- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit); English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit); French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: PG
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Disney-Pixar
- Release Date: November 10, 2009
- List Price: $34.98
Overall The Film Video Quality Audio Quality Supplemental Materials
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG and thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Pixar challenged the prevailing wisdom of what children need out of animation with their dialogue-free first act in WALL●E. The idea that animated films were required to be loud, blundering affairs, with numerous site-gags, celebrity voices, and paper-thin stories in order to be successful was thankfully set aside for a more scaled back approach. The quiet courtship of WALL●E and EVA laid the groundwork for what was to come from Pixar and that the film was so successful meant that Pixar was free to explore even further their artistic muse.
Up’s opening is similarly quiet and laid back, but even more complex and mature than WALL●E. We see Carl Fredrickson, a quiet young boy, befriended by the tomboy Ellie. The two strike up a growing friendship through their enthrallment with the explorer Charles Muntz, promise each other to go on their own adventures together down to South America, and visit the magical Paradise Falls. But they fall in love, and in a silent sequence we see their entire lives together, as they marry, build a house, work together, and, in one especially touching moment, find out they can’t have children. Eventually Ellie dies, and we see Carl (Ed Asner), now in his seventies, alone and feeling the despair that he never gave his beloved Ellie the adventure he promised her. His house is now surrounded by construction and a developer wants his land, but he won’t give it up. One day, he has an unfortunate confrontation with a construction worker and he is declared a public menace. Defiant to the end, Carl ties thousands of helium balloons to his house and flies it away before he can be taken away to the Shady Oaks Retirement Home, only to find he has an unexpected stowaway — a chubby eight-year-old boy named Russell (Jordan Nagai).
Together the two head off for South America for a new adventure, to head for Paradise Falls; Carl, literally dragging his past in the form of his house behind him and Russell desperately trying to earn one last Wilderness Badge for “assisting the elderly” in the hopes that it will bring his father back. The two of them both have holes in their hearts that need filling, and perhaps this adventure is just what they need.
In South America, the tone of Up lightens up just a bit, as the two come across Dug, a sort of golden retriever/labrador with an electronic collar that allows him to speak his feelings and a female bird named Kevin that is being chased by a pack of trained dogs, also with talking collars, that turn out to be owned by none other than the adventurer Charles Muntz (Christopher Muntz). It’s another turning point for Carl, however, when things quickly turn dangerous, and he ends up in a confrontation with his childhood idol.
The changing moods and slight inconsistencies in style keep Up from being quite on the same level as previous Pixar fare such as Ratatouille and WALL●E, but the opening act alone is enough to make it one of the best films of 2009. If Up doesn’t make you cry, then you are dead inside. This is more proof from the brilliant storytellers and animators at Pixar that animation doesn’t have to pander to the lowest common denominator and that it is truly a respectable, intelligent art form worthy of the highest consideration. It’s about time films like these were nominated for Oscars in the general categories and not relegated to simply “Best Animated Feature.”
Pixar is a master of CGI animation and when their films make it to Blu-ray, they usually look absolutely stunning; Up is no exception. The film’s digital source arrives on Blu-ray in a 1.78:11080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding that looks as clear as Waterford crystal with immaculate detail right down to individual strands of fur on Dug’s coat or the texture of the sash that holds Russell’s badges. Colors are radiant, blacks are inky, contrast doesn’t clip and there are no artifacts to be found. This is reference quality material all around.
Up’s soundtrack has been given the lossless treatment with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix. The mix is quite active, though not as aggressive as some other Pixar films, such as Wall●E, but there is still sufficient discrete activity in the surround channels, lots of ambience and plenty of low frequency extension. The dialogue is clean and never lost, not even in the most hyperactive portions of the film, and dynamic range is very wide, ranging from mellow to downright jet engine-level, or so it seemed. This is definitely the sort of mix one could use to show off their sound system.
Up has been loaded with extras, just as we have all come to expect by now from any Disney-Pixar release worth its salt. There are the quirky yet enjoyable animated shorts and a host of behind-the-scenes featurettes with the Pixar team all provided in 1080p. In fact, there is enough material offered here to keep kids and adults alike entertained for hours.
The supplements provided on this release are:
- Partly Cloudy: Theatrical Short (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1) — In this animated short, on cloud’s creations for his stork too deliver to their happy parents are just a little on the dangerous side.
- Dug’s Special Mission: All New Short (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1) — Dug is tormented by his pack with difficult missions, but he comes out the winner in the end.
- Adventure is Out There (1.78:1; 1080p/24) — The Pixar team discusses scouting on location in remote areas of South America for their inspiration.
- Alternate Scene: The Many Endings of Muntz (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
- Documentaries — In these behind-the-scenes featurettes and interview segments, the Pixar team discusses developing the different characters, set designs, music, and storylines for the film:
- Geriatric Hero (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:06.24)
- Canine Companions (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:08.26)
- Russell: Wilderness Explorer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:09.03)
- Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:05.04)
- Homemakers of Pixar (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:04.38)
- Balloons and Flight (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:06.27)
- Composing for Characters (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:07.37)
- Alternate Scene: Married Life (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:09.13)
- Up Promo Montage (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:05.52)
- Global Guardian Badge Game (Powered by BD-Live) — This BD-Live powered game allows you to travel the globe with your balloon in order to answer multiple-choice questions and win your Wilderness Explorer badges.
- Worldwide Trailers:
- Theatrical Trailer #2 (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Theatrical Trailer #3 (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Standard definition DVD of Up.
- Up digital copy for Mac/PC and iTunes/Windows Media-compatible portable devices.
The Definitive Word
Pixar seems to be unstoppable. I always look forward to their next animated adventure like no other studio out there. Not every one of their films always reaches the same heights, no pun intended, but they are always a very high quality with strong stories to back up their brilliant animation. Up falls into this category. It may not be as evenly thought out and delivered as something like Ratatouille, but it is sweet and endearing in its own way and certainly powerful.
The Blu-ray release captures the film flawlessly and this release comes highly recommended on all counts.