Disney Mathematics 101--
Pixar + Blu-Ray = Entertainment Heaven.
My recent home theater upgrade began late last spring. It started very indirectly with the purchase of a Blu-Ray-compatible Playstation 3. It culminated mid-summer with the acquisition of 40" flat panel HD television and a Yamaha surround sound receiver. Even then, I was still generally reluctant to begin the $-intensive task of upgrading my rather extensive film library.
But then I watched the Blu-Ray edition of Cars and whatever reservations I possessed were quickly dispelled. Animation is indeed a marvel to behold in Blu-Ray format; Pixar animation on Blu-Ray is simply a jaw-dropping, visual overload of the highest order. I immediately purchased Ratatouille, Wall-E and A Bug's Lif, the only other Pixar titles then available in Blu-Ray format.
Happily, this week marks the arrival of two more Pixar features in Blu-Ray editions. It is a Pete Doctor old-and-new combination as the general home entertainment release of Up is accompanied to market by the director's first feature, Monsters, Inc. in brand new Blu-Ray trappings.
"Blue" serves quite well as the buzzword for this new high-def version of Monsters, Inc. Sulley's blue fur is simply breathtaking to behold in all its 1080 dpi glory. In a roundtable feature exclusive to the Blu-Ray, the filmmakers spoke of the challenge of rendering Sulley in the Himilaya scene with winds blowing and snow mixing into the character's fur. Viewing that particular scene in high definition certainly demonstrates that challenge and showcases the skills and talent that successfully executed it.
While many of the set's bonus features have been recycled from the original DVD release, a number of new Blu-Ray exclusive features have been added. Notable among them is a 12-minute look at the new Monsters, Inc. Ride and Go Seek attraction at Tokyo Disneyland and aforementioned Filmmakers Roundtable, a 22-minute discussion featuring director Pete Doctor, producer Darla Anderson and co-directors David Silverman and Lee Unkrich. For the younger set, Roz's 100-Door Challenge Game has been added. And as Pete Doctor notes in a new Blu-Ray intro, much of the original DVD bonus material, especially production art, has been upgraded to higher resolutions to match the high-def format.
Doctor's second feature and Pixar's 10th consecutive box office blockbuster, Up is equally served well by the Blu-Ray format. In contrast to Monsters' bright and colorful fantasy-based designs, Up showcases towering cityscapes and sweeping landscapes rich in earth tones. Textures in particular seem to jump off the screen, whether it be the rocky ground of South America or just simply the clothing worn by Karl and Russell.
Bonus features also abound on the Up set. The theatrical short Partly Cloudy is included, as well as the brand new Dug's Special Mission, a hilarious, if somewhat slight new vignette starring one of the film's more popular characters. Numerous featurettes and documentaries fill out the set's two Blu-Ray discs, as does the interactive Global Guardian Badge Game for younger viewers.
The Blu-Ray editions of both Monsters, Inc. and Up include the standard DVD versions of the films as well as digital copies that can be transferred to PCs and digital devices.
But most important, beyond all the home theater-high definition bells and whistles, exist two wonderful and very emotionally satisfying films. Even on small conventional television screens in mono sound, neither would fail to entertain.