Our lives are all what we make them out to be and the choices that we decide upon help mold our fate so we take a particular path which is supposedly not predetermined. Living life day by day and hoping that the decisions we make end up being what is best for us and what will not only make life easiest for us but also enjoyable. Finding the job that we can handle and somewhat enjoy while staying sane and bringing in enough money to make it. Knowing exactly what vacations to take so that we get the most entertainment out of our buck after saving all year for it. Finding the right one so that we may live our life with the one and only we truly are in love with. We do all the things we think are right and just when we get to where we want to be; someone or something tries to change that. But what if we don’t want to change?
Carl Frederickson (voice of Ed Asner) is a man that has always had dreams of becoming an explorer and experiencing the world around him. That is evident by the interest he has had in world renowned adventurer Charles Muntz who Carl has admired even since he was a little boy. Knowing his dreams were nothing more then that though, Carl lived as normal a life as he could with his wife Ellie whom he was married to for almost seven decades before her death. When she died, Carl realized that the world had grown up around him mighty fast and he was not willing to change just because he was alone. Surrounded by large skyscrapers and with only his old house to appease him, Carl comes up with an idea that will get him and his curmudgeonly old self away from the fast-paced world that now bordered him on all sides.
With an idea that is straight out of a science fiction book, Carl attaches thousands of helium balloons to his old home in hopes of lifting it right up off the ground and into the air. His intention is to sail to South Africa and meet up with his idol, Muntz and oddly enough…it works. Carl’s house lifts right up off of its foundation and he is ready for a trip halfway around the world. Only Carl isn’t alone as he had hoped as a stowaway in the shape of a pudgy Wilderness Explorer named Russell looking to earn his “Help The Elderly” badge was on the porch as the house went airborne. Together the odd couple must find some common ground and learn to get along with one another and the interesting creatures they meet along the way including a talking dog named Dug and a female bird named Kevin. Yes, Kevin. Carl and Russell are from two different ends of the age spectrum, but there is a lot they can learn about life from one another on their great journey up in the sky.
What a fantastic film. I mean it. There are just so many connections to my favorite Pixar film, Finding Nemo, that Up is easily competing for the top spot in my list. One of the greatest things the film does is not just jump right into the story and actually makes you care about the characters you’ll be watching for an hour and a half. First of all is a beautiful and tragically heart-rendering story about the love between Carl and Ellie including their life together before her death. This beginning will give you a great view of just who exactly is Carl Frederickson and make you hate him then love him and everything in between. Russell is just overly lovable and you’ll be infatuated with him from the moment his chubby cheeks hit the screen. Throw in some other fantastic characters such as Kevin and Dug as Pixar always does and it makes the film complete. You just can’t help but love and associate with whoever bounds into the Up next.
One of the greatest things about Up is that it not only is there for entertainment value but it is a fantastic lesson in life. The differences in age between Russell and Carl are things that many people see today in life and automatically write off those that may be incredibly influential for them. Through methods of understanding and even humor, the two learn to accept the flaws and unique qualities that they each have en route to truly caring for one another. Just like Nemo was a lesson in family and never taking for granted those that you have close to you, Up makes you look at your friends and other people in the world and letting you know to never judge a book by its cover. It may seem like an old cliché, but it still rings true at all times.
The film is shown in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it is simply gorgeous as is to be expected. Every minute detail you could think of in a film involving real human beings is shown here in Up through the magic of CGI. All colors are crisp, bright, dull when necessary, and just absolutely perfect.
The film is heard in Double Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it is also fantastic. Dialogue can be heard clearly and loudly at all times even though the soundtrack and sound effects are boisterous and vibrant. The surrounding speakers know when to kick it in or dial it down so that everything can be heard without overlapping or being drowned out.
Dug’s Special Mission – Dug gets his own animated short that is really funny and well worth watching. It essentially lets us know a little bit more about Dug before he ends up meeting with Russell and Carl. (4:40)
Partly Cloudy – This is the short film that ran in theatres before Up. With this and “Dug’s Special Mission,” it’s evident that another animated short collection is soon due from Pixar. (5:49)
Cine-Explore Audio Commentary – A fun and unique way to watch the film that intersperses sketches, storyboards, and other bits of extra footage while directors Bob Peterson and Pete Docter do the commentary track. Both men give an insane amount of information throughout the duration that deals with the story as well as things that went on during the film’s creation. You’re going to end up watching Up multiple times so you might as well check it out at least once with this track playing. You’ll learn a lot more then you ever thought you would.
