Up Blu-ray review and Russell voice actor interview

Jordan Nagai voiced the character Rusell in the Disney-Pixar film Up
Jordan Nagai voiced the character Rusell in the Disney-Pixar film Up

Simply put, Pixar’s run of excellence continues with their latest touching tale, Up. The film is a wondrous and rousing adventure, complete with heart-rending statements about the limitations and hopes of one’s life. Pixar has also added enough billowing adventure for virtually anyone to enjoy.

Up opens with a biographical sequence that introduces Carl and Ellie, following their growing relationship through childhood and adolescence, ultimately sharing their vows at the altar and growing old together. We soon realize that Carl and Ellie have the same problems any normal couple has, as they struggle with bills, alter the course of their dreams, and eventually discover that Ellie has cancer. Unavoidably, we watch as Carl attends the funeral of his life-mate, and we feel empathy for him, as he takes root in his house, and resists land developers who want to take away the only thing he feels he has left – the home he and Ellie shared. It’s in these scenes that Up forms its essence and reasoning. It’s here we realize that Carl’s trip to Paradise Falls is an adventure driven by memories he refuses to release.

It’s Up’s breathtaking second act that introduces us to Russell, an endearing young scout that provides enough comic relief, to let release our heart strings just enough to simply wonder at an adventure that could reinvigorate anyone’s dreams.

Up is an elegant reflection on how life can force us to place even our biggest dreams on the shelf. And how chance encounters and the pure of heart, can help anyone remember what those dreams meant in their lives.

Bonus Material

The 4-disc Blu-ray edition of Up has a hefty serving of bonus material, all of which is in high definition, and several exclusive features not found on the DVD release. The bundle also includes a standard DVD version of the film as well as a Digital Copy.

  • Partly Cloudy is a hilarious animated short film.
  • The main portion of the set’s second disc is a collection of seven highly enjoyable production featurettes. Geriatric Hero centers on Carl and the work that went into his design, animation, personality quirks and facial qualities; Canine Companions focuses on Muntz’ dog pack; Wilderness Explorer centers on Russell’s character development; Our Giant Flightless Friend discusses Kevin’s movements and vocalizations; Homemakers of Pixar looks at the creation of Carl and Ellie’s house; Balloons and Flight gives an overview of Carl’s flying house and Muntz’ dirigible; and Composing for Characters examines Michael Giacchino’s musical score.
  • Dug’s Special Mission is an all new animated short that finds Dug the dog guarding a rock at the command of his superiors.
  • Cine-Explore Commentary features director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson providing an absorbing Picture-in-Picture video commentary that features animated storyboards, conceptual art, early character & environment designs, and some video footage that animators used as reference for their work.
  • Adventure Is Out There features Docter, along with other filmmakers, discussing Up’s preproduction, as well as the amazing background designs from the film’s second act.
  • The Many Endings of Muntz takes a brief look at the filmmakers efforts to carefully handle the death of the film’s villain, Muntz.
  • Married Life is a compilation of scenes following the development of the opening Carl and Ellie sequence.
  • Global Guardian Badge Game is an interactive BD-Live activity that offers a hunt-and-find game with two difficulty levels, the ability to save files and more. This is purely for kids, unlike much of the bonus material.
  • Two theatrical trailers and promotional spots.
  • Video and Audio Calibration Tools
  • Standard DVD Version of the Film
  • Digital Copy of the Film
  • BD-Live Functionality

Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Cast (voice talent): Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, John Ratzenberger, David Kaye, Elie Docter, Jeremy Leary, Mickie McGowan, Danny Mann, Donald Fullilove, Jess Harnell, Josh Cooley, Pete Docter

Original Release Date: May 29, 2009
Blu-ray release date: November 10, 2009



I’ve posted a series of images showcasing the progression of a scene from the beginning storyboard though the layering of set dressing, animation, shading, effects and lighting. Click on the example image below to visit the gallery.

The Disney Pixar film Up progression of a scene
The Disney Pixar film Up progression of a scene


Character design for Russell voiced by Jordan Nagai from the Disney-Pixar film Up
Character design for Russell voiced by Jordan Nagai from the Disney-Pixar film Up

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Jordan Nagai provides the voice of a wilderness explorer called Russell in Disney Pixar’s new animated film, Up. Here is a recent interview with the youngster to find out all about his experience working on Up.

Tell us about your new movie, Up
Up is about a young wilderness explorer called Russell. Russell needs his last wilderness explorer badge – the Assisting The Elderly Badge – so he goes to his elderly neighbor, Mr. Fredricksen, to see if he can get it.

What happens when Russell meets Mr. Fredricksen?
Mr. Fredricksen has just lost his wife and he is about to lose his house, so he decides to go on an adventure by attaching balloons to his home. He sails into the sky, but Russell accidentally goes along for the ride.

What is Russell like?
Russell is an active, enthusiastic and determined 8-year-old boy. He loves animals and he loves the wilderness, so he has a great time exploring when they land near Paradise Falls. Russell is a funny, helpful and smart boy – and he wants to get this last badge to please his father.

What is Mr. Fredricksen like?
Mr. Fredricksen is grumpy and he doesn’t like going outside. Russell loves being outside and he loves running around, so they’re opposites. Russell has only been to museums. He’s never experienced the forest for real, so this is his first trip into a wilderness.

What do you like about Russell?
I like the way that he’s funny. He makes a lot of jokes – and he sometimes shows off what he knows from his wilderness explorer camp. He shows Carl – Mr. Fredricksen – different knots and the different calls of animals.

How similar are you to Russell?
We both love animals and I’m pretty determined at getting things that I really want. I’d love to explore the wilderness too!

How did you get the part of Russell?
The principal at my school sent out an email to all students saying there was a audition for 9 and 10 year old boys. My brother was 9 years old at the time and he went to the audition, so I went along with him. Even though I was only 7 years old, I was allowed to do the audition too. I did several auditions after that – and finally, I got the part!

How difficult was it to record your voice in the sound booth?
It wasn’t very difficult, but I had to repeat the same lines over and over again. I also had to stand for a long time, so it was a little tiring. The director – Pete Docter – tried to make it easier for me, so I took a lot of breaks. I had a lot of fun recording the voice!

How did you prepare for the recording sessions?
Before some recordings, I’d do jumping jacks or I’d run around the studio to pump up my energy. When I needed to be excited, Pete would make obstacle courses for me to run around too!

What was your funniest moment from the recording sessions?
There was one time when I needed to laugh, so Pete held me upside down and tickled me. That was really funny.

How weird is it to hear your voice coming out of a cartoon character?
It’s pretty weird, but it’s cool too.

What do your friends think of your new fame?
They are all very excited for me. We went to see the movie together on opening day. They like the movie a lot and they think that I’m very lucky.

Have you always wanted to be an actor?
It wasn’t my plan, but I really enjoyed working on Up.

What other films would you like to star in?
Toy Story would be a great movie to work on. My brother and I have always liked Toy Story. I think it’s really cool when the toys come alive and have their own adventure.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to swim and play basketball. I also love judo. I like the drum and the guitar!

Russell heads off to South America in the movie… Where in the world would you most like to visit?
I would like to go to Africa. I want to go on safari and see the wild animals, like the cheetah. That would be very cool!

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