Surf's Up Blu-ray Review
PictureThe disc has been given a theatrically correct widescreen 1.85:1 1080p transfer that has been AVC Mpeg 4 encoded. As always the quality of an animated picture is in the artist's pen, or in this case the computer's pixel, but due to the 'documentary style' used this image has also been given all sorts of intentional grain and print damage. But everything you see is supposed to be there in its pristine, sharp and saturated glory. With that in mind, detail is breath taking, from the shards of ice and snow, to the foliage of the jungle to the grains of sand on the beach, all has distinct edges and is solid in frame. Colours are muted when needed or bold, vibrant and strong when called for, look to the stark contrast between the snow and beach for an example. The greens of the jungle, the yellows of the sand, the blues of the sky and the whites of the snow all are blended perfectly and show a clear gradation. Brightness and contrast are set to give some good blacks, but due to the framing style there is little depth to the picture, that is until we talk about the waves. The waves and the water are real. That is the highest praise I can think to give, they look real. Everything about them screams reality, light, reflectance, translucency, weight it's all there and boy does it look amazing.
Every bit of print damage and grain you see is supposed to be there, in places it does become very prominent, damage such as specks, dirt and tram lines are standout features. In fact nearly the whole film has some kind of grain to it, that is all the 'documentary' bits, there are occasion when the picture is set apart from the documentary setting, i.e. panning landscape scene setting, and during these scenes everything is as clear and as bright as one would expect a Pixar film to be and in these circumstances there is nothing to choose between the two pictures. Surf's Up is an amazing looking film.
SoundOnly the one sound track to choose from an English Dolby TrueHD track, luckily it's pretty good. I did find that although the rear speakers were in near constant use their level was slightly lower than one would normally anticipate, this meant to get the best out of them the amp volume had to be pushed higher than my normal settings, this of course meant that the fronts was blazing away giving an almost front heavy feel. There is a terrific range and plenty of bass, though LF effects tended to be limited to the crashing of the waves, but when they sound this good who's complaining. The score also made full use of the stage, plenty of left right separation, little in the way of centering though. Dialogue was very natural sounding in both range and delivery and was never drowned out by the happenings on screen. In all a pretty good track, never had me turning my head but certainly right up there.
ExtrasFirst up there is a Filmmaker Commentary with the participants being Director's Chris Buck and Ash Brannon and Producer Chris Jenkins. These three guys can be found introducing other extras and they look and sound like they are on the beach front as they record this. They're chemistry is slightly infectious and they rabbit on about all aspects of the film without getting too bogged down in the technical aspects which is lucky because the second commentary has enough of that. Dubbed the Visual Effects Commentary, here we listen to Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Gradel, Animation Supervisor David Shopp and Layout Supervisor James Williams. Like the first one they have an infectious rapport but their subject matter does become very technical at times making for a far harder listen. Both are worthwhile listens though; but if you can't bear to listen there is always the subtitled option which reads like text trivia.
The rest of the extras are presented in glorious 1080p HD and are a joy to see, if not to actually view....
First up there are four 'lost scenes' playable with an optional introduction from the filmmakers, who goof and gaff to begin with all sitting on a veranda in Hawaiian shirts and glorious sunshine and tell us what we are about to see. The scenes are story board pictures slightly animated with voices and although don't add anything to the picture do actually look quite good.
Following this there is a near twenty minute feature entitled All Together Now - The Surf's Up Voice Sessions, in which we see the voice recording of the characters. It's actually pretty entertaining, with the actors being encouraged to ad lib around their lines which gives the dialogue the spontaneity of the film. All look to have had a good time and there is a little back slapping, but on the whole this is quite a sober feature.
Nearly all of the following features have a short, few second, introduction from some kid called Lil' Chris.
Not a Drop of Real Water is the overall title for three short making of featurettes. The first is Surf Cam and explains how the film makers achieved the hand held look of the camera movements; a novel and entertaining feature. Next up is Making Waves and discussed the model used to create the photorealistic wave movements from the computer programmers (who got a day at the beach) to the professional surfer's asked to comment on their authenticity. Lastly is Storyboard to Surfboard which allows you, via the remote, to cycle through the various layers that where created to finalise the film.
Progression reel is a short feature, that could have been included in the above section, is a look through the various stages of rendering that go into creating the finished product.
Next up is a short ridiculous featurette entitled Meet the Penguins where we are introduced to two real life penguins that take us through some of the film elements.
Then How to Surf Like a Pro introduced us to the three pro surfers drafted into the film as they discuss various surfing techniques, the value of this extra is questionable at best.
Following this pap is Lil' Chris on the Blue Carpet, and equally questionable featurette where this kid, Lil' Chris, and I have no idea who this person is, interviews the stars of the film on the blue, not red, carpet.
Arnold's Zurfinary attempts to teach surf lingo and its use in a sentence, like our kids need an excuse for worse grammar....
There are two art galleries depicting various pictures created for the films look.
The Loose Myself by Lauryn Hill music video features clips from the film and really is not my cup of tea.
Next up and a bit of a departure but quite an excellent couple of features are two additional Sony Animations entitled The ChubbChubbs & The ChubbChubbs Save Christmas, the former being an academy winner the second .... not. Actually these are quite fun, not wanting to give too much away there are plenty of smiles to be had, the original is far better then the follow up but both have their merit.
Finally I found two Easter eggs, but both are pretty rubbish.
First: while any feature is playing highlight the speaker icon then press up to highlight a flying saucer to see the filmmakers congratulate you on finding the first egg and tell you to look out for the character depicted in the ChubbChubbs hiding in some bushes.
Second: highlight the speaker icon as before but this time press right highlighting another flying saucer to see the filmmakers goofing around and again congratulating you then informing you to look out for the many flying saucers seen in the film.
VerdictSurf's Up takes a well used premise and gives it new twist resulting in a charming, energetic and touching story. The spontaneity of the dialogue coupled with the slapstick humour appeals to the kids while the surprisingly deep story gives the adults something to chew on. But however you choose to look at it Surf's up is terrific fun.
The Blu-ray the package, at fist glance, looks as terrific, certainly the picture and sound are outstanding, but it is let down by a rather washed up extras package. Still gets a hearty recommendation from me though. Dude!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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