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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Drama > Adventure > Travel > Computer Animation > Up (2009/Disney - Pixar Blu-ray w/DVD)

Up (2009/Disney - Pixar Blu-ray w/DVD)


Picture: B+/B-     Sound: A-/B     Extras: B     Film: B



Pixar was not always part of Disney, despite being distributed by them, but they have not faltered and more than any other entity in Hollywood are in the lead of a golden period of such animated features.  Pete Docter’s Up (2009) is the latest of these releases and it deservedly is one of the year’s biggest hits.  It tells us the story of Carl Fredricksen, a man who always wanted to go exploring, married the woman of his dreams in Ellie, found they could not have children and lived a long, happy life until Carl became a widower.  Now alone, he still has fading hopes and his very home becomes under attack.


The former helium balloon salesman hatches a plan to not get thrown out of his house and the adventure begins.  Edward Asner is excellent as the voice of the old Carl and is amazing throughout.  The film is as smart as it is charming as written by Docter, Bob Peterson and Thomas McCarthy.  Docter previous wrote and directed Monsters, Inc., while Petersen wrote Finding Nemo and contributed to Ratatouille, so these are writers up to speed on this kind of storytelling.


Christopher Plummer voices explorer Charles Muntz, Peterson voices the dogs Alpha and Dug, who may become a spin-off character of his own and we also hear from Jordan Nagai, Delroy Lindo and John Ratzenberger among the many who bring this terrific feature to life.  This is unusual in the way it stays with me, but not in an outright way.  That is not a bad thing, but proof that it is effective in a unique way that makes it another distinct Pixar production.  I may not be the only one that has had that experience and as it reaches more people (there are plenty despite its huge blockbuster money machine status so far) it will eventually have people talking in ways they have not before on a computer animated feature.  Up is terrific and one of the year’s few must-sees so far.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is stylized in a way that gives it a very, very, slightly soft look, a risk for a film that is expected to be sharper and clearer than any other computer animated production on the market, but the risk pays off in the artistic presentation that makes it seem more real and creates the world of Carl’s memory and life.  The color schemes also help and when the most vibrant colors appear, it becomes poignant and important to the narrative.  Pixar’s success has been about getting character in the images as much as heart and soul into the narrative and they once again succeed wildly.  Detail and depth here are terrific and different from what they have done before.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD looks good for that format and is included here as a bonus.  This was issued in 3-D in theaters, but is not in that form in either format at this time.


The DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 is also impressive with the film going from its quiet, often dialogue-filled moments, to complete silence save the music by Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible 3, The Incredibles) in some of his best work to date, to the surrounds and sonics kicking in on a big scale that shows what a smart soundmaster this film has.  Pixar has done a better job than most live-action (with digital effects) blockbusters of the last decade or so in sound design and Up is no exception.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX on the DVD is also very lively and one of the best Dolby Digital mixes of any kind we have heard on DVD to date.


Extras include the DVD version, Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices DVD-ROM disc, BD Live interactive functions on the Blu-ray, two great shorts (Dug’s Special Mission and Partly Cloudy) in HD, Cine-Explore/Adventure Is Out There offers a great making-of piece about how the makers traveled to Venezuela to see the lands they were going to recreate, Video/Audio Calibration section and Many Endings Of Muntz Alternate Scenes on Blu-ray One, Global Guardian Badge Game, eight well-done making-of documentary featurettes,  Up Promo Montage, Worldwide Trailers and Married Life, offering expanded character back stories on Blu-ray Two.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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