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Up (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 29, 2009 by  



A touching, very fun and hilarious animated film that is incredibly beautiful and highly detailed.   Disney*Pixar has once again raised the bar for quality CG animation and awesome storytelling.  “Up” is probably the best film thus far to come out in 2009 and a fantastic Blu-ray release from Walt Disney Studios.  There’s no doubt about it, this Blu-ray release is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2009 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Up

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (For Some Peril and Action)

RELEASE DATE: November 10, 2009

Directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson

Story by Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy and Bob Peterson

Screenplay by Bob Petersen and Pete Docter

Executive Producer: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

Producer: Jonas Rivera

Associate Producer: Denise Ream

Music by Michael Giacchino

Edited by Kevin Nolting

Production Design by Ricky Nierva

Featuring the voices of:

Edward Asner as Carl Fredricksen

Christopher Plummer as Charles Muntz

Jordan Nagai as Russell

Bob Peterson as Dug/Alpha

Delroy Lindo as Beta

Jerome Ranft as Gamma

Elie Docter as Young Ellie

Jeremy Leary as Young Carl

Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios take moviegoers up, up and away on one of the funniest adventures of all time with their latest comedy-fantasy. Up follows the uplifting tale of 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell. Their journey to a lost world, where they encounter some strange, exotic and surprising characters, is filled with hilarity, emotion and wildly imaginative adventure.

A touching, very fun and hilarious animated film that is incredibly beautiful and highly detailed.   Disney*Pixar has once again raised the bar for quality CG animation and awesome storytelling.  “Up” is probably the best film thus far to come out in 2009 and a fantastic Blu-ray release from Walt Disney Studios.  There’s no doubt about it, this Blu-ray release is highly recommended!

From the creators of “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.” comes “UP” from Disney*Pixar.  With the yearly success of CG animated films by Disney’s Pixar Animation Studio, “Up” is not just a film that improves upon modern CG animation, it’s a clever film that manages to capture youth but also old age.  Through this film we see pain, loss, laughter, compassion through the wisdom of age but also the naivety and spontaneous side of youth.  An adventure, fantasy film that will capture your attention and make you laugh but also have you in awe of what Pixar Animation Studios was able to accomplish.

“Up” is directed by Pete Docter (writer for “Wall-E”, “Monsters, Inc.”, “Toy Story” films),  a screenplay co-written by Bob Peterson (“Ratatouille”, “Finding Nemo”) and music by Michael Giacchino (“Lost”, “Fringe”, “Star Trek”,”Alias”, “Ratatouille”, “The Incredibles”).  The film has received mostly all positive reviews from film critics and the film was a box office success making over $292 million worldwide.  The film was the second highest grossing film domestically by Pixar (after “Finding Nemo”) and the fifth highest grossing animated feature in the US of all time.

And now that film makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut on Nov. 3rd.  “Up” on Blu-ray is presented in a four-disc release which includes a Blu-ray Disc, a second Blu-ray Disc with the special features, a DVD copy of the film and a Digital Copy of the film.

The film first introduces us to a young Carl Fredricksen who is watching his idol, the famous explorer Charles F. Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer, “The Insider”, “Nicholas Nickelby”, “A Beautiful Mind”) who brings back the skeleton of a 13 ft. bird that he found in South America. Of course, because this bird is a species not known to man, scientist calls the bones as fake and Muntz then decides to leave back to South America and to prove people wrong, he would return with the living bird and won’t return until he finds it.

For young Carl, Muntz was his hero and he would wear his pilot goggles and carry a balloon that would say “Spirit of Adventure” named after the flying vehicle that Muntz rides.  But Muntz is also the hero of a girl named Ellie.  Both kids love adventure and meet each other in a rundown house which they call their club house.

We then see Carl and Ellie as children and later become young adults who marry and renovate the run down club house to be an actual home.    Ellie’s dream and her passion for adventure is to move her clubhouse to Paradise Falls in South America and Carl makes his promise to her that he will make it happen.

As they grow older, each time they save money for their trip to Paradise Falls, they run into financial situations in which they have to dip into their savings.  Since Carl makes a living as a balloon vendor, they enjoy a simple life and live in the same house, still in love with each other.   But as time has passed for both Carl and Ellie, by the time they are ready to go on their trip, the two have become very old and eventually, Ellie passes away.

Now older Carl (voice by Edward Asner, “Lou Grant”, “Mary Tyler Moore”) is alone, an angry recluse and feels that he has nothing to live for with his wife gone.  His home is all he has and it’s his constant memory of his love for Ellie.  But his home is now in an area where commercial buildings are being built and the construction company has tried to buy his home but since it’s his memory of Ellie, Carl refuses.  Meanwhile, a Wilderness Explorer, a boy named Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) needs his final merit badge and to achieve that, he needs to to “assist the elderly”.  Russell is a talkative young boy, a bit much for Carl and Carl sends him off to hunt a snipe.

