Here’s the thing, reviewing a Pixar movie is like describing different levels of excellence. You essentially run out different ways of using phrases such as “pinnacle of storytelling” or “suberb characterizations” or “perfectly plotted story” or just plain “freaking excellent.” And, seriously, let me know of any film studio that’s released even three perfect films in a row, much less the ten that Pixar has given us over the last fourteen years. I keep wondering each film if this will be the one where the shine finally rubs off and a little wear and tear shows itself. After last year’s WALL-E I figured they had reached their heights and would be finally plateauing before their inevitable slide. Little did I know they had nowhere else to go but UP.
If you’re reading this review of the DVD version then you’ve already seen the film and, unless you really are cold-hearted, you love it. I already gushed about this film back in May, so I’ll spare you. You’re really here to find out what’s on the DVD. I was sent a copy of the four-disc Blu-ray combo pack to review. Fortunately, Disney has kept up their intelligent decision of packaging the standard DVD disc with the Blu-ray. I haven’t switch to the high definition disc format yet, but these combo packs still give me plenty to talk about. The full specs are listed below, but the DVD itself still has plenty to offer.
The theatrical short, Partly Cloudy is first on the list. Once again Pixar demonstrates they can out storytell anyone without even using dialogue.
As has become tradition on the studio’s DVD releases there is second short focusing on characters from the film. This time we get Dug’s Special Mission, which occurs just prior to the talking dog meeting Russell and Carl. This “special mission” was alluded to in the film and now we get to see what that mysterious bit of dialogue was actually referring to.
Next up is the Adventure Is Out There Making Of featurette that once again shows why the Pixar gang create such moving, captivating cartoons. In this twenty-two minute segment we see the entire crew of the film journey to South America to explore the plateaus that form the backdrop of the story. After watching this you’ll have a better understanding of how the filmmakers’ are able to infuse UP with so much feeling and creativity.
The fourth Bonus Feature, entitled Alternate Scene: The Many Endings of Muntz, gives you further insight into how much care and thought the creators put into telling this story as they discuss some alternative ways Muntz might have met his maker and why they choose the ending they did.
There is a feature length commentary from director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson that adds an even greater depth of illumination into the process and thought being the making of the film. All these features come very close to imitation the “film school” style of the Criterion Collection discs and are well worth your time.
Last, but not least, is a quick short explaining what you can do with the Digital Copy that is included in this set. This last edition, the computer file version, really caps this off as being an ultimate set. You get the film in three different formats and a bevy of extras (you Blu-ray owners definitely score) making this an excellent set to own. See how synonymous excellent is with Pixar? Anyway, no matter what format you’re able to view it in, this four-disc Blu-ray set is the way to go.
• Commentary by director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson.
• Dug’s Special Mission
• The Many Endings of Muntz
• Partly Cloudy
• Adventure is Out There
BLU-RAY ONLY BONUS FEATURES
• Geriatric Hero
• Canine Companions
• Russell: Wilderness Explorer
• Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin
• Homemakers of Pixar
• Balloons and Flight
• Composing for Characters
• Married Life
• Global Guardian Badge Game
* In the sequence where Carl’s house first lifts up, the Luxo Jr. ball can be seen in the girl’s bedroom as the house goes by her window.
* The Pizza Planet Truck, which first made an appearance in Toy Story, has made a cameo in nearly every Pixar film. In Up, the Pizza Planet truck can be seen at an intersection when Carl’s house flies over the town. The truck makes as second appearance in the Fentons Creamery parking lot at the end of the film.
* The number A113, which refers to Brad Bird and John Lasseter’s former classroom at CalArts, makes an appearance in every Pixar film. A113 is the courtroom number when Carl makes an appearance to plead his case.
* Fentons ice cream parlor in the movie is based on the real Fentons Creamery in Oakland, California.
* The flight number on Carl and Ellie’s tickets to Venezuela is 2319 – the same number as the alert in Monsters, Inc. when George Sanderson has a kid’s sock on his back.
* When Russell and Carl join Muntz for dinner in his dirigible, Carl is actually served the scallop dish from Ratatouille.