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Wall-E

Wall-E

Released: June 27, 2008

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WALL-E>

WALL-E
Walt Disney Records (D000174302)

Released: June 24, 2008

Format: CD (62 min)


Song Credits

"DOWN TO EARTH"
PRODUCED BY PETER GABRIEL
L.A. SESSIONS PRODUCED BY THOMAS NEWMAN
RECORDED BY RICHARD CHAPPELL
MIXED BY TCHAD BLAKE


"PUT ON YOUR SUNDAY CLOTHES"
"IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT"
WRITTEN BY JERRY HERMAN
COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
[[2]]


"DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY"
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY BOBBY McFERRIN
PRODUCED BY LINDA GOLDSTEIN
COURTESY OF ORIGINAL ARTISTS


"LA VIE EN ROSE"
WRITTEN BY LOUIGUY, EDITH PIAF AND MACK DAVID
PERFORMED BY LOUIS ARMSTRONG
COURTESY OF THE VERVE MUSIC GROUP
UNDER LICENSE FROM UNIVERSAL MUSIC ENTERPRISES


"ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA"
WRITTEN BY RICHARD STRAUS


"BNL JINGLE"
MUSIC BY THOMAS NEWMAN
LYRICS BY BILL BERNSTEIN

Movie Review: WALL-E (3-disc Special Edition DVD)

by Dan Goldwasser
on November 19th, 2008
[4.5 / 5] printable

It seems like Pixar Animation Studios can do no wrong. Even their weakest film, Cars was above and beyond most of the stuff being released by Hollywood today. Their latest film, WALL-E is no exception. Taking place in the future, Earth is now run by the Big-N-Large Corporation. Commercialism is at the apex of being. But, pollution and garbage are threatening the ability to live on the planet. So, the corporation decides to pack all the humans into spaceships, and leave for a 5-year "space cruise", while robots clean up the mess. 700-years later, they're still in space, and only one robot is still working on Earth: WALL-E. WALL-E has developed a bit of a personality over the past seven centuries, and is exceptionally curious about the knickknacks he finds while cleaning out the piles of junk. One of the items is an old VHS tape of Hello, Dolly which WALL-E watches over-and-over, and learns from. Not only does he learn about dancing, but he also learns about emotion - which is expressed by holding hands.

When a spacecraft arrives and drops off EVE, a sleek magnetically powered robot, WALL-E is smitten - and tries to connect with her. She slowly warms up to his advances, and just when things seem like they're going well, her mission directive kicks in when she finds a small plant that WALL-E had found. Seemingly shut-down, WALL-E still tries to carry on a relationship with EVE, but things seem hopeless. Just when he gives up, and tries to return to his old routine, the ship arrives to take EVE back - but WALL-E manages to hitch a ride on the ship, which takes him back to the Axiom - one of the human ships that were waiting out in space all this time. And now WALL-E's adventure truly begins, as he encounters all manner of robots and humans on the ship, and his purpose starts to take shape, and his actions might affect the very course of mankind.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, WALL-E is about 85% pantomime. WALL-E doesn't really speak - so for the first half of the film, everything is conveyed and communicated visually. It's an animators dream, and one that the geniuses at Pixar do so very well. Where the film starts to lose a bit of ground is with the humans, who - after 700 years in Zero Gravity - have supposedly lost all their bone structure and have atrophied muscles. There are only three human characters that are followed - the captain (voiced by Jeff Garlin), John (John Ratzenberger) and Mary (Kathy Najimy). At no point do we care about the latter two; they're just in a few random scenes to point at things. The captain has a tad bit more of an emotional arc, as he learns all about Earth and even goes against the mutinous autopilot (voiced by... Macintalk. Yes, really). But it seems as though all of the emotional story work went into the robots, which are admittedly more interesting. Sigourney Weaver even voices the ship's computer, but doesn't get to do much beyond stating commands and status lines (ironically, like her character in Galaxy Quest). Fred Willard plays a live-action role as the Big-N-Large CEO, which was weird to see in a Pixar movie. It was like that ending to Happy Feet where suddenly all these live-action humans showed up. Slightly off putting. And the ending of the film - without giving it away - is a bit of a head-scratcher, at least for the humans and what it means for the future of humanity. But that aside, it's still a movie with heart, and the fact that those Pixar geniuses make you feel emotion for a computer animated robot, give them the Oscar. (You know it's coming anyways!) That WALL-E looks like "Johnny-Five" from Short Circuit and E.T. is merely coincidence, but there are physical characteristics to his design that made feel immediately attuned and comfortable with him. Just part of the Pixar mastery, I guess.

Wall-E comes to home video in numerous flavors: a widescreen single-disc edition, a three-disc special edition (with Digital Copy), a two-disc Blu-ray release, and a three-disc Blu-ray release (with Digital Copy).  This review is focused on the three-disc Special Edition DVD release.