One day, a vehicle of the construction company smashes into his mailbox that he and Ellie painted together and Carl is so much in rage that he beats the construction worker in the head and leads him to bleed.   He goes into court and is ordered to move into the Shady Oaks Retirement Home.

On the day he is to leave his home and start his new life at the retirement home, Carl unleashes his plan by using all his balloons which takes his home out of the ground and flies off and literally avoiding from him to separate himself from the home that he and Ellie had lived in for decades.  His goal is to make good with that promise he made to Ellie and that is to move their home to Paradise Falls in South America.

All seems good for Carl, until he receives a knock on the door and realizes that young Russell was snipe hunting on the porch all this time.  Thus Carl is shocked that his plans may be thwarted because he has a child with him.

Carl and Russell end up in South America where they  meet a very tall bird which Russell names it “Kevin” and also meet up with a dog named Dug who is able to talk (due to a neck collar that allows speech) who seems to be hunting for the bird for his master.  The four end up being on an adventure through tough terrain in South America.  Why is Dug after Kevin?  Why is Kevin needing the help of Carl and Russell?  And who is the original master of Dug who built the talking collar?  But most of all, will Carl be able to keep his promise to Ellie by bringing the house to Paradise Falls?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Up” is an audio and visual treat.  Presented in 1080p (1:78:1), Disney*Pixar raised the bar of their own previous works and managed to capture so much detail in this film, literally I was floored by how incredible this film looks.  From the moment I saw the CG skin of Carl, the detail of the clothing, of leather, the detail inside the home of Carl and Ellie, the detail on the plants, the rocks, the sky, you name it…”Up” is an incredible looking film on High Definition but an animated film in which the famous animation studio has raised the bar yet again.

By watching how the creative arts group at Pixar actually went up high into the Tepui mountains, saw all the rock formations for themselves, a chance to embrace, draw and see how things are in the area but also see how Paradise Falls looks in reality, definitely gave the crew a major incentive to make sure the atmosphere of “Up” was just as detailed as they saw with their own eyes.  From the flowers, the plants, the unusual rock formations, the sky and weather conditions, the animation crew was able to capture it so closely with again, so much detail… I was literally in awe of how beautiful this film looks.

There are also details in the way Russell wears his clothes and the clothing movement, the hair of the dogs and how the lighting effects reflect from the hair off the dogs, the slobber of the dogs.  Just the way the physics are with the balloons as it carries the house and more!  There is just a lot of well-thought out details that come along with the film and you just can’t help but be impressed.

Picture quality is absolutely fantastic!  Walt Disney Studios have pretty much been leaders in quality for their animated releases on Blu-ray and the colors are vibrant, blacks are nice and dark but again, the sheer amount of detail is just incredible.  No compression, no banding.  If there was a film that I can easily classify as “reference quality”, “Up” is definitely a film I would put high up there.

As for audio quality, the film is presented in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD (and also French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby).  The film also sounds incredible.  From the dogs barking all around you, the sound of the weather around South America, the balloons popping and the action sequences at the end of the film.   Sound is crystal clear from the front and center channels.  The film also sports solid surrounds capturing the overall ambiance and rear surrounds and also good amount of LFE usage especially during the storm sequences and when the house is bumping around the rocks.

This is definitely a film that sounds incredible on Blu-ray and the lossless audio is definitely crystal clear and immersive.  Overall, this is a soundtrack that has its immersive moments but what captures your attention and what sets the mood is the beautiful soundtrack by composer Michael Giacchino.  The beautiful music that captures that feel of yesteryear is just amazing.

As for subtitles, subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

The DVD features video in widescreen (1:78:1) and is enhanced for 16×9 Televisions.  Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround Sound.  Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Up” comes with the following special features featured in 1080p (1:78:1) for all bonus material on both Blu-ray discs, audio in English 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital (also, in French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital) and English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles:

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary by Director Pete Docter and Co-Director Bob Peterson.  Informative and entertaining commentary with a good understanding of the mindset of both Docter and Peterson and the people and environments that inspired the characters and overall feel for the film.  Definitely an enjoyable commentary track!
  • Cine-Explore – A visual montage of concept art, clips, documentary coverage illustrating the director’s commentary with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson.
  • Party Cloudy: Theatrical Short – (5:46) – A short CG film about clouds who create babies (animals and humans) for the storks but one dark cloud named Gus and his stork tend to make only dangerous animals and he wonders why he’s the main cloud producing those dangerous animals and how his stork, Peck has to deal with the dangerous atmosphere.
  • Dug’s Special Mission: All New Original Short – (4:40) After you watch the film, watch this CG short about Dug and his relationship with the other dogs and what took place before he met Carl and Russell.  Directed by Ronnie Del Carmen (Story Supervisor).
  • Adventure is Out There – (22:17) Footage and Interviews with the Pixar crew who took a trip to South America to venture up one of the Tepui mountains (in Venezuela) and to also check out Angel Falls and discuss their experiences and show how things were up in those mountains and bringing that to life in the film “Up”.
  • Alternate Scene: The Many Endings of Muntz – (4:56) The Pixar crew talk about what ideas they had for the character of Muntz at the end of the film.
  • Learn How to take your movies on the go – (1:00) A promo explaining what a digital copy is all about.

