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DVD Shopping Bag: Pixar's Up on Blu-ray

The Quest for What Works

By Robert T. Trate     November 10, 2009


Disney and Pixar’s UP (2009) arrives on Blu-ray and DVD
© Pixar/Bob Trate

 

While reviewing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on DVD (see review) I came across a lot of reasons as to why the film floundered. Now before you start commenting below bear with me. In the “Making of” feature about the film I saw Steven Spielberg and George Lucas reminiscing and drinking champagne more than actually doing any work. This was old hat to them and the only people that were both excited, thrilled and dedicated were those younger crew members that fully appreciated what Indiana Jones represents. Spielberg and Lucas let us down and didn’t deliver the Indiana Jones we all remembered. This revelation, on the DVD, opened up the idea that some where in all the commentary tracks and special features there may be a reason to why a film fails. If that is true perhaps the reason why a film succeeds could be there as well.
 
While watching Disney and Pixar’s UP in the theaters this summer I was blown away by how quickly they won over not only me but the audience. Within the first ten minutes we witness life with all of its ups and downs and became emotionally tied to the characters. How did that happen? How did this cartoon adventure make me sympathize with this old man and make me feel something? How can Pixar reach into our souls and find that immediate connection that makes the majority of their films instant classics?
 
The answers are clearly present in Up’s special features. Peter Docter and Bob Peterson, co-directors and writers, on UP clearly have an understanding on how to make movies and transport the audience to another time and place. Much like Walt Disney’s artists of old, Pixar completely submerses themselves in their work. Docter and Peterson take their entire production team to South America and visit the Tepui Mountains to get a sense of the world Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) and Russell (Jordan Nagai) stumble upon. In watching “Adventure is Out There” anyone can clearly see how if this trip was not taken UP would not have been the adventure, for us, worth taking. The production crew took not only photographs and video but each had their own hand drawn interpretations of what they saw. There isn’t a gallery to look at on the Blu-ray but their art work is clearly seen first hand over their shoulders. Pixar sent their people to South America and in turn we are taken there as well.
 
A captivating setting is one thing but without captivating characters the story is nothing. Those first ten minutes of UP are better than anything the robots, superheroes and monsters of this summer could ever hope to accomplish in a dozen sequels. Amazingly enough it was not Pixar’s original idea. In a “Married Life” Peterson and Docter reveal their original intent and how that first screening of the storyboards went. The deafening silence revealed that maybe they should change something. After watching the rough storyboards they trimmed some of the violence and decided to play a more loving relationship between Elie (Elie Docter) and Carl. Docter explains his decisions and his inspirations for the scene. Personally after watching the first take of the first ten minutes one has to realize it’s not as good but its pretty damn close. Their tweaking only brought the audience closer to Carl and Elie. Pixar has that unique ability to work a scene until it is done right. If only the rest of Hollywood would follow suit.
 
Now Dug the Dog (voiced by Bob Peterson) clearly connected with everyone watching the film. Pixar wanted Dug to be real, as well as the entire pack of dogs. Instead of just watching their pets they brought in a dog behaviorist to educate their animators. The animators could now understand the simple as well as complex nuisances behind each tale wag and ear rise that a dog does. One could easily think this would be ridiculous but those dogs in the film are a true testament to their work.
 
Many people found the film to be a bit harsher than most of what Pixar has put out through the years. There was more than one instant that blood was actually seen on film. Many found the comeuppance of the film’s villain, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), also disturbing. This is, after all, a film with Disney attached but Docter and Peterson run through the various endings for Charles Muntz, including one a la The Shining. They discovered that it is all about character and story not about what looks cool. Again they turn on a light and point out why their films strike a cord with the audience. They understand what good story telling is all about.
 
UP on Blu-ray is the perfect film to give anyone as a gift (currently on sale on Amazon for $19.99). There are so few movies that are perfect today and UP is definitely one of them. The film is packed with extra short films, including Partly Cloudy and a prequel for Dug. There is also a larger documentary about the film that breaks down the further lengths to which Pixar has gone to capture everything on screen. The best of which is learning that Docter conceived the whole story based on a sketch he drew of an old man selling balloons in 2004. If you are shy on getting the film because you haven’t transitioned over to Blu-ray yet, Disney is making it easier on you as they have included both the DVD and the Blu-ray in this four disc set. Take the adventure and get yourself and everyone you know UP for the holidays.
 
