Up: DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2009)

11/08/2009 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Written and directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, 90 minutes, rated PG.

According to the Disney-Pixar collaboration, “Up,” which now is out on DVD and Blu-ray disc, things are looking up for the housing market. Way up. Especially if you attach a roaring mass of helium-filled balloons to your house, let them rip through the chimney and thus assist you in floating up and away to wherever your heart leads you.

In this case, the heart in question belongs to Carl Fredricksen (voice of Ed Asner), a former balloon salesman and elderly widower who appears to have no heart at all. He was happy as a young man, but now he’s a bitter curmudgeon who misses his dead wife Ellie so much (the film’s early scenes of observing the couple in their youth is the movie at its best), he plans to sail away to Paradise Falls, Venezuela. It’s there that he and Ellie once promised they’d visit (they didn’t), and it’s there that Carl now will enjoy new adventures before death pays its unwanted visit to him.

Trouble is, well--trouble abounds. You can’t just strap balloons to your house and expect it to float away without a snag. Not long after Carl and his house lift off for a new life on a new continent, a knock comes at the door. Behind it is 8-year-old Russell (Jordan Nagai), a terrified boy who needs just one more badge to become a full-fledged Wilderness Scout. Achieving such a badge involves helping the elderly, which Carl wants no part of, but who wants to bet he acquiesces and allows Russell inside to safety?

If there’s a quibble with “Up,” it is, in fact, its predictability, something that wasn’t the case with Pixar’s last film, the Academy Award-winning “WALL-E.” Still, the movie can be surprisingly moving, its attention to detail builds a groundswell of admiration, and the action is brisk and intense.

Taking a cue from “WALL-E,” “Up” is initially filled with long stretches of silence, where the story is told visually and beautifully without the need for words. Toward its mid-half, convention settles in as Carl and Russell nudge toward their inevitable bond. Joining them there are a talking dog named Dug (Bob Peterson), a giant bird named Kevin and the evil explorer Charles M. Muntz (Christopher Plummer).

As a boy, Carl once championed Muntz, but now he becomes his adversary in ways that have everything to do with Kevin. Muntz wants her--yes, Kevin is a she--for his collection of rare species, something Carl, Russell and Dug won’t allow, and so they fight to protect Kevin, which gives the movie its run of adventure.

Visually, and especially on high-definition Blu-ray, “Up” is just as spectacular as you’d expect from Pixar--no studio comes close to achieving their visual highs (the film also is being shown in 3D, unseen by me). The wry moments of humor also are spot-on, as is how the script handless death and loneliness. Its refusal to sugarcoat either deepens its appeal, with Carl’s longing for Ellie so palpable, few won’t be moved as the film wends along its harrowing way.

Grade: B+

View the trailer for "Up" here:

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