BluRay/DVD Reviews

WALL-E

By • Nov 23rd, 2008 •

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WALL-E is the new film from PIXAR ANIMATION, directed by Andrew Stanton (FINDING NEMO). It is set in the future, where earth has been overrun by so much consumerism garbage that the planet can no longer hold life-forms. Humans have blasted off into outer-space (they orbit in a luxury spaceship where everything is robot-assisted) Meanwhile, robots (Waste Allocation Load Lifters – Earth class, or WALL-E) work to compress the piles of junk into neat little cubicles. As the centuries pass, earth seems to hold no hope, in fact all the robots break down- except for one. Anthropomorphically, he has taken on a personality, and even makes a best friend. He communicates with the only living thing on earth- a cockroach. I know what you’re thinking. Trust me, I live on top of a deli in New York City. I know cockroaches, and I despise them, but leave it to Pixar to make me think twice before stepping on a critter. It’s as if making us fall in love with a rat in RATATOUILLE wasn’t enough, they had to take it one step further!

So WALL-E skates along, doing his job, but in his curious nature, he collects certain items that attract his attention. He takes them back to his home, which is a treasure trove of all things he finds special and we find ordinary. His most cherished item is a VHS video of HELLO DOLLY. He is fascinated by the singing and the dancing, but most of all by the concept of love. He plays the tape on repeat and longs to one day hold somebody’s hand.

WALL-E’s wish seems to be granted when a super-sleek female robot (that looks exactly like a Macintosh product) named EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) lands on earth to investigate the progress and see if the planet is ready to sustain life. Without giving too much of the film away, I’ll say that Wall-E instantly falls in love with EVE, and through a chain of events, eventually ends up on the space-craft.

WALL-E doesn’t speak. Instead, he makes noises. When EVE arrives they communicate by saying each-other’s names. For the first half hour there is no dialogue at all. Everything that is conveyed is done so through the use of visuals. It is clear that Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton films were used as influence. This part of the film is truly magical and nothing short of brilliant. Once WALL-E boards the spacecraft I find myself slightly disappointed. The film shifts in tone and becomes more conventional. That being said, it also throws another layer onto the film and cleverly blends sci-fi and satire while all the while remaining sweet and fun. My disappointment doesn’t last long, and although I will always prefer the mysterious and character-driven first half hour, I quickly get swept up in the fast-paced action and tongue-in-cheek humor that follows. WALL-E turns out to be a film with a strong message, but like any good film, the message doesn’t distract from the main story – and that is a love story.

The WALL-E 3 disc DVD is a very nice set. The film looks great, although it doesn’t seem to hold the magic it did on the big screen. Both the first and second discs are full of special features. There are deleted scenes, short films, commentaries, featurettes and more. My favorite feature is a behind the scenes look at the sound design by Ben Burtt (who did the sound design for STAR WARS). He created every little noise heard in WALL-E and this mini-documentary really makes me appreciate the film (as well as sound designers) on a whole new level.

The third disc is a digital copy. It is for the people who like to watch movies on their phones and ipods. As I previously mentioned, the film did not affect me on DVD like it did in theaters. Most films don’t. Part of the reason is that my television isn’t that big, and the other, and main reason, is that there are just too many distractions at home. I can’t imagine what it would be like watching it for the first time on an ipod screen while hopping the A train during rush hour! Please, do yourself a favor- if you missed it in theaters, turn off your lights, silence your phone, and give the film an hour and a half’s worth of your attention.

I actually saw this movie three times in theaters. I am not at all embarrassed to say that all three times it had me in tears. For a long time the American adult audience dismissed animated films as being just for children. PIXAR is quickly changing that. In the theater both adults and kids were reacting alike. It doesn’t matter if you are 3 years old or 100 years old; you will find something to like in WALL-E.

Oscar season hasn’t approached yet, but so far this has my pick for the best film of 2008.

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