December 18, 2012
One of the most exciting ways to see any film is to climb the red carpet staircase with 2,245 other film fanatics, all virgin viewers at yet another world premiere in the Grand Théâtre Lumière at the Cannes Film Festival.
Multiply that excitement at the opening of Pixar's Up with the frenzy stirred by the ascending bungalow boosted by balloons off an adjacent pier anchored in the Mediterranean Sea.
Yes, we were 2,246 transported adults, but kids love Up, too - as did the Academy, awarding it Best Animated Feature and Best Musical Score in 2009.
Deviating from the expected storylines of an animated movie, Up features two cranky codgers and a rotund Asian kid. Ed Asner voices Carl Fredricksen, the balloon peddler; Christopher Plummer voices Charles Muntz, the ingenious genius ex-pat; and Jordan Nagai, the gung-ho 8 year old scout.
In Up, most of the animation clichés are converted into eccentric exceptions: The de rigueur spaceships are a floating house and a luxurious zeppelin; the romantic lead is a wizened woman; a quad-cane and false teeth are the deadly weapons; the robots are canines who talk via their collars; the chase scenes are mostly the mutts; and unrequited desire is kindled by a rare bird.
Adorable animals are the ubiquitous prosaic presence: Dug, the utterly agog dog, and Kevin, the mama warbler.
The movie is launched by a silent sequence of Carl and his lifetime pal and partner, Ellie. The buddy flick switches mates when Ellie dies. The somewhat-adventuresome widower and an accidental young stowaway lift up, up and away from New York City, and a storm lands them in South America - the trip Carl had originally wanted to take with his wife.
In the jungles of Venezuela, the odd couple tracks down the reclusive ultra-geriatric scientist who has spent over fifty years obsessed with capturing an elusive bird - a creature that can salvage his Stateside legacy as a great zoologist - a quest once shared by the adventuresome Fredricksens.
Adding more info would expose spoilers, so, suffice to advise: "Get thee to a 3D TV."
Anyone out there not old enough to read the above advice might also be too young to tolerate the 3D glasses, so two of the other enclosed digital discs might be more suitable for them.
This review is celebrating the release of the Blu-ray 3D version of Up. The five disc DVD set (pictured below) also contains a Blu-ray with the 2D feature (plus 5 Bonuses), another Blu-ray disc with four more Bonus Features, the standard DVD version (with 2 Bonus additions) and a digital copy for computers or portable devices (bonus-less). So the on-the-go kids of all ages are covered.
The Extras are treasures, each one in a different way for different reasons.
For family fun, Disc 2 and 3 contain original animations, extended stories roused by Up.
Interviews, narratives and explanations by the film's artsome team are refreshing and informative. No irritating backslapping or brown nosing, just straight talk about the evolution of a good story, the development of great characters, and the execution of stunning scenery. On many levels for multiple motives, viewing is worth the time.
One extraordinary documentary chronicles twelve Up-artists' trip to Venezuela to find inspiration - a-must-see for most of us. Only a few gritty gutsy travelers visit the Tepui Mesa range of Venezuela. (It is said that more people have walked on the moon than have ever stepped on some of the Tepui mesas. Others have never been touched by the toes of humankind.) Angel Falls, a more popular Mesa destination, is the tallest waterfall in the world. This 20 minute short is a virtual trip of a lifetime.
To listen to the multi-ethnic multi-talented artists speak and show their work in progress was a lesson in camaraderie, cooperation and creative cross-pollination.
And as Bonus voyeurs, we watch Director Pete Doctor's insightful direction of child actor Nagai. (And did I see the director playing the bass in the Up orchestra?)
Speaking of music, the repetitive refrain from the Up theme makes for an intolerable extended viewing of the Extras - especially serenading the games.
With Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Ratatouille, The Incredibles and Monsters part of Up's artistic lineage, you can expect many more animated masterpieces spawned by this talented crowd.
Director: Peter Docter
Cast: Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, John Ratzenberger
Length: 96 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
7.1 DTS-HD Master
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French and Spanish