Posted on: November 11th, 2009 [REVIEW] Disney-Pixar’s ‘UP’ on Blu-Ray
I don’t care if you hate cartoons, hate Pixar (how could you?), are young, old, or miserable… UP is one of the best films of this year as well as one of the best animated films ever made.
Pixar has done it again and gone and created a film which sets the bar for story-telling to a new height. Granted Cars was kind of lame, Pixar has never failed to deliver a film with heart, excitement and character, and UP is a marvelous entry into the company’s near-pristine track-record.
UP is an adventure film, it is a coming of age film, but most importantly it’s a film about love and relationships. Unlike most animated films, UP doesn’t feature a bubbly young kid or wacky animal as the main character, but rather an old, curmudgeonly senior citizen, Carl Fredricksen. After the death of his wife and the loss of his house, Carl uproots his home (literally, with balloons) and floats off to South America to fulfill his wife’s dream of adventuring the amazonian Paradise Falls. When Russell, a young, high-strung boy from a wilderness troop, stows away on the airborne house, the adventure just begins as the two of them (and a talking dog named Dug) find themselves in a race to save a rare and magnificent bird from a twisted explorer.
The film is as bold visually as it is as a narrative; it is definitely Pixar’s most adult film – no, not that kind of adult, ya perv – touching on themes of death and loss. Dare I say UP might go slightly over the heads of the really young crowd that got into Cars and Toy Story. That being said, it most definitely is a family film, and an important one at that: it’s damn near impossible to not want to hug those closes to you after the film. The opening scene in UP could be one of the most emotional expositions put to film; I’m not going to lie, the first ten minutes had me in tears. It’s that reason that Pixar is so good at what they do, and so important for film right now. Don’t think that UP is all emotion and no action though, the film definitely delivers on the adventure theme in a very big way. It rivals the excitement of any previous Pixar romp, even out-actioning Finding Nemo or Wall-E.
So the blu-ray came out this Tuesday and I eagerly picked this up and watched it. Here in Canada the big electronics store Futureshop has a steel-book exclusive (which I doubt is either exclusive or steel, really). My first thought upon picking up the product is how ridiculously large the package is. If you’ve seen these steel-book cases before, imagine four of those stacked together, and that’s just how wide the UP steel-book blu-ray is. I figured there wold be a collectible book inside, necessitating such a wide case, but no, it was merely to accommodate the blu-ray copy of the film, the DVD copy of the film, the digital copy of the film and the disc of bonus features. While I understand Disney’s need to saturate a single household with multiple copies of their product, it looks quite ridiculous (see pic below).
Awkward packaging aside however, Disney/Pixar really pulled the stops for this release and put out a phenomenal product once more. The film is jaw-dropping in 1080p hi-definition – this is a must-own if you’re a blu-ray enthusiast like myself. The audio on the disc is breath-taking; I don’t even have a decent surround-sound setup, and I could still tell that the sound engineering on this is of the highest calibre.
The bonus disc that comes with the film is stuffed to the gills with goodies including:
- Commentary by director Pete Doctor and co-director Bob Peterson
- Dug’s Special Mission – An all new original short film that follows the misadventures of Dug as he attempts to complete his “special mission.” The short is directed by Up Story Supervisor, Ronnie Del Carmen.
- The Many Endings of Muntz – Many ideas were hatched about how to dispose of the film’s arch villain, Muntz, and now viewers can see the many alternate endings proposed during story development.
- Partly Cloudy – The hilarious short film that preceded screenings of Up. Everyone knows that the stork delivers babies, but where do the storks get the babies? The answer lies up in the stratosphere where the cloud Gus is a master at creating “dangerous” babies, which prove to be more than a handful for his loval delivery stork Peck. Directed by Pixar story artist, animator and voice actor Peter Sohn.
- Adventure is Out There – This action-packed documentary tells the story of the filmmakers’ own trek to the tepuis mountains of South America to research the design and story of the film.
- Cine-Explore – A visual montage of concept art, clips and documentary coverage that illustrates the directors’ commentary.