EASTER EGG: On Disc 1, if you highlight bonus features or set up, hit the left button and you will access an Easter Egg titled “The Egg” (1:55)

DISC 2:

  • Documentaries

– Geriatric Hero – (6:24) The creation of Carl Fredricksen and the elements they wanted to put into his character design and more.

– Canine Companions – (8:26) The creation of the canine characters and the filmmakers attending a seminar by Ian Dunbar, Ph.D (Dog behaviorist) and learning canine hierarchy.

– Russell: Wilderness Explorer – (9:00) How the character design of Russell came about and featuring the young  Jordan Nagai, the voice of Russell.

– Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin – (5:04) How the character design of Kevin came about and the challenges in trying to create this unique 13-foot bird.

– Homemakers of Pixar – (4:38) Creating the house for “Up” and creating the interior set of the home.  Also, how a physical model of the house was created and how the house is more than just a living space in the film.

– Balloons and Flight – (6:25) The challenge of the crew of making balloons carrying off a home believable to the audience, creating the “Spirit of Adventure” blimp and more!

– Composing for Characters – (7:37)  Composer Michael Giacchino talks about creating the musical score for his third Disney*Pixar film “Up”, the recording of the music and how he worked with the filmmakers.

  • Alternate Scene: Married Life – (9:15) Featuring the original love story ideas of how Carl and Ellie would get together.  Utilizing sketches via pre-production to tell various stories.
  • Up Promo Montage – (6:00) A montage of CG animated shorts featuring Carl, Russell, Dug and Kevin.
  • Global Guardian Badge Game – A geography game in which you find the states to earn a badge.
  • Worldwide Trailers – Theatrical Trailer #2 (1:48), Theatrical Trailer #3 (2:29)

DVD:

The DVD contains the same special features as the Blu-ray (Disc One).

I absolutely love “Up” and I think that aside from the great detail and animation, what I enjoyed is how it communicates to adults as Carl and Ellie are absolutely relatable to the adults and married couples and you can understand the pain that he goes through when you lose that special someone in your life.  The film does a great job of balancing his story, his emotions of trying to keep Ellie’s memory alive through his home, while Russell represents that innocent and naive child and seeing these two characters, total opposites together and trying to make things work.

But what I found touching is that initial first 10-15 minutes of the film and seeing Carl and Ellie grow and the pain they have encountered in their life.  The inability to have a child, to see their dreams dashed by situations that required the money they saved up for their trip but the pain of seeing how these two have grown from children to seniors.  One thing that the Pixar crew wanted to accomplish with this film is to capture that appreciation you have for your grandparents but also, an animated film that young children can enjoy through the character of Russell.

There are some deep things that happen in the film, circumstances that children probably will not understand but for adults, these emotions that touch you profoundly.  Of course, a lot of these deep emotions are for the first 15 minutes of the film between Carl and Ellie as we see flashbacks through their married years but the film becomes highly entertaining once we see the child, Russell and the old man Carl together and having to work together, despite Carl getting a bit annoyed by Russell’s youth and non-stop talking and moving.

But it’s the pacing set by the screenwriters that work.  The film never gets boring as it the film becomes very adventurous and also humorous throughout.  The humor of a house traveling throughout parts of the world on hundreds of balloons is just a fun concept.  And again, the film never gets boring.  It’s just an exciting and fun ride when both Carl and Russell are together and manages to end with an uplifting ending.

And the fun doesn’t stop there.  This Blu-ray release is packed.  Four discs with special features that really go into how this film was created and learning about the things that inspired the filmmakers but also the trip the Pixar crew took to the mountains that inspired them to create that atmosphere.  That was great to see.  But also there are fun shorts for the children as well and also a game.  And of course, a DVD for those long commutes and a digital copy as well.

As for the PG rating, this is the second Pixar animated film to get the rating since “The Incredibles” and mainly its because of the action sequences.  Those sequences are not scary at all and I watched the film with my six-year-old.  If anything, he was asking questions which related to Carl and Ellie’s marriage (parts which relate to a scene in which Carl and Ellie are unable to have children and the scene where Carl is mourning after Ellie’s passing).

“Up” is a film that was geared not just for children but for adults.  The film is mature enough for adults to appreciate, enjoy and to be ultimately touched but also lively, fun and exciting for children to enjoy.  Definitely one of the top films of 2009 and one of the top Blu-ray releases of the year thus far.  Overall, “Up” is absolutely magnificent and this Blu-ray release is highly recommended!






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