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"Up"- (Deluxe 4 disc Blu-ray Edition)
Wayne Klein
Studio: Buena Vista Home Video/Walt Disney
Release Date:
Special Features:

"Partly Cloudy" - Theatrical short; Cine-Explore - The making of Up with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson; The many endings of Muntz - Alternate scenes; Global Guardian Badge Game - A multilayered geography game; Married Life - Expanded character back story; 8 all new documentaries - Including "Adventure Is Out There" - Travel to the real Paradise Falls; DVD bonus features


Why does "Up" fall down? It could simply be exhaustion on the part of Pixar after producing a series of top notch quality animated classics but that drop in quality didn't start with "Up" the studio's latest release but not least in quality. It seems that starting with "Monsters, Inc." Pixar began to slide towards predictable family entertainment that was better than everything else out there but just couldn't compare to the one-two punch of "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life". Add the third punch of the successful "Toy Story 2" and you'd expect the studio to continue to throw series of strong hits that would knock out both critics and moviegoers alike. ***

"Up" isn't as weak as "Cars" (probably the nadir to date of Pixar releases although it had its moments as well) and while the film is very inventive and touching it lacks the groundbreaking qualities that made the studios first four length feature films so spectacular. In fact, I'd dare say that the studio reached its peak with "The Incredibles" the best film to come out of Pixar and one that set the bar very, very high for other studios. ***

Ed Asner plays a 78 year old Carl Fredericksen a cranky retired zoo worker who used to be a balloon vendor. He's faced his fair share of disappointments including the devasting loss of his wife before they ever had the chance to travel the world as they'd hoped. That along with the disappointment of having no children of his own, a highrise company that's pressuring him to sell convinces him to get away from it all and take his house with him. He uses balloons to life his home into the sky to avoid being committed to an assisted living facility. His adventure takes a wrong turn when he discovers Russell (Jordan Nagai) a wilderness explorer committed to helping Carl has been taken along for the ride. During their journey they discover that they need each other more than they thought particularly when he encounter a menacing explorer (Christopher Plummer) who was an idol of Carl's when he was a boy. ---

Image & Sound:

"Up" like all of Pixar's releases receives a stellar looking transfer. Colors are bold, detail remarkably clear and I couldn't detect any digital artifacts in the image worth noting. "Up" looks as good as humanly possible and was transferred to Blu-ray directly from the original digital files of the film. I'm disappointed that we don't get the option to see this in 3D (although the use of 3D effects weren't over-the-top it was nicely used in the film) but I'm not surprised given that there hasn't been an adqueate way to present 3D on TV with the clarity and crispness of a theatrical presentation. ***

The 5.1 mix sounds marvelous with plenty of detail, clear dialogue and the lossless presentation gives the music plenty of wiggle room when it comes to dynamic range. ---

Special Features:

We get a new short faturing one of the main characters of the film Dug (Bob Peterson) a dog who can speak with the help of technology with a good heart but not much in the way of brains. We also get "Partly Cloudy" another theatrical short as well. We also get a visual commentary track featuring co-directors Peter Docter and Bob Petersen discussing the making of the film. It's informative, entertaining and worth watching. ***

"The Many Endings of Muntz" gives us alternate scenes for the film. We also get the "Global Guardian Badge Game" a solid and entertaining game that allows playersr to practice their geography skills. Add in 8 documentaries that give a complete exploration of the project from conception to final eexecution and you have about as complete a glimpse behind-the-scenes as one is likely to get unless you work at Pixar. ***

Finally we get a DVD edition of the film which is always a nice bonus particularly for parents on a long drive--it allows the kids to be entertained and doesn't force the parent to try and pirate the Blu-ray and convert it into a DVD-R. Disney's been quite good about including these in many of their latest releases and it makes better sense than having just the digital files which often require an activation code and expire after a period of time. ---

Final Words:

"Up" does take the audience into the wild blue yonder for an entertaining adventure and while it doesn't quite reach the high bar set by films like "The Incredibles", "Toy Story", "Toy Story 2" and "A Bug's Life" it also doesn't descent to the quality of the studio's worst feature film "Cars". Perhaps fatigue has set in at Pixar when it comes to the story department more than likely though this is an example of a film that is a midway point towards bigger and better achievements that will carry fans away in style similar to the studio's original offerings. Recommended.


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