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DVD Review: Up (4 Disc Combo Pack with Digital Copy and DVD)


I received the 4-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Up to review in the mail the day before the DVD of Up arrived in our mailbox from Netflix. So I threw the Netflix disc back in it's envelope and dumped it off at the post office since I had to go out and do some other errands in the area anyway. Kinda sucks wasting a Netflix rental like that. On the up side, Up turned out to be a good movie. On the down side, I still don't have a Blu-ray player so I could only watch the DVD version, and I'm sure this movie looks terrific in high-def. I bet it looks even better in 3D, which is how it was show in the theaters, but home TVs haven't quite made it to that point yet.

Anyway, Up starts out very sweet. A very shy, quiet little kid named Carl is pretending to be his hero, adventurer extraordinaire Charles Muntz, when the sound of little kid playing some kind of adventure game in an old abandoned house catches his attention. He unsteadily ventures in to see who this kid is, and finds Ellie, a hyperactive girl about his age. And while the two appear to be complete opposites, they quickly form a deep friendship that eventually turns into an even deeper love as we see a very sweet montage of their life together, from kids to old age.

This opening sequence is so emotionally deep that it could be a short film unto itself. Carl doesn't say two words the entire time, but he has no need to as his facial expressions and body language speaks for him, and besides, Ellie can speak enough for the both of them. The music, the scenery, and the lighting all play a very important part into conveying the emotions we're meant to feel, and they all succeed. For me, this opening sequence was the best part of the film, though that's not to say the rest of the movie wasn't good as well.

After Ellie's passing and some real estate tycoon begins harrassing Carl to sell the home that Ellie and himself fixed up together, we see Carl become not just a lonely old man, but a grouchy one as well. Then one day he goes a little too far, and the courts force him out of his home. At a loss about what to do and with time running out before he loses his home, Carl comes up with a crazy idea... he's going to fly his house to Paradise Falls, the place Ellie had always dreamed of moving to with Carl ever since they were kids.

As you're probably aware from the advertising, he attempts to accomplish this incredible journey by using a whole heck of a lot of balloons, and I'm sure this part probably looked fantastic in 3D. What Carl isn't aware of, however, is that he has an unintentional stowaway in the form of Russell, a plump little kid attempting to earn his last scouting badge for helping assisting the elderly. This puts a kink in Carl's plan, but before he can lower the house enough to drop the kid off, the pair are caught in a violent storm.

Thanks to some skillful piloting by both Carl and Russell, and throwing in some luck for good measure, the two find themselves surprisingly close to Paradise Falls. They can actually see Paradise Falls from their current location, but too balloons were destroyed in the storm for them to fly the house over to its final destination, so Carl decides to hoof it and pull his house along. But this is just the beginning of an adventure that slowly helps Carl let go of his grief at losing Ellie and start to live life again. Definitely a touching tale if every I witnessed one.

And I can't forget to mention Dug, the dog they soon meet that can talk thanks to a custom-made collar around his neck. Dug is hilarious, acting very much like a dog and vocalizing exactly what we'd all expect a dog to say could he speak, including stopping in the middle of a sentence to yell "squirrel!" as his head turns to focus intensely in some other direction, only to turn back and continue with his train of thought like nothing had happened. My wife actually did this same thing unintentionally later that same evening as some unrelated thought popped into her head while she was speaking. It just caused me to bust out laughing.

Extra features for the DVD version include a director's commentary (which I haven't listed to yet), two animated shorts, several storyboarded alternate endings, and a making-of featurette. The first animated short, Dug's Special Mission, tells the story of what Dug was up to right before meeting Carl and Russell, and gives us some better insight into his character. The other short, Partly Cloudy, is a completely unrelated short about storks picking up animal babies from clouds and delivering them to their parents. There's no talking but it's still quite funny... and it'll make you cringe as well!

The alternate endings were also kinda neat because the filmmakers discussed how they came about and why kept being changed. It's very interesting insight into the process of story crafting. Finally we have the making-of featurette, which focuses a lot on the filmmakers' journey to South America and the remote, alien-like places they visited and all that they went through in order to help get the design of the movie to look unique and interesting but at the same time realistic and functional. After seeing all the various real-life rock formations, it makes you want to watch the movie again in order to look out for it.

This is a good movie for both kids and adults, and it has a lot of great extra features, so I'd definitely recommend checking it out.

Disc 1 - Blu-ray

  • Feature Film
  • "Dug's Special Mission" - All-new short follows the misadventures of Dug
  • "Partly Cloudy" - Theatrical Short
  • Cine-Explore - The making of Up with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
  • The Many Endings of Muntz - Alternate Scenes
  • And More!

Disc 2 - Exclusive Blu-ray Bonus

  • Global Guardian Badge Game - A multi-layered geography game
  • Married Life - Expanded character back story
  • 8 All-New Documentaries - Including "Adventure Is Out There" - Travel to the real Paradise Falls!
  • And More!

Disc 3 - DVD

  • Feature Film
  • "Dug's Special Mission" - All-new short follows the misadventures of Dug
  • "Partly Cloudy" - Theatrical Short
  • Alternate Scenes: The Many Endings of Muntz
  • Director Commentary
  • Adventure is Out There - A making-of featurette which shows some really cool footage of the real-life South American location used for designing Paradise Falls.

Disc 4 - DisneyFile Digital Copy

  • Watch your Blu-ray or DVD in the living room and your DisneyFile digital copy on the go!

Up (4 Disc Combo Pack with Digital Copy and DVD), released by Disney, is available starting November 10, 2009. Check out the official website.

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