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Up (Blu-ray)

Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) fulfills his lifelong dream of adventure and exploration when he ties thousands of helium balloons to his house and escapes the construction hell surrounding his Oakland, California, home for the beautiful surroundings of South America. But shortly after takeoff, there's a disturbing knock at the front door—a local Wilderness Explorer named Russell (Jordan Nagai) looking to earn his "assisting the elderly" badge has stowed away for the trip.

Up is the one of the best films I've seen in 2009, and it's the first Pixar film to make me cry. The opening prologue showing how Carl and his future wife Ellie meet, the growth of their relationship and their shared dreams, and her eventual passing is extremely powerful. Once Carl escapes the urban jungle and he and Russell embark on their journey, the laughs are virtually nonstop with the lovable dog Dug (Bob Peterson), the scary Alpha dog (also Bob Peterson)—who elicits one of the funniest moments the first time he speaks—and Kevin, the mysterious iridescent bird who takes a liking to Russell.

Pixar titles have always looked great on DVD, but the added resolution of Blu-ray creates a three-dimensional presence. The vibrant colors leap off the screen, particularly the rainbow of balloons as they whisk our two heroes on their southward journey. Black level and shadow detail are exquisite, and the fine detail in the trees and leaves of the South American jungle is a sight to behold in this digital-to-digital transfer. Then again, every Pixar film has looked great on Blu-ray, and the studio's streak continues here.

What really sets Pixar apart from other studios is its attention to detail, not only in the story and animation, but in the sound design as well. Whether it's the noise of the construction site, the sound of the wind blowing into Carl's makeshift sail, or the lurking critters in the jungle, every sound creates a realistic environment. Imaging is superb across the front speakers, and the exceptional score by Michael Giacchino adds a final touch to the flawless audio track.

The four-disc set includes a house full of bonus materials, a DVD copy of the film, and a digital copy for portable players. Disc-one supplements include a commentary by director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson; Dug's Special Mission, which reveals what Dug was up to before meeting Carl and Russell; Pixar short Partly Cloudy, showing how storks get the babies they deliver; "The Many Endings of Muntz," a nearly five-minute featurette on how to dispose of the villain; and "Adventure is Out There," which explains how the filmmakers trekked through the mountains of South America to research the design and story for the film.

The second Blu-ray disc contains seven documentaries, each exploring a different aspect of the production—a character study of Carl, where CG puppies come from, the inspiration for Russell, bringing the mythical Kevin to life, how they made an inanimate house a character in the film, the physics of making a house fly, and a great piece on composing the score. My favorite featurette is "Married Life," which explains the concept of the powerful opening montage that was inspired by director Pete Docter's viewing of his family's 16mm footage from his youth (sans sound). Additional bonus features include some promo materials that hyped the film before its theatrical release, two trailers, "Cinexplore" with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson offering another commentary and some PIP artwork along with their dialog, and a BD-Live game aimed at the kids.

While virtually every Hollywood studio has turned to computer-animated 3D titles in order to bring families to the theaters, Pixar continues to outshine them all with exceptional storytelling as well as spectacular animation. The presentation is perfect, and the bonus features will keep the family busy for hours. Highly recommended.

Release Date: November 10, 2009
Studio: Disney/Pixar

Movie: 10/10
Picture: 10/10
Sound: 10/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics

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