Pixar has delivered successful film after successful film with tons of characters that are etched in the memories of adults and children alike for years to come. Starting with Toy Story, who can forget Woody or Buzz or Rex or Hamm? Don’t forget Finding Nemo that has everyone remembering Nemo, Dory, Marlin, Gill, Crush, and even Bruce. I look back at Cars and laugh thinking of Lightning McQueen, Ramone, Luigi, Chick Hicks, Mack, and yes…sigh…even Tow Mater. Now Pixar has unleashed it’s most recent film upon the loving masses and we’ll all watch it and get a great story with so many memorable characters like…ummm…like, Wall*E!
Earth has been covered in trash, making it totally uninhabitable for all human beings. So the humans leave and travel the world of space in a vacation vessel called the Axiom. Robots have taken over control of the planet, but not in a “takeover” kind of way, but in a helpful sort of way. Thing is they couldn’t really survive the terrain conditions of Earth and hardly any remain at all. Actually only one robot remains and all he does everyday is collect garbage and compact it into very small cubes. He then takes those cubes and sets them up in particular patterns and designs making himself a full-sized garbage city. His only friend is a small cockroach that can survive through just about anything except being crushed. He’s handy, he’s curious, he’s busy, and his name is Wall*E.
Wall*E is a small robot that is all alone in the world except for his friendly cockroach and does whatever he can to make his days go by. He spends the days making compacting garbage and collecting knick-knacks that he finds unique and interesting. Things are the same every single day until a red light falls before Wall*E’s eyes and he chases it for a couple miles and ends up being right underneath a huge spaceship. This spaceship releases a tiny robot named Eve that is obviously on the search for something and determined to find it on Earth. Once she finds what she’s looking for – remaining plant life – she is taken back onto the ship and sent to show the remaining human beings left on the Axiom. Wall*E is going to miss his friend though and will do anything to stay with her. That includes hitching a ride on her spaceship and being taken for the ride of his life.
Pixar has delivered another film that will have audiences craving the story and loving the main character that is just as cute as anything I’ve seen yet. There’s a problem though and it’s that Wall*E isn’t one of those Pixar films that stands out like all the rest do. Toy Story had all the different toys. A Bug’s Life had tons of talking bugs. Cars had, well, cars. You get the picture, but my question is what does Wall*E have? It’s got one little robot, who is adorable as hell, but that’s it. There’s nothing else that really stands out except for a few other small robots that only have bit parts and show up now and again. Nothing else in way of characters or specific locations really makes a big enough impact to rise above the rest of them.
I want you to realize that I’m not shredding this film because it is awful or something. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Wall*E has a very good story that actually ends up being that of a love tale with a moral for the humans thrown in. You’ll find yourself being swept up in the cuteness that is the relationship of Wall*E and Eve and their course to finally be together. Seeing humans finally realizing how worthless their race has become and wanting to fight back against the robots that have helped cause their current condition will have you cheering them on. All of those things are great and the film is cute and already I want to watch it again. It’s just that it didn’t deliver the laughs and overall strong feelings I’ve gotten from other Pixar films before.
The film is shown in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen format and like all Pixar films, it’s gorgeous. Every little intricate detail to reality that could be created by Pixar is put into its films and Wall*E is no exception. Colors are bright, darker scenes are easily visible, and everything goes off without a hitch.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and the Disney and Pixar combination comes through again with great overall sound from this film. Dialogue really isn’t the biggest concern for most of this film, but all the sound effects are perfect. Big explosions and blast-offs along with intricate sounds of robotic systems and a cockroach are heard around the room through every speaker perfectly. And Wall*E has a great soundtrack that makes for an even greater viewing experience and it is piped through the room just right.
Audio Commentary – Director Andrew Stanton sits by himself for commentary here and it is actually pretty good. The track starts out with Stanton giving an incredible amount of background as to why he chose the particular songs he used in the film. He talks a lot about why the film was made, little hidden things, and how they came about the story of Wall*E from the very beginning. One of the best things about this commentary track is that he never stops talking. Stanton is alone so for a commentary track; there’s a huge need to come up with constant dialogue and he does it perfectly with a lot of great information.
Burn-E – The little fixer-upper robot Burn-E is shown doing all the things he can to make a repair on the ship while other events from the film are going on. This is a cute seven-and-a-half minute short that gives a nice look at something else that was going on elsewhere while we watched Wall*E and Eve deal with their problems.
Presto – Pixar continues with another awesome short and this time it is about a magician named Presto and his “pull from a hat” bunny. It is only five minutes long but incredibly good and overly hilarious.
Deleted Scenes – Nine and a half minutes of stuff left out of the film (two scenes total) and they can be viewed with or without an introduction from director Andrew Stanton. Pretty good stuff and honestly, it should have been left in.
Sneak Peek: Wall*E’s Tour Of The Universe – A fifty-second look at Wall*E’s website.
Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds From The Sound Up – This eighteen minute and forty-three second featurette that looks at all the fun and turmoil that goes into putting sound into an animated film. Wall*E actually was a bit more difficult then most Pixar films because there wasn’t a lot of dialogue to take up time and dead air. With the robots and such moving around; all sounds (beeps, bleeps, boops, and more) needed to be perfect and actually mean something because the audience will think they will. Many of those who worked on the film sit down and talk about how it was putting life into the film through way of sound. I give these people credit because this featurette shows just how much work goes into sound design. The fact that sound genius Jim McDonald is mentioned and shown in this special feature makes it even better.
And never before did I realize how awesome a sound a stretched out Slinky makes when you tap on it.
“The Pixar Story” By Leslie Iwerks – Right here is the bulk of the special features and a welcome, yet unexpected, surprise on this DVD. It is a ninety minute feature that details the creation and evolution of Pixar. There are clips from films and shorts, interviews with head honchos like Alvy Ray Smith and John Lasseter, and just everything that has ever happened to the company of Pixar from birth to present day. Roy Disney and Bob Iger even sit down to give their thoughts on how things came about with Pixar and ended up culminating in a great marriage with Disney. A great marriage now that is; because it was really rocky for a long time there and almost a potential split between the two companies. Bob Iger replacing Michael Eisner as CEO of Disney is pretty much what saved the relationship with Disney and Pixar. Stacy Keach narrates this wonderful documentary and it is a must see for any fan of Disney and Pixar alike.
Additional Deleted Scenes – The second disc of the set has two more deleted scenes with optional commentary from Stanton. These scenes total about thirteen minutes in length and I’m not exactly sure why they weren’t bundled with the first set, but oh well. They are all very good and I don’t see why they couldn’t have left them in the theatrical release or maybe had an extended version for DVD.
Wall*E’s Treasures And Trinkets – This cute little five minute feature sees Wall*E playing with different things like a magnet, hula hoop, baseball and bat, soccer ball, and many other things. It’s funny and something the whole family can enjoy.
BnL Shorts – A collection of shorts (commercials) for the fictional Buy N Large corporation. These are great.
“Lots Of Bots” Storybook – Mary and John from the Axiom narrate this little storybook/game. With your DVD remote, you can build a robot and then go through them in a story mode.
Behind The Scenes – There are six different behind the scenes featurettes including: The Imperfect Lens, Captain’s Log, Notes On A Score, Life Of A Shot, Robo Everything, and Wall*E And Eve. In total they combine for fifty-three minutes of extra stuff that takes you into the music, the shooting, a world of nothing but robots, the mind of the ship’s captain, and how it is to be Eve and Wall*E. The cast and crew all give their thoughts on everything and there truly is a great amount of information and backstage stuff revealed here. All are well worth watching.
Bot Files – This feature gives biography files on all the different robots seen throughout the film.
Digital Copy – The third disc of this set is devoted to the digital copy of the film. If you have a computer, laptop, or whatever you wish that can have films on it; then you too can have your very own digital copy of Wall*E.
Trailers – The Secret Of The Magic Gourd, Tinker Bell And The Lost Treasure, The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition, Up, Disney Blu-Ray, Disney Rewards and Disney Parks..
Considering the successes with all of the other Disney/Pixar releases, I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or not here. I’m going to go with “not disappointed” because it’s not like Wall*E is a bad film or anything; it just doesn’t live up to the expectations that Pixar has created for themselves. It’s extremely cute and has a very nice feel-good story, but let’s face it, it’s no Finding Nemo or Monsters Inc. For some reason, it just has something missing from it that takes the other Pixar releases over the top and makes them so extremely memorable. Still, I’d recommend everyone check it out because it’s still a cute flick and one that you’d end up watching a few times eventually. What you’ll really want to pick up this DVD for is the great amount of special features you get with it and how they all really are. Most of them are linked to the film and are even categorized by those meant for adults and those meant for the whole family so kids can enjoy them too. The best one though is The Pixar Story which would be well worth purchasing if it was on its own separate DVD.
Wall*E may not be the best Pixar film out there, but it’s still cute, fun, and adorably sweet. A little word of advice though and don’t get too frustrated when trying to take the discs out of the DVD case. It is meant to act like some sort of robot and the sleeves slide out to either side holding the discs. Don’t be like me and wonder why it’s stuck and end up pulling the entire sleeve out of the case and working for an hour to put it gently back in place.
Walt Disney Video presents Wall*E Three-Disc Special Edition. Directed by: Andrew Stanton. Starring (voices): Ben Burtt, Kathy Najimy, John Ratzenberger, Elisa Knight, Sigourney Weaver, and more. Written by: Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter. Running time: 98 minutes on 3 discs. Rating: G. Released on DVD: November 18, 2008. Available at Amazon