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Wall-E, the latest from Pixar, the studio with the golden touch, is set some time in the future, long after wanton waste and rampant consumerism have rendered the good planet Earth uninhabitable. Humans have long since vacated and all that remain are gigantic mounds of trash and polluted rivers... and Wall-E, a tiny trash compacting robot and his cockroach buddy, Hal, named as an homage to rogue 2001 robot, Hal 9000.

Wall-E was built by the Buy n Large Corporation (although meant to loosely mimic any giant generic retail supercenter, Wal-Mart was clearly in the crosshairs) to clean up the piles and piles of garbage left behind by its companies. At the first sign of sunlight each day, Wall-E retracts his solar panels, starts his computer (in a nod to Mac users, he reboots to the familiar Mac start-up chime thanks Steve!) and rolls out for another monotonous day of stacking trash cubes. While faithfully sifting through the garbage, Wall-E occasionally lands on knickknacks to covet. He's interested in the shape of a light bulb, a spork confuses him, and a diamond ring is not as valuable as the box it comes in. He likes the way the lid snaps shut. Wall-E keeps his worldly possessions in an abandoned transport truck he calls home.

Wall-eBut Wall-E's most valuable possession is a beat up VHS copy of the 1969 musical Hello, Dolly! He's fallen in love with the film, and it's his reaction to the movie that makes us fall in love with him. At the end of a long hard day of compacting trash, Wall-E settles in front of his television and watches with large mournful eyes the lovers sing and dance... and hold hands. From watching the characters in the film, he learns that holding hands is the way humans show affection. And he spends the entire film hoping to hold hands with someone.

He's a dependable little robot, and he's resourceful and persistent. But most of all he's just lonely. We see so much emotion in his mechanical movements. Despite the fact that he's dirty, dented and not very human-like, credit the animators for finding a way to make the little bugger so down right cute. Failure here would spell disaster for the entire film. Through a combination of whirs, beeps and buzzes, sound designer Ben Burtt, (who also voiced Star Wars robot R2D2), gives life to Wall-E and allows us to infer our own human emotional beliefs onto him. We know when he's sad, we can tell when he's scared and we sense his loneliness... even though he can hardly utter a single word. But most of all, we see the joy in his little binocular-like eyes when they focus on EVE, a sleek, modern droid dropped on Earth by the spaceship AXIOM to search for plant life. Since EVE is quick to blast anything that moves, Wall-E's humorous attempt at courtship takes a while to develop... but eventually begins to bear fruit. We see Wall-E look at his own hand then follow with a longing glance at EVE's. We know he wants to hold her hand, so we transfer our own human courage to help him with his plight.

While proudly showing EVE his worldly possessions, they come across a tiny green seedling which EVE immediately snaps up before shutting herself down to wait for the spaceship to return and pick her up. Wall-E can't fathom the thought of losing her, so he hitches a ride into space and eventually finds himself aboard the AXIOM where he learns that humans have been hanging out for the last 700 years. They hope to find a planet that can once again support life. But after centuries of leisurely living and mass consumption of sodas and pizza, the humans have become curiously walrus-like - big and rotund, with very little bone mass left. When the captain of the spaceship eventually recognizes the importance of the little green sprig, the proceedings hop into action/adventure mode giving Wall-E and EVE a chance to recognize their full potential.

Ironically, it's a bit difficult to describe Wall-E's plot in so few words, especially since the film itself contains so few. Writer/director Andrew Stanton has created a near perfect movie that works in spite of its lack of dialogue. Faced with the challenge of telling a story using only body language and facial gestures, the animators succeed in a big way... even if expressions come from tread feet and clanky metal claws. The characters here say far more than even those in the wordiest of dialogue-fests and the film is busting at the seams with heart and compassion. There are even numerous nods to classic sci-fi that only the grown ups will get. Wall-E is funny, it's sad, it's even scary and a bit bleak at times, but as a love letter to science fiction films of old and as a cautionary tale with an environmental message that doesn't hit you over the head with what it wants to say, Pixar has left us with not only its greatest piece of work to date, but also the best film so far this year... by any studio.


Component Grades
Movie
 
DVD
5 Stars
 
5 Stars
     
DVD Experience
5 Stars

DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.40:1

Subtitles: English SDH

Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; English: DTS 5.1 Surround; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; director's commentary; Cine-Explore; Geek Track; Easter Eggs; additional featurettes.

* Commentary - feature-length Audio Commentary with director Andrew Stanton.
* Two Animated Shorts:
o Presto (5:16)
o BURN-E (7:35)
* Trailer (2:32)
* Alternate Cut - Extended Director's Cut of 1408 (112:00)
* Deleted Scenes
o "Garbage Airlock"
o "Dumped"
o Secret Files" (3:21)
o "Docking" (5:58)
* Featurettes
o "Animation Sound Design: Building Worlds from the Sound Up" (18:43)
o Sneak Peek of "Wall-E's Tour of the Universe" (0:49)
o The Pixar Story (88:28)
o "The Imperfect Lens: Creating the Look of WALL-E" (14:32)
o "Captain's Log: The Evolution of Humans" (7:58)
o "Notes on a Score" (10:42)
o "Life of a Shot: Deconstructing the Pixar Process" (5:09)
o "Robo-Everything" (5:46)
o "Buy 'n Large" Shorts (five clips, 8:50 total)
o "WALL-E's Treasures and Trinkets" (4:55)
o Lots of Bots" Read-Along Storybook

Number of discs: - 3- Keepcase Packaging

{pgomakase}

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