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UP
DVD + Blu-ray Combo Pack Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo
Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Audio: DTS HD 5.1, DTS HD 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: November 10, 2009
 

“ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!”

Film ****

I honestly don’t think we will ever see the day when Pixar Animation Studios releases a film that is below the level of masterwork. No other studio has been on such an incredible, skyrocketing role like they have in the past several years. Up is yet another classic in the making from the Pixar lab, and ranks right alongside the likes of The Incredibles, Ratatouille and WALL*E as not only one of the best Pixar films, but animated films in general.

More so than any other Pixar film, Up is working with so many layers, which blend together in the utmost seamless way imaginable. Comedy, adventure, and pure heartfelt emotion are the key ingredients in this story, not to mention dogs and birds. Mix in some truly breathtaking computer animation, and you’ve got an absolutely wonderful movie that you will want to revisit time and time again.

The film tells the story of Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner). Carl’s an elderly man who’s about to put a lifelong dream of his into action. What inspires this dream is illustrated in the film’s first ten minutes, which I guarantee will bring a tear to even the most hardcore non-sensitive viewer in existence.

At a very young age, Carl met a girl named Ellie, who was just as obsessed with flight and exploration as he was. She would later become his wife, and we see their married life unfold through the years in a beautiful montage. The two have a primary goal during this time, to make enough money so that they could take a trip to Paradise Falls, which was Ellie’s lifelong dream.

Unfortunately, Ellie passes on, leaving Carl left with not just grief, but guilt over never being able to help her achieve that dream. When he receives a court order that forces him out of his house and into a retirement home, Carl sees an opportunity to bring Ellie’s dream to life. By basically turning his house into one big hot air balloon, Carl’s home lifts off the ground and into the skies, destined for Paradise Falls.

But Carl does have an unexpected passenger along for the ride. A young wilderness scout named Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) is right outside Carl’s door, having  just visited him minutes before takeoff and offering a service for the elderly. The grumpy Carl has no choice but to let Russell tag along for the ride.

Before long, forces of nature cause Carl’s journey to take more than a slight detour. After crash landing on the ground, Carl and Russell cross paths with two eccentric species that turn out to be, for my money, two of the best characters in any Disney movie to date. The first is a rainbow colored, flightless bird that Jordan instantly names Kevin, and the second is a lovable dog named Dug, who talks via a voice activated dog collar, which provides countless laugh out loud moments.

The story takes an interesting turn when Carl runs into his lifelong hero, one time famous explorer Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer). Muntz now has an army of dogs with human voice collars helping him hunt down the rarest form of bird species, which Kevin happens to be. At the height of his fame, Muntz was disgraced and vowed to capture this species to present to the public as a way of redeeming himself, which has caused him to go a little more than mad.

To simply put it, Up is astounding on so many levels. When it’s funny, it’s uproarious, when it’s sad, you really feel it, and when the action sequences kick in, you are literally on the edge of your seat. When any film can execute such a brilliant form of multitasking, you simply have to applaud it immensely…and believe it when I say that Up masters it thoroughly.

Up represents fantastic animated filmmaking on a grand scale, in the Pixar tradition. It’s big, hilarious, emotionally impactful and action packed. This is unquestionably one of the year’s best films, as well as one of the best animated movies I’ve ever seen.

Film ****

Pixar and high def. Those are the only words one needs to know that an astounding presentation is about to unfold before their eyes. The incredible color and phenomenal image detail displayed in every frame of this film will have your eyes amazed with sheer wonder. Blue skies have never  looked more fantastic than they do here! HD is the way you want to experience this film in, and it will very much make you feel like your right there with Carl and Russell during their journey. Very much the best looking animated Blu-ray release to come about this year!

Audio ****

A downright perfect match for the incredible picture quality. The DTS HD mix, available in both 5.1 and 2.0 forms, is also a most important element in sweeping the viewer up in all the adventure. The score by Michael Giacchino (who coincidentally also scored Star Trek) is delivered in fantastic form through the channels, and the several key action sequences that come late in the movie are extravagant high points in the presentation. Even Kevin the Bird’s hilarious squawking sounds tremendous! A perfect sound mix if there ever was one!

Features ****

Disney goes all out with this one-of-a-kind 4-Disc combo pack. On Disc One, we get the Blu-ray version of the film. Extras-wise, we a Cine-Explore visual commentary track with directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, as well as the Pixar theatrical short titled “Partly Cloudy”, an all new animated short titled “Dug’s Secret Mission”, a featurette titled “Adventure is Out There” and Alternate Scenes including The Many Endings of Muntz.

Disc Two contains exclusive Blu-ray extras, starting with seven individual behind the scenes documentaries, which can only be viewed separately but add up to close to 50 minutes of material. There’s also an alternate scene titled “Married Life”, a promo montage, a Global Guardian Badge Game, and two Theatrical Trailers.

Disc Three is the regular DVD version which comes with all the extras included with the single-disc DVD release, and Disc Four is a Digital Copy version, which is compatible for a PC/portable device.

Summary:

Up continues Pixar’s unbeatable blending of powerful storytelling and top of the line animation. It’s got characters you will never forget, some of the best comedy in any film this year, awesome action and an awe-inspiring sense of wonder. And in HD, it will astound you in every way possible. Truly, one of the year’s must own releases!

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