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
 
Bad Guys ~ Quinton ", Rampage", Jackson, and Kate del Castillo
 
Disciples of Shaolin ~ Alexander Fu-Sheng, Chiang Tao, and Chi Kuan-chi
 
The Divine Weapon ~ Jae-yeong Jeong, Eun-jeong Han, Jun-ho Heo, and Sung-kee Ahn
 
Hard Candy [Blu-ray] ~ Sandra Oh, Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, and John Gilbert
 
Heat [Blu-ray] ~ Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Val Kilmer
 
The Heartbreak Yakuza ~ Koichi Sato, Daisuke Shima, Rikiya Yasuoka, and Yuya Uchida
 
Hurt ~ Jackson Rathbone, Melora Walters, William Mapother, and Johanna E. Braddy
La Culata ~ Guillermo Ivan
 
The Line [Blu-ray] ~ Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Esai Morales, and Armand Assante
 
Lyrical Nanoha: The Complete Series (Viridian Collection) ~ Cristina Valenzuela
 
The Negotiator [Blu-ray] ~ Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, and Ron Rifkin
 
Only the Brave ~ Mark Dacascos, Guy Ecker, Jeff Fahey, and Jason Scott Lee
 
Pray the Devil Back to Hell ~ Leymah Gbowee
 
Pray for Hell ~ Alan Wone, Robert Blanche, Richard Topping, and Mike J. Prosser
 
Red Heat [Blu-ray] ~ Geza Balkay, Marjorie Bransfeld, Richard Bright, and Roger Callard
 
Street Players ~ Aurelio Bocanegra
 
ANIME
 
Devil Girl
 
Dragon Ball: Season Two ~ Justin Cook, Stephanie Nadolny, Tiffany Vollmer, and Sonny Strait
 
George Shrinks: Snowman's Land
 
Giant Robo -Complete (Thin Pack) ~ Kappei Yamaguchi
 
Huntik: Secret & Secrets Volume 2 - Legacy of the Argonauts ~ Yuri Lowenthal
 
Naruto: Shippuden - The Movie
 
Summer's Moon ~ Stephen McHattie
 
Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE: Season 1 (Viridian Collection) ~ Carrie Savage
 
Zebraman Special Edition ~ Akira Emoto
 
CARTOONS
Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Vol. 2 ~ Diedrich Bader, James Arnold Taylor, and Dee Bradley Baker
 
Cars Gift Set (Combo Pack with DVD) [Blu-ray]
 
Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First and Second Seasons w/CD ~ Jemaine Clement
 
Justice League: The Complete Series ~ George Newbern, Kevin Conroy, Carl Lumbly, and Phil LaMarr
 
Monsters, Inc. (4-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray] ~ Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Bonnie Hunt
 
SpongeBob SquarePants: Truth or Square ~ Spongebob Squarepants
 
Up (4 Disc Combo Pack with Digital Copy and DVD) [Blu-ray] ~ Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger, and Christopher Plummer
 
Up (Single Disc Widescreen)
 
UP (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition + Digital Copy)
 
Up - Limited Edition Luxo Jr. Collectible Lamp Pack [Blu-ray]
 
CLASSICS
 
All the Right Noises [Blu-ray] ~ Tom Bell
 
The General (1926) (Silent) [Blu-ray] ~ Buster Keaton
 
Herostratus [Blu-ray] ~ Mona Chin
 
Sunrise [Blu-ray] ~ George O'Brien
 
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
 
Amelie [Blu-ray] ~ Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, and Lorella Cravotta
 
Eagle vs. Shark [Blu-ray] ~ Joel Tobeck, Brian Sergent, Craig Hall, and Loren Horsley
 
Star Wreck ~ Samuli Torssonen
 
The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 7: 1952-1954 ~ Moe Howard, Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine
 
HORROR
 
Dead Snow [Region 2] ~ Vegar Hoel
 
Dead Snow [Blu-ray]
 
The Faculty [Blu-ray] ~ Elijah Wood
 
Intruder ~ Christena Doggrell, Jack Reiling, Gary Ferrar, and Anthony J. Gallo
 
Livestock ~ Fiore Leo, Robert Hines, Johanna Gorton, and Michael Reardon
Near Dark [Blu-ray] ~ Lance Henriksen, Adrian Pasdar, Bill Paxton, and Jenny Wright
 