- Geriatric Hero – A character study of Carl, from research to realization including art and design, rigging, animation and story. It focuses on the issues of aging, “simplexity”, shape-language and compelling character arcs.
- Canine Companions – For anyone who ever wondered where CG puppies come from, an introduction to the design, behavior and language of dogs.
- Russell: Wilderness Explorer – A character study of Russell from inspiration and design to finding the character arc and authentic voice for this wilderness ranger.
- Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin – Find out how avian research and development at Pixar helped bring a mythical, 13-foot tall iridescent bird to life.
- Homemakers of Pixar – Carl and Ellie’s house is an important “character” in the film. Fans follow the development of the house from story to art to its ultimate realization in the computer.
- Balloons and Flight – Carl’s house and Muntz’s dirigible presented the filmmakers with two different problems—how could they make a physical impossibility possible? And, in the case of the dirigible, how would they unearth a fallen giant and let it soar?
- Composing for Characters – Composer Michael Giacchino returns to score his third Disney•Pixar feature film. See how the Up filmmakers collaborated with Giacchino to create the memorable score and compelling musical themes.
- Married Life – The original story concept that became the powerful “Married Life” scene, showing Carl and Ellie’s love story.
- Global Guardian Badge Game – Players try to locate countries, states and capitals around the globe in a multi-layered BD-Exclusive geography game enhanced by BD-Live.
It will take you hours upon hours to get through all that, and Disney really knows how to make this extra content entertaining and something that will enrich the experience of the film.
This could be one of the blu-ray purchases of the year, kids, so head out and buy it for yourself and all your friends. And for those of you still living in the stone age, UP is available on single or two-disc DVD.
8 Responses to “[REVIEW] Disney-Pixar’s ‘UP’ on Blu-Ray”
November 11th, 2009 at 5:53 pm
I don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet. WIll hopefully be getting one next month, and based on this review UP will be the first film I purchase. Pixar has never ever let me down!
Ryan Ferrier Says:
November 11th, 2009 at 6:14 pm
Aha! Like I mentioned above, the UP blu–ray comes with a dvd copy too, so you can buy it now! Yay commercialism!
Ben Rankel Says:
November 12th, 2009 at 4:32 am
I never watched cars – but I never wanted to either. It had no appeal at all. I thought the Incredibles was a weak entry as well.
Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up however are classics.
Ryan Ferrier Says:
November 12th, 2009 at 10:18 am
Incredibles was weak! Get your ass to mars, that movie was… incredible! Not only was it entertaining and funny, the film reeked of homage to some great comics (particularly Watchmen).
Ben Rankel Says:
November 12th, 2009 at 6:56 pm
Maybe I should say weak in comparison. You become accustomed to being handed diamonds and you begin to scoff at silver?
At the end of the day though, geek homage just wasn’t enough for me. The characters were a little flat, in spite of being rendered in 3-d. Instead of making an amazing movie like usual, they made a usual movie that wasn’t quite amazing. I suppose I have to hand back in my fanboy card then?
It wasn’t bad, just wouldn’t put it on the same pedestal I put what I consider to be their best pieces. I walked away without much of a lasting impression.
Ryan Ferrier Says:
November 12th, 2009 at 7:17 pm
You know, that’s a totally reasonable response especially when you look at Ratatouille, Wall-E and now UP.
Cars was a turd, it really was.
Ben Rankel Says:
November 12th, 2009 at 11:40 pm
Cars was produced by the Pixar 4th line for sure.
Top 10 Films of 2009 « Giant Killer Squid - Film, Comics, News, Reviews and more Says:
December 20th, 2009 at 8:47 pm
[…] Pixar did it again, only this time they had me weeping (literally) within the first fifteen minutes. A timeless adventure tale featuring unconventional characters, Up nails every nail on the head while managing to appeal to every age. The visuals and design of the film are stunning, proving once again that you can create a exceptional story-telling and cinematography from scratch. Read my original review. […]