WALL-E appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. While I’m not sure I’d call this a literally flawless Dolby Vision presentation, it comes close.
At all times, sharpness remained immaculate. I saw virtually no signs of softness during this concise presentation. Even the widest shots remained tight and well-defined.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and I also detected no signs of edge haloes. As for source flaws, you’ll find none in this clean image.
During the shots on Earth, a dirty brown palette dominated. Some other hues emerged in the first act, but the film reserved its brighter tones for its time on the Axiom.
I thought the colors were always full and dynamic, as the movie replicated the tones well. HDR added power and range to the hues.
Blacks seemed firm and dark, while shadows presented good clarity and delineation. HDR brought impact and strength to whites and contrast. This was a splendid transfer that satisfied.
And the flick sounded good, too! Ben Burtt may be the best sound designer in the business, so he brought a great sense of life to WALL-E’s Dolby Atmos track. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie boasted an excellent sense of place and movement at all times.
We found plenty of activity around the spectrum, and with its space setting, many elements zipped about the room. The surrounds kicked in with a lot of unique information and brought nice details to the table. Too much of the movie remained subtle for this to be a truly butt-kicking mix, but it did all the little things right to make it work.
Audio quality was solid. Speech appeared natural and concise, with no edginess or other concerns.
Music seemed lively and dynamic, and effects followed suit. Those elements sounded full and accurate.
The film boasted nice low-end response to flesh out the spectrum. I found a lot to like about this very good soundtrack.
How does the Criterion 4K UHD compare to the original 2011 Blu-ray? The 4K comes with a Dolby Atmos track that adds a little breadth and kick to an already-excellent 5.1 mix.
Though WALL-E was finished as a 2K product, the Dolby Vision 4K still offers the better experience, as it renders superior colors, delineation and blacks. The fact the movie only exists as a 2K source limits the improvements some, but I still think the 4K becomes a visibly stronger product.
Note that Disney already put out a 4K UHD version of WALL-E back in 2020. I never saw that one, but from what I understand, the Criterion 4K uses the same scan of the film.
However, this doesn’t mean one should expect the two to look identical, as the Criterion 4K brings Dolby Vision to the table. For those with Dolby Vision-equipped sets, that likely makes the Criterion the preferred rendition.
The Criterion set mixes old and new extras, and it brings back two pre-existing audio commentaries. For the first, we hear from director Andrew Stanton as he offers a running, screen-specific piece that looks at the use of material from Hello, Dolly!, storytelling and the emphasis on silent film material, the flick’s concept and development, influences, character and visual design, voice and audio design, cast and performances, research, music, and a mix of other production subjects.
Stanton gives us an excellent commentary here. He digs into the flick with gusto and provides a really rich, insightful take on the movie. Stanton aptly illustrates the choices made for WALL-E and provides a great deal of context. This is a thoughtful, informative and very enjoyable chat.
Billed as a “Geek Track” on the old Blu-ray, the second commentary features character team supervisor Bill Wise, co-producer Lindsey Collins, story artist Derek Thompson, and directing animator Angus MacLane. They sit together for a running, screen-specific commentary that looks at a mix of movie trivia, tech notes and observations.
The “Geek Track” lives up to its title, as it offers a lot of nerdy thoughts about film elements. That means many references to other sci-fi flicks as well as debates about the accuracy of WALL-E choices. Because of this, we don’t get a ton of info about the movie’s creation, but the participants keep things light and fun enough to ensure that we enjoy the chat.
Created in 2007, we get a documentary entitled The Pixar Story. During the one-hour, 28-minute, 31-second show, we find notes from Stanton, filmmakers John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, George Lucas, Pete Docter, and Lee Unkrich, animators Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Glen Keane, and Jim Murphy, producer Don Hahn, Pixar co-founder Alvy Ray Smith, Pixar president Ed Catmull, former NYIT president Alexander Schure, Pixar VP of Technology Rob Cook, Pixar animation scientist Eben Ostby, Pixar supervising technical director William Reeves, Pixar senior scientist Loren Carpenter, Pixar technical director Tom Porter, ILM visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren, Pixar/Apple Computers CEO Steve Jobs, computer scientist Alan Kay, former Lasseter assistant/modeling and shading manager Deirdre Warin, former Walt Disney Company chairman Peter Schneider, Pixar technical director Tom Porter, former Pixar story supervisor Joe Ranft, former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner, former Walt Disney Animation president Thomas Schumacher, Walt Disney Company director emeritus and consultant Roy E. Disney, film historian Leonard Maltin, former Robertson Stephens Investment Bank CEO Mike McCaffrey, Pixar producer Darla K. Anderson, Pixar University professor Randy Nelson, Lasseter’s wife Nancy, composer Randy Newman, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, Walt Disney’s daughter Diane, story artist/writer Joe Grant, and actors Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Billy Crystal.
