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Disney In Depth: Blu-ray Review: ‘Up’ Five-Disc Combo
Brett Nachman   |  

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Up Blu-ray cover

Up
5-Disc 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital l 4-Disc Blu-ray l 3-Disc Blu-ray
Directed by Pete Docter
Starring Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer, Bob Peterson
Disney-Pixar
Release Date: December 4, 2012

Get ready to soar into Pixar’s tenth film, the studio’s first Oscar-nominated feature for Best Picture and quite possibly its most sentimental. Though Up already claims a place in our hearts – and on store shelves – now it has arrived on Blu-ray 3D. Is this new five-disc package worth the price? Let us hover toward a review of this emotional roller coaster.

Whether you caught Up in theaters or in its earlier home video release – or perhaps this may be your first screening – every viewing promotes laughs, tears, and much self-reflection. The most epically simple romance between balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen and his adoring wife Ellie is a testament to Pixar’s genius, in eliciting every emotion in the book in the span of ten minutes. Their darling story, which pervades past their marriage, transcends the medium of film. Up’s tastefully-done treatment of love and loss captures the nostalgic filmmaking of bygone decades. As Carl realizes his lifelong aspiration to fly his home to Paradise Falls, the supposedly real quest takes off. But we know that while “adventure is out there,” the true adventure is that of living, making memories, and loving others.

Though the plot wanders into more of an exploration tale after the first portion, following WALL-E’s pattern, Up’s consistently balanced mix of fun, hilarity and philosophical touches prove its prowess. Amusing characters come in the form of careless wilderness explorer Russell, adorable and easily-attachable dog Dug, and riotous mama bird, affectionately named “Kevin.” They bring equilibrium to the heavier moving material, which infuses into any moment when Carl reflects on his life or hankers to reach the postcard destination.

If there was an overarching message to Up – though the film does not hit you over the head with this point – that would be to live every day to the fullest. Some could call that sappy. Others may argue Up is extremely moving. I would contend that Up encapsulates the feelings of anyone who has ever experienced profound bereavement, but the film has an ability to play the melodrama in moderate doses. Yes, when I think of Up, I ponder over the grief and sadness, but more so over reviling in Carl’s transformative experience in this journey of self. We all can relate to that to some extent, and the connection we have with the characters in this quaint, yet ambitious movie is how Up will capably stand the test of time.

Carl and Ellie, forever companions

BONUS FEATURES

Disc 2

Cine-Explore takes viewers behind-the-scenes of Up, all the while watching the movie. This picture-in-picture format features both visual and aural content, delivered by Pete Docter (Director) and Bob Peterson (Co-director, voice of Dug). For any Pixar connoisseur, gaining this additional perspective into how their films are created, from developing the overall storyline to inserting the minute tidbits, carries the total Up experience.

Partly Cloudy, first released in theatres with Up, shows the relationship between a cloud, who cannot shape the cuddly babies like his companions, and the ill-fated stork who must transport everything from a crocodile to porcupine to its proper parents. Sensitively witty, six-minute Partly Cloudy casts a bright light on the idea that our differences are what make us special.

Dug’s Special Mission, the Up-themed four-minute short, explores how Dug came to materialize in Carl’s and Russell’s lives. But before their first odd encounter, the sweet-natured Golden Retriever was assigned to follow certain jobs by Alpha, his squeaky-voiced commander. To unlucky results, no less, as Alpha and his two fellow mean canines are subjected to adverse actions, thanks to Dug. This is one hilarious short.

Adventure is Out There serves like a mini-documentary at 22 minutes, placing attention on how the adventurous terrain of South America influenced the filmmakers in creating the look and feel of Up. The Pixar team continually aspires for accuracy in portraying their partially-imaginary worlds, and Up belongs in that standard.

The Many Endings of Muntz tells us how challenging it was to put an end to the villainous character. Storyboard sequences with scratch footage denote what could have been, but never became for one logical reason or another, in this five-minute feature.

Carl and Russell meet Dug, a talking dog

Disc 3

Married Life tracks the difficulty in properly executing the painful, yet poignant marriage between Carl and Ellie in an interesting nine-minute feature. Though an intimidating task to perfectly implement, on account of its centrality to the movie, the filmmakers certainly accomplished their goal most wonderfully.

Global Guardian Badge Game is designated for the youngest viewers who seek some interactivity. They can find that in this rather-generic and self-explanatory BD-Live game.

Up Promo Montage is clear enough in its description, showing a handful of promotional pieces.

Worldwide Trailers allows viewers to see how Up was pushed at a global level.

Documentaries consist of seven fascinating features, each rather easy to digest at around seven minutes each, looking into more specific fundamentals of how Up came to exist. Composing for Characters: Michael Giacchino Scores Up is my favorite of them all, a stage for one of the greatest musicians of our time. We glimpse into Giacchino’s score-making process on the piano, and then rendering those thoughts at an orchestral level. I have such respect for this man and how his genius expresses pure emotion through harmonies. Go Giacchino! Geriatric Hero shares everything about the development of Carl Fredricksen’s appearance and storyline. Canine Companions explores how the dogs factored into the film’s framework. I loved how the crew carefully thought of what these creatures would reflect on, carrying that out in the food-centric scenes. Wilderness Explorer represents the “Russell feature” and what characteristics were employed to design a personality like this rambunctious boy. Our Giant Flightless Friend lets Kevin take front and center for a change, showing how the Pixar group gave life to the bird of our wildest imagination. Homemakers of Pixar gives the amazing flying house the limelight, for this structure is as important to the film as any of its characters. Balloons and Flight pays attention to not only Carl’s home and the balloons that launch it off the ground, but also Muntz’s Spirit of Adventure.

Dug wants to capture Kevin, the bird

Presentation

With gorgeous colors, tones and textures, Up on Blu-ray equates to visual ecstasy. There are not enough synonyms for “gorgeous” in the thesaurus to describe its presentation that sparkles in every vibrant frame. The contrast between the more rich greens and darker backdrops looks good to the eye. For those who own a Blu-ray 3D player, the addition of this deeper layer into the South American landscape imparts a huge plus. Yet 3D is not a necessity, but rather a pleasant bonus to this total visual treat. Up’s instrumentals and sound deserve high praise, too. Michael Giacchino’s Oscar-winning score lends the appropriate gentle or gigantic trace, according to the scene, and the splendid audio also immerse viewers into the settings.

Film: A
Bonus Features: A-
Presentation: A+

Overall Grade: A

An uplifting piece of cinema – sorry, I could not resist one pun – Pixar’s irresistible story is among the most affecting movies I have viewed in years. If you already own Up on Blu-ray, then this version with a 3D is not necessary, unless you possess that player. However, if for some reason you have no version, or even only Up on DVD, then this multi-pack is well worth the cost. You cannot go wrong with Carl, Russell, Dug and Kevin.

This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Check out Disney In Depth Thursdays for fun and insight into most everything Disney. You can follow me on Twitter for updates of new editions of the column. Have a good week!

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