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As follow-up to their masterpiece WALL•E, Pixar Animation Studios has delivered audience a superbly delightful and uplifting film that they have aptly titled UP ($46). UP is representative of everything that is wonderful about Pixar’s animated films, and easily proves itself to be another mature and elegant exercise in fantasy storytelling; one that and does so with a whole lot of heart and absolutely no saccharine. As the film opens, we are introduced to a quiet, shy young boy named Carl Fredricksen, with a love for adventure, who is watching newsreel footage of his hero- explorer Charles F. Muntz. While exploring his neighborhood, Carl happens on an outgoing tomboy named Ellie, who share his passion for exploration. Through a quick montage, we see Carl and Ellie grow up, fall in love, share their lives and grow old together, all the while, hoping to take a long promised trip to Paradise Falls in South America. Unfortunately, life and finances always intervened, thus preventing Carl and Ellie from fulfilling their lifelong dream, with old age finally separating Carl from the woman he has loved.

After Ellie’s passing, Carl grows into just another grumpy old man, who sours on the world around him. Despite the urbanization of his neighborhood, Carl refuses to leave the home he has shared with Ellie, despite ever increasing offers from real estate developers. After getting into a tussle with a construction worker, Carl finds himself facing a court order that forces him to move into a retirement community. With nothing left to lose, Carl decides to fulfill his promise to Ellie. Inflating thousands of balloons, the house is lifted off of its foundation, and with his makeshift airship aloft, Carl sets a course Paradise Falls. Of course, the trip proves anything but simple, with Carl’s first complication coming in the form of a stowaway- namely an eight-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell, who was attempting earn his badge for "assisting the elderly" when the house took off. Other complications come in the form of bad weather, talking dogs, exotic birds and a surprisingly tarnished boyhood hero. The vocal talent behind UP features Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, John Ratzenberger, David Kaye, Elie Docter, Jeremy Leary, Mickie McGowan, Danny Mann, Donald Fullilove, Jess Harnell, Josh Cooley and Pete Docter.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (and Pixar) has made UP available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. I could end my comments here by saying the 1080p presentation of UP is flat out perfect and you should be out getting a copy of this Blu-ray, instead of reading this review. Of course, there are those who will want to hear a bit more, so forgive me as I extol the virtues of this supremely sublime Blu-ray release. Image texturing and detail for computer animation really doesn’t get any better than this- kudos to the folks at Pixar for making every frame of UP a decadent piece of eye-candy. The picture also has a wonderful sense of virtual depth that is a credit to the animation’s design, lighting, textures and computer rendering. Colors are extraordinarily wonderful- whether it be bright primary colors, pastels or dusty hues; it all looks truly marvelous. Blacks are beyond excellent, as are the whites. Contrast and shadow detail are as virtually perfect as the computers could render them. Coming from the digital files, up is free from grain, noise and imperfections. In other word, this presentation is absolutely perfect and totally reference quality.

UP is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Complex and subtle, the sound is as awe inspiring as the visuals. The effortless quality of the track comes across as light and as floaty as Carl’s airborne domicile. All of the outlying channels engage to maximum effect, whether it is for an action sequence, or just to offer a musical cue from Michael Giacchino’s delightful score. Sounds are always perfectly modulated with precise placement and effortless pans. The sound design creates enveloping and engaging sonic environments throughout the course of the film; with even the quite moments have a living/breathing quality about them. Fidelity is magnificent and the bass channel has power, without ever becoming overblown. Voices have a warm, lifelike quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. An English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 channel soundtrack is also provided, as are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread throughout the set. Starting things off on disc one is a Cine-Explore mode (requires a Profile 1.1 player), running Video Commentary with director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson, which has been augmented with in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements, which include animated storyboards, concept art and reference video footage. Next up is Adventure Is Out There, a twenty-two minute look at the genesis of the film. Two Pixar Shorts are up next- Partly Cloudy and Dug's Special Mission. Both shorts are presented in hi-def. The Many Endings Of Muntz look at the various swan songs envisioned for the film’s tarnished childhood hero. UP is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Moving on to disc two, one will find even more supplemental materials. A series of short Documentaries running nearly fifty minutes start up the second disc and feature the following programs: Geriatric Hero, Canine Companions, Wilderness Explorer, Our Giant Flightless Friend, Homemakers Of Pixar, Balloons And Flight and Composing For Characters. Married Life is a nine-minute look at alternate pieces to the all-important montage that defines Carl and Ellie lifelong relationship in just a matter of moments. Global Guardian Badge Game is an interactive game that will be of interest to younger audience members. An Up Promo Montage of various spots and a couple of Theatrical Trailers close out disc two.

Disc three contains a DVD edition of UP. Disc four contains a Digital Copy of the film.

As I stated above, UP is superbly delightful and uplifting film. The Blu-ray release of UP is as perfect as CGI animated films get in high definition. UP gets my highest recommendation.



Up (4 Disc Combo Pack with Digital Copy and DVD) [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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