Blu-Ray Review: Disney-Pixar’s Up

Up Movie ReviewCan you believe it’s November already? I can’t believe it’s November already. October flew by like a house on balloons, and now it’s the all-important time of year where the holiday decorations come out and the movies start vying for the oh-so-coveted end-of-year awards. Practically a shoe-in for Best Animated Picture of 2009, and perhaps a Best Picture nominee given that the Oscars are now nominating 10 films in that category (so far, there hasn’t been much to choose from), Up comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on November 10, 2009.

One of the most financially and critically successful films of the year, Up is a surefire must-see if there ever was one. Sure, it’s animated, but it’s a Pixar film, which means that it’s good. It’s really good. In fact, after a couple of great movies that skewed toward slightly older audiences (Wall-E, Ratatouille), Disney-Pixar has returned with a movie that blends classic animated adventure and heartfelt sincerity. The movie is also one of their funniest to date. Surprised? No, I didn’t think so.

This review covers the four-disc Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack that Disney sells, and it has a lot of great features to feast your eyes on, though not so many that they’re overwhelming. Disc 1, aside from the feature film, does not start off on a good note, however, as I immediately gravitated to a made-for-this-release short called Dug’s Special Mission. The short is easily the lamest and worst animated short I’ve ever seen Pixar make. It’s terrible. Thankfully, the hilarious short that played with the movie in theaters – Partly Cloudy – wipes the foul taste away.

The other features on disc one include Cine-Explore, an informative making-of documentary that has some of the crew, including the directors, venturing into Venezuela, and The Many Endings of Muntz, which looks at other ways the filmmakers planned to end the villain’s story. Cine-Explore is pretty entertaining for two reasons: 1) we get to see the unique mountains that serve as a setting for the movie, and 2) we get to see the crew freak out about their interaction with nature, which apparently is foreign to them. I’m sure a 3,000-foot climb could be grueling, but the crew consistently acts like they’re at the edge of death and were being forced to climb Mt. Everest and live through horrific rainstorms. Clearly they’d never stepped foot outside of LA before, because what is shown on camera does not look that harrowing. Still, I’m jealous of the awesome places they went. As for the various endings of Muntz, it’s good they went with the ending that’s in the film, but it’s interesting to see the other, less tragic endings they considered.

The second disc includes a badge game that I didn’t play, a feature on Married Life, which shows an alternate/expanded view of Carl and Elle’s relationship (including a rather odd punching montage) and eight documentaries that focus on various aspects of the film. The documentaries are all pretty interesting as we get to see the voice behind Russell and how the directors evoked a strong, believable performance out of him, as well as inspirations for different parts of the story. The documentaries are great to watch as they aren’t at all promotional in nature; the only downside was I couldn’t figure out a way to play them all in sequence versus manually selecting each one.

There are a few other standard features included on the discs, including trailers, et cetera.

The Up four-disc Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack is an excellent choice this holiday season for two reasons: 1) the movie is one of the best of the year, and 2) the special features are interesting.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: DVD Releases, Movie Reviews