Presented in 16x9 anamorphic widescreen, and letterboxed at 2.39:1, the image on Wall-E is a direct-digital transfer, and looks about as good as one can hope for from a DVD.  I'm sure the Blu-ray is even better, but there is a lot to be impressed with, although at times there is minor compression artifacting. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, and Dolby Digital 2.0.  A title card explains that the 2.0 mix is included for traditional television sets, and both tracks are in English.  It's a fully immersive sound mix, one that is sure to garner plenty of awards this year. Ben Burtt's excellent sound design and Thomas Newman's score drive the film for the first half, and then when the humans show up, dialogue is rendered cleanly and clearly. It's an excellent mix.

On the first disc, we're treated to a solo commentary track by director Andrew Stanton. It's a highly informative and well thought-out track, which covers pretty much every aspect of the film. Story development, design challenges, audio choices (including the variety of songs that were considered), voice casting, sound design, music, and more are all discussed. It's a great commentary track that is well worth listening to.

Two animated short films are included.  "Presto" (5-minutes) was shown in front of Wall-E theatrically, and is an adorable short that pertains to a hungry rabbit and a magician's magic top hat.  A new short, "Burn-E" (7.5-minutes) shows the travails of a repair robot whose job keeps getting affected by the events that take place in Wall-E.  It's amusing to see things from a different perspective.  Two deleted scenes are presented with optional introductions/conclusions by Stanton explaining why they were cut. "Garbage Airlock" (7-minutes) and "Dumped" (2.5-minutes) are actually in the film, so these are really alternate versions, fully animated and near-final rendered. 

For a film that is dialogue-free for the first half, it's really nice to see a featurette like "Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from the Sound Up" (18.5-minutes).  The focus is, logically, on Sound Designer Ben Burtt and his amazing efforts in creating an entire world through sound.  Finally, a "Sneak Peek: Wall-E's Tour of the Universe" trailer is presented, to promote the new website tied into the film.

The second disc contains the bulk of the special features.  Broken into two sections ("Humans" for film fans, and "Robots" for families), the good stuff is really found in "Humans".  In "Behind the Scenes" we get six featurettes. "The Imperfect Lens: Creating the Look of Wall-E" (14.5-minutes) takes a look at the Pixar team's efforts to make the film look as realistic (but not photo real) as possible, including consultations with Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, and visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren.  It goes a long way in explaining why the film has the unique look that it has.  "Life of a Shot: Deconstructing the Pixar Process" (5-minutes) explores all the different people and their talents that go into making a sequence work.  "Captain's Log: The Evolution of Humans" (8-minutes) discusses the humans in the film, and how they evolved from the original conception as gelatinous aliens, through to the overweight humans they ended up being. "Robo-Everything" (6-minutes) takes a look at how the robots were designed.  "Notes on a Score" (10.5-minutes) is a great look at the work that composer Thomas Newman had to do to help aid the storytelling in a film that had almost no dialogue for the first half.  Scoring session footage, as well as smaller instrumental sessions are shown, and Newman and Stanton explain their collaborative process that started back on Finding Nemo.  "Wall-E and Eve" (7-minutes) discusses the central relationship in the film between the two robots, including the challenges in creating Wall-E in a physically realistic fashion.

Five "BNL Shorts" (9-minutes) are included here in their full uncut versions (they are seen occasionally on monitors throughout the film), and helps elaborate on the back-story about the large corporation that took over Earth, ultimately leading to "Operation Cleanup".   Two more deleted scenes are included, with optional introductions/conclusions by Stanton.  Shown in animated storyboard format, "Secret Files" (3-minutes) and "Docking" (6-minutes) flesh out a bit about the back-story, but ultimately changes were made that rendered the scenes unnecessary.  But the real treat to this disc is the inclusion of the 88-minute long documentary, "The Pixar Story", directed by Leslie Iwerks.  This comprehensive look at the film studio from its early days as the Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Project through to Cars (with a brief mention of Ratatouille) is mandatory viewing. I only wish that it had been updated a bit for the Wall-E release, but there was supposedly an update ("The Pixar Story Continues", hosted by Richard Roeper), and it's not included on the disc - perhaps on the next Pixar home video release?

"Robots" only has three family-related features.  The first one, "Wall-E's Treasures & Trinkets" is a compilation of all of the little short vignettes that were released online prior to the film's theatrical run, showcasing Wall-E interacting with various objects (a Hula-Hoop, a vacuum, a magnet, a fire extinguisher, etc.) all with hilarious consequences.  "Bot Files" is a series of profiles that explain a little bit about each of the robots that appear in the film (even briefly), along with a 360-degree spin. Finally, "Lots of Bots" is an interactive "storybook" which can be played through normally (3.5-minutes) with narration by Kathy Najimy, or in a "play through" mode, with puzzles and challenges that help progress the storyline (narrated by John Ratzenberger).