The program looks at how many future Pixar and Disney filmmakers came together at school in the 1970s as well as Lasseter’s time at Disney. From there we go through the origins/development of computer technology in movies, Lasseter’s move to Lucasfilm and the roots of Pixar.
The rest of the program looks at the studio’s early shorts and shift to feature films with Toy Story, and their subsequent success and achievements.
The documentary provides a great look at Pixar. It offers a detailed look at the studio’s development and doesn’t shy away from potentially controversial areas.
That means it never comes across like a happy-happy sanitized take on matters. The show always proves informative and interesting as it takes us through the studio’s history.
After four trailers, the remaining Disc One materials are new to the Criterion release. Where It Began goes for 23 minutes, 34 seconds and offers more notes from Stanton.
The director discusses his education in films, his early days at Pixar, influences and inspirations. As with his commentary, Stanton proves informative and engaging in this look at various factors that impacted the development of WALL-E.
Anatomy of a Scene spans 16 minutes, 35 seconds and delivers more comments from Stanton. Here he looks at “The Plant”.
This allows Stanton to dig into the sequence in depth and also reveal a lot of his approach to filmmaking. Stanton again delivers a fine take on his work.
Finally, A Visit to the Pixar Living Archive fills 27 minutes, 17 seconds and allows Stanton to take us on a tour. He shows us various pieces related to WALL-E in this vivid look at these materials and aspect of the movie’s creation.
With that we head to Disc Two and a slew of extras under “Process”. The Art of the Color Script runs 11 minutes, 23 seconds and features Stanton and production designer Ralph Eggleston.
“Art” covers what color scripts are, their relationship and the use of color scripts in WALL-E. This becomes an involving view of the topic.
Directing Animation goes for 18 minutes, 50 seconds and provides a collection of “behind the scenes” shots taken from various production meetings. We get a nice view of the interactive creative processes.
Next comes The Imperfect Lens: Creating the Look of WALL-E, which goes for 14 minutes, 34 seconds and provides remarks from Stanton, Morris, Collins, Eggleston, director of photography: camera Jeremy Lasky, director of photography: lighting Danielle Feinberg, visual consultants Roger Deakins and Dennis Muren, supervising technical director Nigel Hardwidge, technical pipeline supervisor John Warren, technical development lead Lucas Ives, post-animation camera artist Craig Good, and effects supervisor David MacCarthy.
The program looks at computer camerawork, film influences and other aspects of the visual design. The thoughts about how to use the camera in the CG domain prove especially valuable, and this piece digs into its topic well.
Building Worlds from the Sound Up lasts 18 minutes, 43 seconds. In it, we hear from Stanton, sound and character voice designer Ben Burtt, film editor Stephen Schaffer, producer Jim Morris, co-producer Lindsey Collins, Disney sound designer Jimmy MacDonald, and directing animator Angus MacLane.
As implied by the title, “Worlds” looks at the history of audio in animated films, and Burtt provides some insights into his work on WALL-E. We find some fun details in this informative piece.
After this, Trash Planet spans four minutes, 23 seconds and features Stanton, Eggleston, set shading lead Chris Burrows, shading artist Chris Bernardi, set modeling lead Kristifir Klein, set dressing lead/layout artist Derek Williams, supervising technical director Nigel Hardwidge, effects supervisor David MacCarthy, and sets art director Tony Christov.
The featurette looks at the future Earth setting and its depiction in the film. It lacks great insights but it comes with a few good moments.
WALL-E’s Truck Tour fills three minutes, 42 seconds with notes from Stanton, Eggleston, Klein, Feinberg, Christov and production artist Jennifer Chang. They look at a WALL-E “set” in this decent little clip.
From here we shift to the seven-minute, two-second WALL-E and EVE. It includes remarks from Stanton, Shuster, Wise, Navone, Lee, MacLane, Bickerstaff, Warren, story supervisor Jim Reardon, supervising animator Alan Barillaro, supervising animator Steve Hunter, and character articulation artist Sajan Skaria.
This one follows the same approach as the prior featurette except it concentrates on the lead characters. It continues to educate and entertain.
For a look at the non-robotic characters, we go to Captain’s Log: The Evolution of Humans. In this seven-minute, 59-second piece, we hear from Stanton, MacLane, Morris, Eggleston, Hardwidge, Burtt, Reardon, story artist Derek Thompson, character supervisor Bill Wise, character art director Jason Deamer, and character modeling lead Jason Bickerstaff.
We see the early inclination to use gelatinous aliens instead of humans and the changes that came to the story. We got a hint of this early plan in the deleted scenes, but “Evolution” fleshes out the issue in a compelling manner.
Go Live occupies three minutes, 23 seconds and brings remarks from Stanton, Lasky, Collins, Warren, and actor Fred Willard. We get a few thoughts about the movie’s use of live-action footage in this useful reel.
From there we move to Notes on a Score. The 10-minute, 42-second piece offers comments from Stanton, Schaffer, Collins, Morris, composer Thomas Newman, and music editor Bill Bernstein.
