Disney home video is selling the hit feature in a four-disc Blu-ray set ($45.99 suggested retail) and a double-disc DVD edition ($39.99).
The colorful "Up" did good boxoffice in its 3D version, but so far there's no talk of a tri-di home video release. Curious, because the movie went out of its way to poke objects through the screen and such, in a bid to wow the folks wearing silly glasses. 2D audiences were left to wonder why the movie dwelled so on multilayered views of clouds.
The dark and delicious "Coraline," the year's best animated feature, came out a few weeks ago in DVD and Blu-ray sets packing both the 3D and 2D versions. Having seen both on Blu-ray, I recommend the 2D, which has plenty of pop and dimensionality without the anaglyph treatment's short-lived novelty.
Disney home video has been putting out tween-friendly content in 3D, so you have to wonder if the artists at Pixar were less than thrilled with the prospect of using anaglyph 3D. Or maybe it's a double dip.
"Up's" story of a Spencer Tracy-like codger who flies away to South America in his old house won't hold everyone's interest, but it's worth a look. There's a great love story for adults and a reasonably exciting (but predictable) adventure for the kids featuring an Asian American boy scout.
Pixar's fun and furry "Monsters, Inc." also debuts in the Blu-ray format on Nov. 10, porting over the old extras plus a bit more.
Here are some of the key extra features on the "Up" videos. As in becoming standard, the DVD and "Up" Blu-ray share tentpole content, although there is a more robust, interactive experience to be had in the HD package:
- Commentary by director Pete Docter and his co-director.
- "Dug's Special Mission" A new cartoon with the Asian American boy hero of "Up."
- "Partly Cloudy": The so-so short that movie audiences saw before "Up." It features, um, multilayered views of clouds.
- "Adventure Is Out There": A docu about the filmmakers' journey to the tepuis mountains of South America in order to research the design and story.
- Various character studies, including "Geriatric Hero" Carl, the slobbering dogs, the wilderness explorer and the silly giant bird (Blu-ray only).
- A breakdown of the moving scene in which the love story of Carl and his wife is done in fast-forward, "Citizen Kane" style (Blu-ray only).
"Up," of course, recalls the work of Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki, especially his "Howl's Moving Castle," which also features a flying structure. No surprise, since Pixar chieftain John Lasseter is a huge fan and disciple of Miyazaki, eagerly promoting his hero's work in the States. Lasseter has been known to screen Miyazaki's films for his animators as a cure for creative block.
The animated adventure is distributed by Walt Disney, which also imported "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away." (There's some irony there since Miyazaki winces whenever he's called the "Walt Disney of Japan.") Any opportunity to see a Miyazaki film on a big screen should be celebrated.
Disney also issued a decent series of Miyazaki DVDs about five years ago, including his best-known film, "Spirited Away." Here's hoping the Mouse House makes it a priority to issue Blu-ray versions of those magical Miyazaki films, and other works by him.
It's been a good year for animated fare on DVD and Blu-ray. Here are some of the titles I've been wanting to write up.
"Waltz with Bashir": The movie begins and ends with nightmarish scenes, one imagined and one all-too-real. This troubling and thoughtful work about Israeli soldiers in Lebanon could have easily been a feature documentary, but instead comes as a stylized animation. Filmmaker Ari Folman tells his story and those of his friends as soldiers in Israel's early 1980s misadventure in Lebanon. The movie tells of the veterans' later efforts to exorcise the horrors of urban warfare and ethnic cleansing. Sony's beautiful Blu-ray rendition of "Waltz With Bashir" comes with a strong director's commentary and examinations of the unusual animation scheme, in which the characters move about like standee cutouts at times. Looks like a graphic novel, feels like real life. Excellent soundtrack.
"Coraline": Neil Gaiman's tale of a girl who finds an alternate reality lurking in her new house gets back to the creepy days of early fairy tales, when awful things can happen to good kids. The director, Henry Selick, also made "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and while the film is similar stylistically, the storytelling is pure Gaiman. The Blu-ray from Universal Studios comes with a quartet of 3D glasses, but go with the 2D option for maximum visual impact. The famed graphic novelist Gaiman ("Sandman," "Mirror Mask") participates in the extras, expressing admiration for how his kids book was adapted -- and significantly changed -- for the screen.
"Max Fleischer's Superman: 1941-1942": People tend to think of sophisticated, noirish lighting schemes in cartoons as a product of modern times, but here's proof that some of the best stuff was being done almost 70 years ago. Warner Home Video's release of 17 theatrical shorts comes straight from the original masters, and looks it. These are highly formulaic adventures of Superman/Clark Kent, Louis Lane and the Daily Planet gang, so don't expect storytelling on the level of the incredible art. Two special features look at the cartoon series and the evolution of the Mensch of Steel.
"Peanuts: 1960's Collection": Warner has been cleaning up its Peanuts TV specials in recent years; here's a chance to get the two ageless classics and two new-to-DVD '60s specials. Includes "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," "You're in Love, Charlie Brown," "Charlie Brown All-Stars" and the two debuting titles: "He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown" and "It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown." Disc 2 has a 40-minute featurette about the Peanuts music man, Vince Guaraldi. The Christmas special came out on Blu-ray last fall.