Whenever you have Steve Jobs and Roger Deakins aboard the same project, you know you’re in for a visual treat. “Wall-E,” one of the great films of 2008, arrives on DVD loaded with bonus material that will surely enhance the film’s cinematic pleasures. The special three-disc package from Pixar and Walt Disney features a digital copy of the pic, an intricate behind-the-scenes featurette, and two hours of bonus footage that includes the new short, “Burn E.”
Divided into two sections: ‘Humans’ and ‘Robots,’ the bonus disc is like a digital textbook in filmmaking, beginning with the ‘Humans’ menu, which is subtitled ‘For Film Fans.’
With very little dialogue in the script, director Andrew Stanton’s vision of the film always relied heavily on both sound and animation.
Four years in the making, animators and designers spent hours studying robots at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., as well as riding around tank-treads on the earth to create the realistic, janky movements of “Wall-E.”
Viewers will be also surprised to find in “The Captain’s Log” that the humans aboard the BNL cruise ship were originally supposed to be aliens — boneless green blobs to be precise. Stanton says this original concept was much darker and ultimately “took people out of the movie,” which is why humans and more simplistic settings and philosophies were used.
In addition to their visual homework, the Pixar team got a special hand from Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins and Oscar-winning visual effects guru Dennis Muren — to capture the realistic lighting while shooting live-action.
Stanton and his collaborators also studied films such as sci-fi classics “2001” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to replicate the 70MM anamorphic look of “Wall-E”
“The problem with a lot of films is that they tend to be overlit,” Deakins explains.
While the “Humans” portion of the bonus disc is intricate and techie, kids will find relief in the “Robots” menu. “Treasure and Trinkets” features Wall-E playing on a white screen with some of his friends and toys, including a Hula hoop and a devious magnet. “Lots of Bots” is a shape-shifting game in which viewers can assemble a robot.
After watching “Wall-E,” (and the theatrical short “Presto”) viewers get a chance to meet “Burn-E,” the cute, unfortunate robot, similar to R2D2, who spends his time aboard the BNL cruise ship trying to repair an elusive light bulb. The four-minute short is intertwined with the “Wall-E” plot and is sure to satisfy.
Other achievements on the bonus disc include “Wall-E’s World of Sound” and “Life of a Short,” in which the real-life Pixar folks jump in front of the screen and visually construct how and what they did to make a specific scene.