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post #1 of 16 Old 11-21-09, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Up - Blu-ray Review

Up: Blu-ray
Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, John Ratzenberger
Directors: Peter Docter, Bob Peterson
Studio: Disney/Pixar
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Rating: PG
Blu-ray Release Date: November 10, 2009

Movie

In this day and age the idea of making a movie about an 70+ year old widower transporting his house by helium-filled balloons to a far off paradise that has strange talking dogs and a beautiful, yet unattainable, flightless bird seems pretty outrageous. That certainly isn’t the case for Pixar because that is exactly how the story goes for ‘Up’.

Carl Fredricksen (Asner) as a child would fantasize and mimic his hero, Charles Muntz (Plummer). Muntz was an adventure-seeker who traveled to far off lands in a grandiose dirigible in search of all things unique. Muntz happened across a place in South America that he called Paradise Falls where he discovered the bones of a gigantic flightless bird. The scientific association that Muntz belonged to deemed this skeleton to be fabricated by Muntz himself. Outraged and certain to prove them wrong Muntz sets off back to Paradise Falls to capture one of these birds alive and vows to not return until he does; Muntz is never seen again.

One day while Carl was playing he crosses paths with this eccentric girl named Ellie in an abandoned house. Ellie apparently shares his same passion and love for adventure and Charles Muntz, Carl discovers, as she is playing all by herself imitating Charles Muntz as well. Ellie befriends Carl and makes him swear that he will take her to Paradise Falls one day and the two instantly become inseparable from that point forward. They grow up happily together, eventually getting married and Carl buys the abandoned house that the two first met in and they fix it up together. The two live their life blissfully, Carl as a balloon salesmen and Ellie as a curator for an exhibit on South America, and never let go of their dream to one day live at Paradise Falls. Unfortunately, they never get to go as life gets in the way and eventually Ellie passes away.

Carl, now alone, lives his life secluded in his home where life continues on around him. High-rise buildings are beginning to overrun Carl’s once quiet neighborhood and he refuses to let go of his home. Ever so bitter about what is happening and on the verge of being put into in a senior center, he plans to finally fulfill his promise to go to Paradise Falls. As the orderlies come to take Carl to the senior center, he takes flight in his house. As he peacefully begins his journey to Paradise Falls he discovers he has an unintentional stowaway, named Russell (Nagai). Reluctant about his new passenger, Carl still presses forward to continue his life-long dream to call Paradise Falls home. Of course, this is only the beginning since there are many stumbling blocks along the way that Carl must overcome in order to get to his final destination.

I saw this movie in theaters in 3D with my wife and we were impressed at the presentation overall. I have a personal disdain for gimmicky three-dimensional effects that are thrown in simply just because. What really impressed the both of us initially with this movie is that it never distracts. I am a firm believer that things like the video aspect, audio mix, or any extra additional feature, like 3D, should not distract, hinder, or in any way detract from the film itself. After adjusting to the 3D aspect in theaters, I nearly forgot about the 3D, to me that is a very good thing. The 3D elements and the 3D aspect of the film never called attention like many films I’ve seen before have. All it did was add to the depth of field and especially for the balloons carrying the house itself.

Rating

‘Up’ is rated PG for some peril and action. Truthfully, I didn’t find anything that I would object to showing even my two and half year old daughter. The story itself may not be as appealing to the little crowd, but otherwise I would think this is safe for nearly all ages.

Video

Each release that I’ve seen of theirs has just been absolutely stunning and ‘Up’ is certainly no different. I just can’t imagine Pixar making a bad-looking transfer. ‘Up’ sports a 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a 1080p/AVC Mpeg-4 transfer that is just stunning from start to finish. From the gorgeous iridescent feathers on Kevin, to the eye-popping colored balloons, all the way to the subtle multi-colored house itself, the colors really never ceased to amaze me. Throughout the film I was just stunned at how vibrant the colors looked. Even with those elements mentioned interwoven into this film the overall presentation still retains a naturalistic color pallet, never over saturating and more importantly never deterring from the film itself. Resolution and detail are as to be expected from a direct-to-digital print of the film; essentially perfect. Foliage and distant landscapes contain so much beautifully crafted detail and even up close you get to appreciate fine details. Especially noticeable are the feathers on Kevin, the fur dogs, or the stubble on the square-jawed Carl.

The contrast of the film was almost equally impressive, too. Contrast is never excessive which lends again to the beautiful colors. Black levels are inky and shadow detail is immaculate. During the darkest lit scenes visual detail is still perfectly discernable. I was even quite impressed during the darker scenes at how beautiful the image still looked. The contrast really lends itself to the depth of the image, too. In regards to the image depth itself, even though this release is not in 3D, the depth holds up extraordinarily well. Shading and lighting really are beautifully done and I really have to give a hand to the Pixar animation team for the exquisite job that they did. This is one of the few animated movies that I forgot actually was animated while watching and because of that I have the utmost respect for Pixars team.

Audio

*A note worth mentioning is the box states that this film has a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, but when I watched the movie it actually flagged and engaged as 6.1 on my Denon pre/pro. As such I will likely refer to this track as 6.1 instead of the marked 5.1 that the box says.

I think the key to this film is subtlety and that description is no different for how I would label the wonderful DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 track. The sound designers that have been contracted for the Pixar movies have always impressed me. After having watched several bombastic movies in the last several weeks, it was a really nice change of pace to have an audio mix like the one on this disc. The sound is not lacking in any regard, it’s just a different style than movies like ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ or ‘G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra’. To me, a subtle audio mix is equally impressive as an all-out-assault-on-your-senses-type mix.

