Blu-ray Review: Up (3-Disc Special Edition)

It would appear another Pixar film has grown on me after seeing it in theaters. Previously Ratatouille disappointed me in theaters only to become one of my favorite Pixar films along with WALL•E and Finding Nemo. WALL•E is probably the only Pixar film to truly knock me out in theaters as the hyperbole surrounding the famed animation studio’s films is so over-bearing I tend to find myself falling for these films once the waters die down, and it appears the same has happened with Pixar’s tenth feature film, Up.

Of course, I already gave the film a “B+” in ranking the first ten Pixar films. So, to say the film has grown on me doesn’t give it much more room to go, but there it is, and once again Pixar and Disney have put together an impressive package and in Blu-ray high definition it looks outstanding.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this release is that the option of watching the film on 3-D at home isn’t even offered. Of all things, Pixar is a studio that demands a quality presentation and a half-assed 3-D presentation at home would have done nothing for the value of this release. I actually saw the film in 3-D in theaters and in my review suggested audiences seek out the 2-D version as opposed to wasting your time with a gimmick that only detracts from the story, an element of Pixar films that always outshines everything else.

Like last year’s release of WALL•E on Blu-ray, the package presented here is exceptionally lean and without an fluff. The commentary track with co-directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson is presented in Cine-Explore which not only includes an insightful commentary but included bonuses such as concept art, storyboards and archived videos. They address details such as the transparency of the balloons propelling Carl’s house up-and-up, pointing out how they change due to the normal lifespan of a balloon as well as being a reflection of Carl’s emotional state. It is still a bit of a question as to how many balloons are actually on Carl’s house at their peak as the commentary tells us 10,297, but subsequent features tell us 10,286. Little tidbits like this and added trivia such as the original story involving a potential Fountain of Youth angle, all make for a lot of fun.

The first disc also includes the theatrical short “Partly Cloudy,” which I was happy to finally see since it was unfortunately not included on the print of Up I watched for review. It’s just as entertaining as those we’ve seen in the past and is now included with a second short called “Dug’s Special Mission,” an animated short featuring the film’s talking canine Dug and the “mission” he was on leading up to his introduction in the film. (A clip from “Dug’s Special Mission” is included just to the right.)

Next are a pair of first disc featurettes, the first called “Adventure is Out There” showing the Pixar gang as they head out to explore the terrain that would soon become the setting for Paradise Falls and the second is called “The Many Endings of Muntz” which is rather self explanatory if you’ve seen the film. The first disc concludes with a hidden feature called “The Egg” if you just hit left on your remote from the main menu, which goes further into the Fountain of Youth story I already referenced and also features an abandoned set of storyboards.

Disc two contains approximately 52 minutes of short documentaries ranging from four-and-a-half minutes to nine minutes each, covering the film’s approach to old age, dogs, Russell, Kevin the bird, the house, the mechanics of the balloons and Michael Giacchino’s score. All of these are short, to the point and are over before you know it. This is one of the things I love about Pixar, they don’t beat around the bush. There is an understanding that time is valuable and if you take too long to tell us what you want us to hear the audience will soon get bored and drown it all out.

There’s also a look at an alternate “Married Life” montage, or the scene without dialogue at the opening of the film detailing the life of Carl and Ellie. The primary focus of this one included a lot of punching and I think they made the right decision in going with the more emotional option and saving the laughs for elsewhere. This is a very subtle film when it comes to a lot of the laughs and that same subtlety proves valuable here.

Next is a montage of Up promos which include a lot of very short videos that appear to be product tie-ins and finally features such as the Adventures of Carl and Russell, which were also shown online such as this one right here.

Rounding out the second disc is a playable geography game and the third disc includes a digital copy.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of this release and don’t see how a Pixar film on Blu-ray isn’t an instant buy. So far six of Pixar’s ten films are on Blu-ray and I suggest you buy them all and be sure to start with WALL•E and Ratatouille and then make Up next on that list. The picture is flawless and the features are just the right amount.

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