No trailers or galleries are included, although they are supposedly included on the Blu-ray version of the film.  Finally the third disc includes a Digital Copy of the movie, for transfer to your iPod or other mobile device. Wall-E shows that Pixar is the undisputed master of computer animation. As flawed as the second half of the film is, it's still a cut above most modern films, let alone animated ones.  With a nice eco-friendly message, great DVD transfer and sound, and solid bulk of extras, Wall-E is a must-have release.

Movie Review: WALL-E

by Dan Goldwasser
on June 27th, 2008
[4 / 5] printable

It seems like Pixar Animation Studios can do no wrong. Even their weakest film, Cars was above and beyond most of the stuff being released by Hollywood today. Their latest film, WALL-E is no exception. Taking place in the future, Earth is now run by the Big-N-Large Corportion. Commercialism is at the apex of being. But, pollution and garbage are threatening the ability to live on the planet. So, the corporation decides to pack all the humans into spaceships, and leave for a 5-year "space cruise", while robots clean up the mess. 700-years later, they're still in space, and only one robot is still working on Earth: WALL-E. WALL-E has developed a bit of a personality over the past seven centuries, and is exceptionally curious about the knickknacks he finds while cleaning out the piles of junk. One of the items is an old VHS tape of Hello, Dolly which WALL-E watches over-and-over, and learns from. Not only does he learn about dancing, but he also learns about emotion - which is expressed by holding hands.

When a spacecraft arrives and drops off EVE, a sleek magnetically powered robot, WALL-E is smitten - and tries to connect with her. She slowly warms up to his advances, and just when things seem like they're going well, her mission directive kicks in when she finds a small plant that WALL-E had found. Seemingly shut-down, WALL-E still tries to carry on a relationship with EVE, but things seem hopeless. Just when he gives up, and tries to return to his old routine, the ship arrives to take EVE back - but WALL-E manages to hitch a ride on the ship, which takes him back to the Axiom - one of the human ships that were waiting out in space all this time. And now WALL-E's adventure truly begins, as he encounters all manner of robots and humans on the ship, and his purpose starts to take shape, and his actions might affect the very course of mankind.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, WALL-E is about 85% pantomime. WALL-E doesn't really speak - so for the first half of the film, everything is conveyed and communicated visually. It's an animators dream, and one that the geniuses at Pixar do so very well. Where the film starts to lose a bit of ground is with the humans, who - after 700 years in Zero Gravity - have supposedly lost all their bone structure and have atrophied muscles. There are only three human characters that are followed - the captain (voiced by Jeff Garlin), John (John Ratzenberger) and Mary (Kathy Najimy). At no point do we care about the latter two; they're just in a few random scenes to point at things. The captain has a tad bit more of an emotional arc, as he learns all about Earth and even goes against the mutinous autopilot (voiced by... Macintalk. Yes, really). But it seems as though all of the emotional story work went into the robots, which are admittedly more interesting. Sigourney Weaver even voices the ship's computer, but doesn't get to do much beyond stating commands and status lines (ironically, like her character in Galaxy Quest). Fred Willard plays a live-action role as the Big-N-Large CEO, which was weird to see in a Pixar movie. It was like that ending to Happy Feet where suddenly all these live-action humans showed up. Slightly off putting. And the ending of the film - without giving it away - is a bit of a head-scratcher, at least for the humans and what it means for the future of humanity. But that aside, it's still a movie with heart, and the fact that those Pixar geniuses make you feel emotion for a computer animated robot, give them the Oscar. (You know it's coming anyways!) That WALL-E looks like "Johnny-Five" from Short Circuit and E.T. is merely coincidence, but there are physical characteristics to his design that made feel immediately attuned and comfortable with him. Just part of the Pixar mastery, I guess.

The look of the film is different than other Pixar films - they did a great job recreating the look that the old 70mm Panavision cameras gave, with chromatic aberration, lens distortion, etc. It's a very realistic feeling that sucks you right into the film. Ben Burtt did the sound design, and also came up with all of the sounds for the robots - including voicing WALL-E and a few other bots. It's a phenomenal job, and he should stick to sound effects work instead of editing film. Adding to the mood of the film is Thomas Newman's score, which has the typical quirkiness of some of his other scores, but also a very large sci-fi score with Lydian motifs, and plenty of action. The Hello, Dolly songs play an important role, as well as a new song that Newman co-wrote with Peter Gabriel, "Down to Earth", which Gabriel performs on the end credits.

There's an environmental message in the film, but at times it seems like an afterthought even though it's also implied that it's part of the main plot, aside from the WALL-E/EVE relationship. As much as I enjoyed the film when I saw it, the more I thought about it afterwards, the more questions started popping up. I'll still happily recommend WALL-E; it's a masterpiece of animation and anthropomorphism, but I don't know how well it would hold up on a second viewing.



Trailer Music

The trailers for Wall-E featured music by Michael Kamen, Thomas Newman, Etta James, Two Steps From Hell, Immediate Music, Elmer Bernstein, James Horner, Non-Stop Music, and X-Ray Dog.

View the complete list of trailer music...

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