old VHS tape of Hello Dolly and he daydreams while he listens to “Out There” and “Put on Your Sunday Clothes”. Just a note here, I have never been a fan of Hello Dolly but the ingenious folks at Pixar found a way to get me to be a fan of these musical numbers. Just give me a lonesome big-eyed robot dreaming of another life responding to these songs and I got “it” in an instant.
I digress. Wall-E spends his days working and his nights amusing himself. Until the one day when another robot appears: EVE.
Eve is all slickness and quick silver fast. She is gleaming white and has been sent to look for life on Earth. And Eve has a pretty quick trigger finger too. Wall-E falls in love right away and finds a plant to share with her. After she places the plant inside one of her compartments, she goes “dormant” with only an LED green light indicating what she has found.
Wall-E doesn’t understand what has happened and takes to caring for her day and night. Until, her makers retrieve her and Wall-E follows and his at once catapulted into another world. And, what a world it is.
Humans are now completely immobile, victims of over-indulgence and physical inactivity. They consume drinks and liquefied foods through straws and have strange moveable chairs that float them from place to place, never feeling the need to actually put their feet on the ground and walk. They sit glass eyed in front of video screens and blab non stop into communication devices. They are blobs that exist only to consume and talk.
Wall-E is dealing with this sudden “life” change, trying to connect with EVE again and wondering what his future holds. Will Wall-E find true robot love with EVE and will the Earth be inhabitable again?
Wall-E is another masterful achievement in storytelling and animation from Pixar. What is amazing is that Wall-E is able to communicate so clearly and with only sounds, very few recognizable words. This speaks to the talents of the animators and Ben Burtt, who provided the “voice” of Wall-E.
In fact, Wall-E plays very much like a classic silent film, communicating the plot and emotions of the characters with visuals and not words for a big part of its running time. I first saw the film in a theater that had a wide range of ages in the audience, from a child of around 3-4 years of age to parents and senior citizens. Even the youngest of children sat enthralled and transfixed by the story, almost seemingly unaware that Wall-E was not actually speaking, but just showing his emotions through beeps and sounds and his huge expressive eyes.
Some find the message of the film too heavy handed. And, yes, the message of “consume less” and “move more” is made very clear, I have to say that I respect Pixar for not playing it “safe”. Too many filmmakers and film studios are too afraid of offending anyone to allow anyone to voice a strong statement of any kind. The storytellers were able to weave a subtle love story in with a distinct opinion on what the future may be like if we continue on the same path. Isn’t that the right of any creative person, whether it be a writer, painter, filmmaker or visual artist? Everyone has a right to ruminate on the human condition and what that condition might be like in the future. Think about “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Gattaca”: didn’t these films have a strong “voice” about mankind, technology and the future?
Wall-E is masterful in every way and certainly belongs on your shelf next to Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc or The Incredibles. Pixar once again not only satisfies our high expectations for their films but raises the bar yet again.
The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The image is positively eye popping and may be one of the best the best looking Blu Ray releases I have seen. The detail is very impressive, the color and color palette is positively splendid and the black levels are deep without an instant of “murkiness”. This is a fantastic transfer in every department.
The film is presented in DTS-HD in full 6.1 Surround. The audio is crystal clear and dynamic. Every nuance and sound is vibrant and effective.Dynamic range is tremendous with solid use of the sub woofer keeping things boomy when necessary. The suround speakers are utilized not only for big action surround scenes but also throughout the film with more subtle immersive effects. Teh only real issue might be due to the source. It’s the fact that so much of the film is near silent that the speakers often ahve little to nothing to do.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Wall-E is presented in standard Blu Ray amaray case. The 3rd disc is a digital copy. All of the bonus features are presented in Hi-Def.
A ton of bonus features are available on this release. “Burn-E” is a fun offering. Burn-E is a minor character in the film but you get to see what he is up to when he isn’t directly involved in the goings-on of Wall-E.
The Presto short is included here and is another entertaining Pixar short film. The Pixar Story tells the nuts and bolts of the history of the animation studio. The commentary with Andrew Stanton that is offered is great as well as the one with character supervisor Bill Wise, Story Artist Derek Thompson and lead animator Angus McClain and producer Lindsay Wallace.
There are over 20 minutes of deleted scenes. There are several 2-10 minute features that cover virtually everything from sound design, character design, and art design. The three BnL films that are shown briefly in the film are shown in their entirety. There are two tours of the ship and “universe” shown in the film, a virtual “promo” and a robot storybook and still gallery. And, there are also 4 games that you might have some fun playing.
Overall ( Not an Average) 10/10
The Movie 10/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 10/10
Overall (Not an Average) 10/10