I don't know how Pixar does it, but every movie it releases resonates with audiences, perhaps because of the studio's ability to bring animated characters to life. Ben Burtt, the man who humanized R2-D2, does an equally fantastic job with WALL·E, giving the computer-generated image a soul. This isn't my favorite Pixar film, but it is one of the studio's better efforts, and it's good family fun.
Can WALL·E challenge the current video champ, Kung Fu Panda? It most certainly can with a fantastic AVC encode delivering the clarity and detail we expect from a direct-to-digital transfer. Colors are dry and subdued throughout the first half of the film, but when WALL·E follows EVE into space and discovers the last remnants of the human race, color comes alive with vivid hues that really pop out from the stark-white backgrounds of the Axiom, the spaceship on which humanity has been living for generations. Frankly, Pixar hasn't made a bad looking film yet, and WALL·E continues this fine tradition.
The reference-quality DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 soundtrack is also what we have come to expect from Pixar. I was really impressed by the sheer silence in which I could hear every subtle sound and the quiet atmosphere of the deserted Earth as the wind rustles over the landscape. Thomas Newman's fantastic score makes up for the lack of any dialog in the first act while we get to know WALL·E. When EVE arrives on Earth, the track delivers some impressive dynamics and surround presence as the landing rockets throw gravel throughout the room. The third act contains most of the dialog, which is delivered with crystal clarity.
WALL·E comes in two different versions on Blu-raya three-disc edition that includes a digital copy, and a two-disc set without. If you don't want the digital copy, save the extra $10! In either case, the supplements are extremely well done and worth the time investment. My favorite of the bunch is "The Pixar Story," a documentary directed by Leslie Iwerks. It delves into the history of the studio, including interviews with some of the founders. In addition, there is a director's commentary, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and the short film "Presto," which was the opening act in WALL·E's theatrical run. Topping things off is a short film called "Burn-E," which follows one of WALL·E's least-likely fans.
I enjoyed WALL·E immensely, especially the main character himself so wonderfully brought to life by Ben Burtt. Not only does it match the reference presentation of Kung Fu Panda, it offers a better story and first-rate supplements. Highly recommended.
Release Date: November 18, 2008
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro 85 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector