Letter E is Still Alive

It’s terrifying how much Wall-E got right. In 2008, social media didn’t yet have a stranglehold on people, and smartphones were only marginally intelligent. Yet Wall-E persisted in inventing an all-too-plausible future where people don’t merely live a sedentary life, they forgot how to walk.

Automation removed the need to stand. A major corporation keeps people in motorized seats, locked to a screen splashing ads in their face. Food is brought to the masses on request. No one even looks at each other, only the screens floating in front of their faces. Consider autonomous driving, food delivery apps, and social networks now in place, the only thing missing today as shown in Wall-E is space life.

Out of sight, out of mind, and that’s what Wall-E smartly seizes on

Pixar’s style is arguably more evident here than in their other works. Maybe Up for its opening montage, but Wall-E works without dialog. The first act, short of names being shared, doesn’t require speech. Wall-E happily works, falls in love with another robot, EVE, enters a (one-sided) relationship, all while the story fills in gaps visually. Earth is brown, cities clustered together in trash heaps, and a corporate logo dons most of the discarded garbage. A Buy ‘n Large store – what’s left of it – stretches for a mile. Life existed here, a consumer-driven culture too. This is the remnant.

Where Pixar’s films often speak to kids about working together, Wall-E chooses instead to put a generation on notice. It’s ironic. After seeing Wall-E, kids will rip open cardboard packaging to maul the well-marketed plastic figure inside, discarding the box. Out of sight, out of mind, and that’s what Wall-E smartly seizes on. Sent into space (for love of course), the expressive robot finds a humanity distanced from their ancestry. A plant is an alien concept. The comfort we seek in an exchange for ever greater disaster happens each time a garbage bag hits the bottom of a can.

Certain segments in Wall-E read preachy, if not wrong. Companies do what they can to make us fatter and lazier, because their products are too alluring to resist. Thus, this future vision, discovered by a delightfully endearing ‘bot who seeks romance as much as his programming allows. Not cheering for Wall-E means turning off the empathy, humor, and wonder in our brains. Unlike the future residents of Buy ‘n Large’s space cruise, Wall-E still holds on to the magic that exists around him, not only that which his corporate programmers told him to.

Video

Don’t go into Wall-E’s 4K release expecting a significant detail jump. The now 12-year old textures can’t show much beyond what the Blu-ray did. That doesn’t mean definition lacks; it’s gorgeous. The rust on Earth is spectacular. Near the end, as people turn into rounded up cattle, each character is visible – hundreds of them. Sharpness is high enough to allow that to happen, including minor aliasing likely part of the source animation.

Although balancing two restrictive palettes (one brown, one blue), certain elements successfully break out. Lighting billboards create a space-faring interior. Red onesies worn by people gain energy, while the trip through space is truly stunning as clouds and nebula appear.

As per usual, the key change is the HDR pass. Sunlight filters through the smoggy Earth sky, and once into space, star clusters glisten and flicker. Any light source reaches a suitable peak, and if backed by the intensely deep shadows, the depth only grows further.

Audio

No, Wall-E’s LFE output isn’t as powerful as it likely should be. This is a Disney Atmos track, and that’s their signature. Still, a few blasts stick out. When ships drop to Earth from space, thrusters leave their mark with a solid rumble. An escape pod launches with a pleasing thud too.

Small touches add space to the original 5.1 mix. Wind storms push debris all over, above, behind, and to the sides. Robots move about, and the space port’s busy streets send flying chairs whipping by. Rain will plop into the overheads, if to limited effect; it’s mixed organically as to not standout. Overall fair, but if graded by the Disney Atmos curve, a fine effort.

Extras

Nothing new. Disney includes the two-disc Blu-ray edition inside. The first disc features two short films. On disc 2, the highlight is the 90-minute documentary, The Pixar Story. It’s still great, and worth rewatching. Six featurettes come together to form an hour long behind-the-scenes piece, far more detailed than new releases get now. Set fly throughs make for an interesting technical snippet, with deleted scenes following. The disc hosts games and other small trinkets if the kids need something to do.

Wall-E
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Wall-E is eerily prophetic over a decade later, plus wonderfully entertaining without feeling overly preachy.

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User Review
2 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 41 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: