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NYCC: ‘WALL-E’ Panel
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Wall-EWhen I first heard about Disney/Pixar’s Wall•E early last year, I said, “I can already tell that Pixar’s Wall•E will be my new favorite animated movie.” Well, a year later, I feel even stronger that it will not only be my new favorite animated movie, but probably one of my favorite movies ever.

In Wall•E, the Earth has become overrun with trash, causing the humans to leave the planet. But when they left, they forgot to shut off the last clean-up robot, a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class — WALL•E. WALL•E continues to do as he’s been programmed, cleaning up day after day for hundreds of years all by himself, until one day, EVE — a new class of robot — arrives on Earth.

Wall•E‘s producer, Jim Morris, showed some new footage from the film at the New York Comic Con on Saturday, April 19. Between showings of the previous released trailers as well as several new clips from the film, Morris told the audience that the film’s director, Andrew Stanton, pitched him the animated tale to him by saying, “Imagine everybody leaves the Earth and they forgot to turn the last robot off” and that was enough for him to sign on. Morris said he was attracted to the Robinson Crusoe aspect and that he was glad that it was not about a wise-cracking robot. Morris then brought on Ben Burtt to do the film, as well as some other crew members. Their plans was to have this film look and sound like no other animated movie, while also honoring the great traditions of scifi.

One of the amazing aspects of WALL•E is that there’s barely any dialogue, yet the story is conveyed smoothly, with humor and plenty of scenes that tug at the heartstrings. WALL•E does make sounds (think R2-D2 here) and says his own name, as well as EVE’s, but the story is manly conveyed visually, set against a brilliant score by Thomas Newman.

WALL•E is one of an army of robots that built to clean up the Earth of the future (700 years from now), but the mission goes wrong. When it fails, everyone leaves the planet, and only WALL•E and his pet cockerroach Al are left on Earth. Because he is a robot, WALL•E continues to do what he’s programmed to do century after century, which is cleaning up trash and making little cubes out of them. Over time, he’s grows curious of the artifacts he finds in the trash and starts to collect them. The small robot slowly developed a personality and a soul, and he’s now conscious of the fact that he is alone. And he’s lonely, too, but one day that changes, when a rocketship lands on Earth.

In one of the first clips we were shown, this spaceship lands and the “killer robot” EVE emerges. At first, WALL•E is terrified, but he then decides to follow EVE to try and make a connection with her. She evades him, until a sandstorm whips up and he takes her to safety in his truck, the place he stores all of his collectibles. One of his prized possessions is an old Betamax tape of the movie Hello Dolly, which he watches after work every time. In a highly humorous segment, WALL•E tries to impress EVE by playing the movie, and singing and dancing along with it. When that doesn’t work out, he shows her an assortment of his other knicknacks like bubble wrap, a light bulb, and a Rubix cube. We see through this clip that WALL•E is a romantic at heart, and EVE, unfortunately, is technologically too advanced for him.

When the rocketship return for EVE and Walle must decide whether to chase the girl of his dreams or stay in the one place he’s known. At the last minute, he chooses the girl and hitches a ride on the outside of the rocketship as it launches into outerspace. When the rocket lands on the luxury liner Axiom, we get to see what’s happened to the humans and how technology has advanced in 700 years.

As a nod to scifi, Alien star Sigourney Weaver provides the voice of the Axiom’s computer. “We kind of geeked out at the thought of having a little wink to Alien,” Morris said. “Instead of fighting Mother, Sigourney has become Mother.”

Some of the new footage we were shown expanded on many of the scenes from the previously released trailers: WALL•E riding the rocket, then later using a fire extinguisher to stay adrift in space; WALL•E’s misadventures inside of the Axiom spacecruiser; and his interaction with the obsessive-compulsive little cleaning robot M-O. We see M-O desperately trying to WALL•E (who has many centuries of grime on him!) to no avail; WALL•E, of course, can’t understand what M-O’s problem is.

In the final clip presented, WALL•E jettisons from the Axiom in an escape pod (how awesomely like Star Wars is that?!) that was accidentally set to self-destruct. EVE finds out and races to save him.

Morris informed the crowd that there will be an animated sequence that will run as an epilogue over the end credits with music from Peter Gabriel. Gabriel worked closely with Thomas Newman to ensure that this sequenced fit in with the rest of the movie.

WALL•E hits theaters June 27, 2008.

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