upblurayStudio: Disney Pixar
Year: 2009
Release Date: November 10, 2009
Run time: 96 minutes
Rating: G

Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 2 BD50/1 DVD/1 Digital Copy
Region: A

At a time when too many animated films consist of anthropomorphized animals cracking sitcom one-liners and flatulence jokes, the warmth, originality, humor, and unflagging imagination of Up feel as welcome as rain in a desert. Carl Fredericksen (voice by Ed Asner) ranks among the most unlikely heroes in recent animation history. A 78- year-old curmudgeon, he enjoyed his modest life as a balloon seller because he shared it with his adventurous wife Ellie (Ellie Docter). But she died, leaving him with memories and the awareness that they never made their dream journey to Paradise Falls in South America.

Pixar has found a home with Disney and really the only other studio to come close in quality is DreamWorks Animation but they are not at the same level yet. Pixar has some inventive and importantly timeless spirit in computer animation. In UP, a tale of loneliness and friendship is told in a simple, heartfelt way. This is one of the best films of the year and puts other live action films to shame.

Carl begins as an adventure-loving boy whose childhood friendship with a girl, Ellie, grows into a marriage as adults and a dream to visit their ideal destination, Paradise Falls in South America. Later widowed, Carl becomes a crusty, elderly man who longs for escape. In time, his neighborhood is transformed into an urban development, and one fateful day with the threat of being committed to a retirement community, he takes his house on a bold, unlikely trip by balloons through the skies to South America. Unfortunately, he discovers an accidental passenger in the form of a Boy Scout named Russell who is looking to get his final merit badge by helping a senior citizen. Carl must make a momentous decision that changes his life and affects Russell. Their joint flight arrives somewhere in the vicinity of Paradise Falls. Along the way they encounter an unusual, giant bird dubbed Kevin and a dog named Dug whose thoughts are vocalized through his special electronic collar. This motley group encounters a mysterious, dangerous presence that threatens them and jeopardizes Carl’s journey to his final destination.

What makes this film head and shoulders above most animations is its poignant confrontation of life’s ups and downs. It’s about life and death told in terms that are not disingenuous. In the grand tradition of Disney classics as Bambi and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, movies about finding a safe place from danger are at the core of children’s animation, and this film plays on that tradition. The novelty here is that the lead character is elderly. There is a sense of The Wizard of Oz in its otherworldly journey of discovery and camaraderie, and even the climax smacks of Saturday morning cliffhangers. A nice change of pace is the lack of contemporary, inside jokes or puns based on pop culture that are staples of such Dreamworks hits as the Shrek films. The situations here are organically amusing from natural conflicts and plot.

This has to be one of the best films that I have ever seen live action and animation. Between the story and the amazing 3D animation this is an amazing piece of work. This is the kind of film that will make you laugh throughout and times where you will be sad and even shed a tear. It really puts life into retrospect, making you think about your current life and what is important to you and what is not.
Movie Quality: 10/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I thought titles like ‘Wall-E’ and the recently released Disney/Pixar catalog title ‘Monster’s Inc.’ were technical wonders. I will say that this is the most visually impressive animations on Blu-ray. Color management is very well done making the image just pop off the screen. When I mean colorful, blues, red’s, and yellow’s stand out the most with a nice mixture of brown’s thrown in the mix. I even found the green’s from the vegetation to almost look realistic. Blacks are inky and very deep. I felt at times when the balloons were holding up the house in the sky that it looked like a photo realistic image from afar. There are no 3D glasses needed here to make this film look as good as it does or make the image look 3D. Pixar may have finally achieved 3D animation without the need for 3D glasses.
Video Quality: 10/10

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. This is mainly a film with dialogue pushing the center channel which is crisp and clear. When the surrounds are used with sound effects such as lightning strikes, noises from the animals, and the soundtrack this packs a punch. With this being a story driven film, the audio is perfect for what it tries to achieve. There will be no disappointments at all.
Audio Quality: 9.5/10

Special Features

  • Partly Cloudy short film [HD]
  • Dug’s Mission [HD]
  • Adventure Out There [HD]
  • Alternate Scenes Ending of Muntz [HD]
  • How-to on using the Digital
  • Cine Explore
  • Screen Saver
  • Geriatric Hero [HD]
  • Canine Companions [HD]
  • Russel Wild Explorer [HD]
  • Kevin (bird) [HD]
  • Homemakers Pixar [HD]
  • Balloons and Flight [HD]
  • Composing for Characters [HD]
  • Global Guardian Badge Game
  • Alternate Scene – Married Life [HD]
  • The Egg [HD]
  • Filmmakers Round Table [HD]

Special Features: 9.5/10

Final Thoughts

Disney/Pixar has knocked yet another one out of the ballpark with ‘Up’ which is probably their best work to date. The picture quality is the first Blu-ray that I would give the rating above a 10 near the 12 range. Call me a crazy reviewer, but this movie is something special that the whole family could enjoy. Special features are abundant here and more in high def than in standard definition. ‘Up’ is well worth adding to your collection as it has excellent replay value. This is one of the few films that made me shed a tear a few times throughout.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10