I’m vaguely shocked to see so little talk of Pixar’s upcoming Wall-E after the Disney/Pixar panel showing on Saturday. It’s easy to get overshadowed by Iron Man, but with so little genuinely good film present at the con, I’d expect people to be all over this. Am I the only one who thought it looked brilliant? Hope not. Has everyone just begun to take Pixar for granted?
I didn’t cover the panel live because Disney was more aggressive than any studio in preventing captured footage. Every studio was shutting down digital cameras when possible (though not often enough) but Disney insisted upon closed laptops in the VIP/press area, too. Because people in that section are going to be the ones leaking footage. Absurd.
Devin covered the most important info from the Prince Caspian discussion: pending continued success, the studio will be making and releasing one Narnia flick per year, hitting each May. Andrew Adamson won’t be directing after this one, though he’ll undoubtedly stay on as producer.
Pixar dominated the second half of the panel, and that’s what’s worth covering. It’s not often Ben Burtt gives a live demo of his sound design, and I was enraptured as he used a small keyboard to show off some of his extensive work for the (mostly) dialogue-free Wall-E.
And the film looks spectacular. This is the movie I’ve been wanting to see Pixar make. The extended clip we were shown began with Wall-E powering up one morning to gather, cube and stack trash. He’s got a little cockroach buddy, and a small red cooler into which he tosses occasional objects of interest. The scene continued until a large ship set down near the little robot, dropping off Eve, the great-great-great granddaughter of an iMac that acts as the flick’s love interest.
The designs for a ruined Earth are curiously gorgeous. Pixar has developed a slightly soft, almost painted aesthetic that uses a braod spectrum of rusts and earth tones, and the canvas is massive. This is no close-framed cutesy tale. The rendering is friendly, but the scope of the images is grand and often oddly unsettling as Wall-E explores his corner of Earth. The hardest edges are rounded off by Pixar’s unparalleled ability to find humor and humanity in the most mechanical subject.
But the subject, so far as we’ve seen, is definitely mechanical, and that’s the aspect I’m concerned about. Burtt has done a wonderful job of building on his classic sense of sound design, but some of the stuff he’s come up with is undeniably harsh. As currently shown, Wall-E is a loud, clanking, whirring clockwork of a film, and in a poorly designed auditorium or a too-loud presentation it could be a turn off for Pixar’s broad audience.
Then there’s also the fact that director Andrew Stanton confirmed that the movie will have some sort of live-action component, though he declined to specifiy how that would manifest. All told, this is a great-looking film, and an intriguing (and I think necessary) step for Pixar. I hope more people start talking about it.