The Many Endings Of Muntz – Getting rid of the bad guy in a Disney film is obviously not as easy a task as just writing it down on paper and creating it. The filmmakers discuss how many different ways they had come up with to dispose of Muntz and why they eventually chose the method of getting rid of him. (4:56)
Adventure Is Out There – Here is your “making of” featurette and it is anything but basic or like what you get on most other home releases. Never would I have imagined just how much research and time went into making an animated film so picture perfect, but this feature proves me wrong. The crew went on journeys that would not only be educational, but would help them create Up in the utmost realism. (22:18)
Geriatric Hero – Carl is the perfect old man and this feature takes a look at just how the filmmakers captured his ripe old age without error. (6:24)
Canine Companions – Animals seem hard enough to deal with when it comes to putting them into film and getting them to do exactly what needs to be done. Even if an animal is trained to the utmost perfection, animals are often unpredictable. Dug may seem a bit easier since he was a computer generated character, but the filmmakers wanted again to make him very real so studying animals and their behaviors took a lot of time and research. This is a great feature and it’s awesome to see just how close they got with the animals. (8:26)
Russell: Wilderness Explorer – It’s now time to look at our pudgy little ball of fun, Russell and how he was brought into existence. Voice actor Jordan Nagal was studied closely so that his actions could be duplicated onto the screen. Nagal’s voice also needed to be dictated perfectly as well in order to have it seem realistic when coming from the face of Russell. (9:00)
Balloon And Fight Dirigibles – A look back in time at the way flight used to be through simplistic air travel. It would have been nice to see this feature get a bit more time here because it truly is fascinating learning about the different methods of flight and how balloons paved the way. (6:25)
Homemakers Of Pixar – Characters like Russell, Carl, and Dug play such huge parts in the film; most people forget about one of the largest characters of them all…Carl’s house. This feature delves into how Carl’s house was made as integral a part of Up as those characters with speaking roles. (4:38)
Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin – It may not be exactly evident just what the amazing character of Kevin is, but the filmmakers show here that time was spent with ostriches for inspiration. Kevin might just be my favorite character from the film so it’s nice to see her get her own time. (5:04)
Composing For Characters – Michael Giacchino shows just how brilliant a composer he is in this featurette devoted to his masterful musical score. The music of Up plays just as important a part as the story, the characters, and the animation because it helps set the mood and pull the viewers in even deeper. Great piece. (7:37)
Up Promo Montage – A marketing frenzy. (6:00)
Alternate Scene: Married Life – Carl’s venture into love wasn’t always intended to be so heart twisting as is evident by this alternate more comedic look at it. I believe the right choice was made by choosing the finished scene over this one. (9:13)
Global Guardian Badge Game – Who doesn’t like seeing how much they know about the geography of the world? This game lets players guess as many places around the world as they can in a given amount of time.
DVD Version Of Up
DisneyFile Digital Copy
For the first time since Finding Nemo swam onto the big screen, a Pixar film has now touched me in the same way that the little clown fish and his father did. Up may seem like a simple story on the outside but it is very thorough and deep which will generate an entire host of emotions. It will make you laugh, cry, get mad, and so much more in just a short hour and a half. Up is amazing in not only its miraculous story but also the beauty of its simplicity made into complexity. I know that may sound confusing but you just need to watch it to fully understand what I’m getting at and also how good it really is. The special features continue the great journey with deeper looks into each of the main characters so that we may grow even closer to them. Don’t miss out on one of the best Pixar films made and quite possibly one of the films of the year period. And there’s no better way to do it then with this awesome, gigantic Blu-ray four-disc set.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Up. Directed by: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson. Starring (voices): Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, and many more. Written by: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson. Running time: 96 minutes on 4 discs. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: November 10, 2009. Available at Amazon.com