When I was purposefully paying attention to the surround sound activity, I noticed a lot of atmospheric noises and echoes. Ambient nuances and support to the wonderful musical score provided by Michael Giacchino really drive the surround activity. There are occasional portions where panning effects are present, but they still remain subtle whenever they occur.

About the only portion of the audio that isn’t always subtle are the low frequency effects, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t subtle at all, because it was. Throughout the film, especially when seeing the house looming overhead there was a certain weight that accompanied and provided by the bass. There are just several occasions that the low frequencies are impressively authoritative. Several instances where the crack and pound of thunder or Carl’s house crashes or lands are the things the instantly come to mind of room-shaking bass.

I wanted to comment further on Michael Giacchino’s score. He has really been put to work in the last few years and really has done some amazing work. It’s interesting to see the contrast in soundtracks that he does; from heavy-laden scores like the television show ‘Lost’, or the score for ‘Mission: Impossible 3’ all the way to the blissfully pleasant score provided for ‘Up’. It’s really amazing to listen to his work and the theme that he created is a perfect match to the film.

Extras

Pixar has really gone above and beyond with the extras for this disc. In fact, it’s not only this disc, I noticed the massive amounts of extras that come for their movies really makes them worth the money you spend on them.

Here’s a list of what you get:

-Visual commentary track with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
-‘Partly Cloudy’ – the animated short that was shown in accompaniment to the movie in the theaters.
-‘Dug’s Special Mission’ – A new animated short just for the video release of this movie. I found this to be actually amusing.
-‘Adventure is Out There!’ – A documentary for Pixar’s research for this movie.
-‘The Many Endings of Muntz’ – the creation of the deaths of Charles Muntz that Pixar came up with.
-‘Alternate Scene: Married Life’ – this featurette provides a deeper look into the creation of the first twenty minutes of the movie with Ellie and Carl.
-‘Geriatric Hero’ – Short documentary on why they chose to make a movie about a senior citizen as a main character
-‘Canine Companions’ – Short documentary following the research that went into bringing all the dogs in ‘Up’ to life.
-‘Russell: Wilderness Explorer’ – Short documentary on creating the character Russell.
-‘Our Flightless Friend Kevin’ – Short documentary showing the creation of the bird named Kevin in the movie.
-‘Homemakers of Pixar’ – Short documentary on the making of the Fredricksen’s home. I found this one particular interesting because Carl and Ellie’s home really feels like an addition character in this film.
-‘Balloons and Flight’ – Documentary on what it took to just create the balloons that carried the Fredricksen’s home throughout the movie.
-‘Composing for Characters’ – Short documentary on the wonderful music of Michael Giacchino.
-‘Up’ Promo Montage – just a bunch of promotional content that Pixar used for this film, including a handful of trailers
-‘Global Guardian Board Game’ – a game that can be played interactively, but it seems as though this is limited to those who have BD-Live capable players and are connected to the internet.

Along with that, Disney/Pixar has also included a standard definition DVD of the film itself and a Digital Copy of the movie to put on your computer. All in all, four discs packed full of ‘content’ that really makes this movie just that much more worth the money.

Overall

‘Up’ came as a bit of a surprise to me, although I almost shouldn’t have because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every movie Pixar has made to date. When ‘Up’ was initially released I certainly was skeptical at how Pixar would make such an outlandish story connect with the audience. Fortunately, ‘Up’ seems to captivate the audience on so many levels and truthfully has become one of my favorite films of all time. Also, the humor in this movie is wonderful, too. My wife and I laughed quite a bit throughout the film when we saw it in theaters and even upon second viewing for my review here, the humor still managed to make me laugh despite knowing what was coming anyway. Speaking on humor I must also comment on the range of emotion for this movie in general. Not only did I laugh, I ended up welling up in sadness on a couple occasions during the movie. The fantastic audio and video portions of this disc are an excellent addition to this movie, but, to me, they are secondary to my enjoyment of the film itself.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

Last edited by Jon Liu; 11-22-09 at 09:49 PM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 11-22-09, 03:15 AM
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

This is a Must for my Blu-ray collection. Another Masterpiece from Pixar.

* TY for the review Jon, you did a very good job.
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post #3 of 16 Old 11-22-09, 10:23 AM
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

Yep... I missed this one. Thanks for the review... looks very interesting.

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post #4 of 16 Old 11-22-09, 11:19 AM
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

Great review Jon, and another outstanding Disney Pixar movie
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post #5 of 16 Old 11-22-09, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

I must say, the extra features on these discs were actually very enjoyable for me to watch. I am not usually one to really enjoy watching extras, but I do watch them regularly anyway, but I really found a lot of these ones insightful. Not only do they add to the overall value of the discs, but they really added value and a lot more depth to the film itself.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #6 of 16 Old 11-25-09, 06:18 PM
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

I missed this in general theatrical release, but snapped it up the day the BR disc came out. I found the first part of the film very moving. In fact, I stopped when Ellie died and went back and watched it again. I was really touched by their relationship so much that it made me think about my own and things I need to do while I can.

I throughly enjoyed the rest of the movie, and it is a beautifully rendered work.
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post #7 of 16 Old 11-25-09, 07:34 PM
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

Its amasing that Pixar can portray such emotion using animation. This movie really does tug at the heart strings.

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Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #8 of 16 Old 11-27-09, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

It really is. They are one of the only film studios that CONSISTENTLY puts out movies that will move me. This one just especially got to me!

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #9 of 16 Old 11-27-09, 07:14 PM
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

The kids LOVE this movie... They wont stop seeing ot over and over and over...
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post #10 of 16 Old 11-27-09, 07:44 PM
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Re: Up - Blu-ray Review

And the older kids too...
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