As expected, “Notes” looks at the movie’s music. As usual, the featurette offers a tight, incisive take on its topic, so it merits your time.
Next comes the five-minute, nine-second Life of a Shot: Deconstructing the Pixar Process. It features Stanton, Morris, Eggleston, Burtt, MacLane, Bickerstaff, assistant to the director Marguerite Enright, art coordinator Zoë Boxer, story artist Peter Sohn, layout artist Bob Whitehill, animators Wendell Lee and Bret Parker, set shading lead Chris Burrows, production artist Jennifer Chang, set dressing leads/layout artists Derek Williams and Alison Leaf, digital painter Japeth Pieper, technical lighting lead Erik Smitt, effects sequence lead Chris Chapman, production artist Jay Shuster, character articulation artist Austin Lee, character shading artist Brandon Onstott, and render technical director Mark VandeWettering.
The short piece escorts us through some short – and seemingly simple – shots. Essentially it acts to teach us that it takes a village to make an animated film. The focus remains superficial, but it’s still neat to see how many hands touch each small bit.
Robo-Everything lasts five minutes, 46 seconds as it provides info from Stanton, Deamer, MacLane, Bickerstaff, Wise, Shuster, and animators Victor Navone and Amber Martorelli.
This program looks at all the work put into the creation of the movie’s secondary droids. Some nice details emerge in this fun featurette.
Four Deleted Scenes fill a total of 23 minutes, six seconds. We can see “Garbage Airlock”, “Dumped”, “Secret Files” and “Docking.
In “Airlock”, WALL-E rescues EVE, while “Dumped” shows a romantic moment between the robots. “Files” shows an alternate piece of exposition related to the Axiom’s mission, while “Docking” depicts WALL-E’s arrival at the ship.
The first two are best – and feature virtually finished animation, something rarely observed in deleted scenes for cartoons. The other two are interesting as well but got the boot earlier in the process, so they appear only as storyreels.
We can watch these with introductions from Stanton. He gives us background about the scenes and also lets us know why they got the boot.
As usual, Stanton gives us good info. (Note that the running times listed include Stanton’s intros.)
“Process” concludes with Geek-O-Rama, a four-minute, 48-second piece that brings comments from Wise, Smitt, MacLane, Thompson, Bickerstaff, Hunter, Collins, Stanton and animators Austin Madison and Michal Makarewicz.
We get a look at ways the staff’s nerdiness impacted the production. It brings a brisk and fun overview.
“Prophecies” comes with two components, and WALL-E A to Z goes for 12 minutes, 49 seconds. It involves Stanton and Reardon.
From the POV of 2022, they look at ways the film pointed toward the future as well as other movie notes. We find some compelling thoughts here.
Five BnL Shorts go for a total of eight minutes, 49 seconds. These let us get a closer look at the commercials occasionally seen in the movie – and some that I don’t think appear at all. Some of these don’t get much airing in the final flick, so it’s cool to view them in full.
Now we move to “Robots”, where Meet the Bots lasts eight minutes, 47 seconds. This lets us learn facts related to WALL-E, EVE and 26 of the flick’s other robots.
We get a little bit of text and narration to tell us about the characters. I like this component a lot, especially since it allows us to see all the thought that went into some little-used droids.
WALL-E’s Treasures and Trinkets runs four minutes, 55 seconds as it shows WALL-E and pals as they play around with objects like soccer balls and Hula Hoops. The short offers modest entertainment, but it’s reasonably fun.
“Robots” finishes with a Read-Along Storybook. Entitled “Lots of Bots”, this three-minute, eight-second piece takes a rhyming, Dr. Seuss tone and offers a cute affair, albeit one best for the kiddies.
Two Short Films ensue. Including an introduction, A Story goes for six minutes, 48 seconds and depicts a student effort Stanton made in 1987.
The animated Story offers a snarky and cynical take on kiddie cartoons. It holds up pretty well, and Stanton’s intro adds insights.
In addition, BURN-E (7:35) focuses on a repair droid and shows what he was up to during the Axiom-based drama of WALL-E. It’s a cute look at a different part of the story, but it doesn’t really go anywhere terribly interesting.
Note that we can also watch a version of BURN-E that runs storyboards alongside the film. The art appears in the upper left corner.
The package concludes with a booklet. It mixes credits, an essay from author Sam Wasson and various pieces of art such as samples from Stanton’s sketchbooks. It finishes matters on a high note.
Does the Criterion set lose anything from the original Blu-ray? It drops Presto, a short than ran prior to theatrical screenings of WALL-E as well as “3D Set Fly-Throughs”, some games, and extensive still galleries.
Because of their long roster of continued excellence, a merely “pretty good” Pixar flick can be a disappointment, and that’s the category into which WALL-E falls. The film provides a charming, enjoyable experience, but it's not one that matches with the studio’s best work. The 4K UHD brings us excellent picture and audio as well as a solid selection of supplements. This will never be one of my favorite Pixar efforts, but it’s a strong release.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of WALL-E