Scream [Blu-ray] ~ David Arquette, Drew Barrymore, Troy Bishop, and Linda Blair
 
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
 
The Echo [Blu-ray] ~ Hrant Alianak, Jamie Bloch, Jesse Bradford, and Iza Calzado
 
The Echo
 
Godzilla [Blu-ray] ~ Matthew Broderick
 
Ink
 
Logan's Run [Blu-ray] ~ Michael York
 
Mimic [Blu-ray] ~ F. Murray Abraham, Josh Brolin, Charles S. Dutton, and Alix Koromzay
 
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut ~ Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, and Jay Brazeau
 
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut [Blu-ray]
 
TV LAND
 
Dawson's Creek: The Complete Series ~ James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Joshua Jackson
 
JAG (Judge Advocate General): The Ninth Season ~ David James Elliott, Chuck Carrington, and John M. Jackson
 
Nash Bridges: The Third Season ~ Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, Jeff Perry, and Jaime Gomez
 
The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Second Season ~ Elisabeth Sladen, Daniel Anthony, Tommy Knight, and Yasmin Paige
 
Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days
 
The Untouchables - Season Three, Vol. 2 ~ Robert Stack, Walter Winchell, Nicholas Georgiade, and Paul Picerni
 
The other PICK OF THE WEEK (outside of UP)
 
G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Complete Collectors Set [The Complete Series] ~ Chris Latta, Michael Bell, Arthur Burghardt, and Frank Welker
 
Loaded with over 36 hours of content, this 17-disc collector’s set of G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero contains all 95 episodes including the final episodes that have never been available on DVD until now, brand-new bonus features celebrating G.I. JOE’s rich history, a special collectible book, an exclusive 1-GB “Dog Tag” Flash Drive (USB 2.0) with G.I. JOE silent comics, and special Arashikage and Cobra Rub-on tattoos. All collected in a specially designed deluxe footlocker case. Yo Joe!
 
 
 
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 12
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StarlightGuard 11/10/2009 5:41:44 AM

this has (still) got to be the best damned movie of the year

Pixar's got it -- they understand you don't just slap something together which is determined by marketing, toys, and how vast of a population can get into the theater....

Pixar actually cares...and will bust their balls to do it right. (as seen in Toy Story 2 which was meant to be a direct to video release)

you did see the Pixar documentary, right movie lord? about how it formed and all that? if you haven't....then you're not the movie lord :)

tacid 11/10/2009 5:56:19 AM

I bought the G.I Joe Collector set a few months back when it was only available on their website and it is the sweetest awsomest thing EVER!!! :D

themovielord 11/10/2009 7:19:07 AM

I watched it... incredible! Makes me wish I studied animation just so I could have worked for them

Hobbs 11/10/2009 7:22:43 AM

UP was a gem of a movie in one of the worst summer movies seasons I've ever seen. 

UberGeek 11/10/2009 8:14:35 AM

" Spielberg and Lucas let us down and didn’t deliver the Indiana Jones we all remembered. "

BS. Crystal Skull was vintage Indy through and through. It may not have been as good as Raiders or Last Crusade, but it was still pure Indy, and much better then Temple of Doom.

TigerPrime 11/10/2009 8:54:34 AM

So is this Watchmen Ultimate Cut the final one with The Black Freighter edited in and all that?

themovielord 11/10/2009 9:13:52 AM

Yes TIger Prime it is. They didn't send us a copy to review though (why I don't understand).

tacid 11/10/2009 10:16:35 AM

Anyone know if Watchmen Ultimate cut is available anywhere in Canada yet? I went to 4 different Future Shop and one Best Buy and the clerks where looking at me funny and going like "WTF they made an even longer version of this movie?"

Looks like I am going to order it from Amazon.ca but the Blue Ray version is out of stuck GRRRRR!!!

I wanted to watch that tomorrow since I am off work for the rememberance day holliday DEMMIT!!! lol

TigerPrime 11/10/2009 12:00:19 PM

Ok, my bad. Just looked it up on Amazon and it's a 4-Disc edition (5 with the digital copy) that includes the motion comic on 2 discs (Why? Who knows.).

themovielord 11/10/2009 12:22:13 PM

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ that's why

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