Surf’s up

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover is standard, nothing to get excited about. The menus are appropriately colorful and designed to fit the movie, but with a strange little sound when you move from option to option.

Features: 8/10

  • “The Chubbchubbs” (2002 Academy Award Winner) and “The Chubbchubbs Saves Christmas” Animated Short – I have been more captivated by other animated shorts as far as their story value was concerned, but as far as looks…this duo of shorts is an excellent glimpse of what’s to come in the world of animation. The story of the Chubbchubbs is cute enough, and there are a lot of pop culture references to some semi-famous sci-fi favorites, like Star Wars, E.T., and others. They just haven’t got that certain something that makes them very memorable to me.
  • Surf’s Up Pinball Game – I’m not a pinball fan, but for a DVD to have a working game like this is pretty cool. It’s just like any little PC game you might end spending a good sit down session enjoying, so it’s a nice little bonus addition to an already full Blu-Ray Disc.
  • Lost Scenes – This is a small group of bits that didn’t make it to the movie, but are on the Disc in their rough draft form so you can see some of the other ideas the filmmakers were toying with throughout the production.
  • Lose Myself Music Video By Lauryn Hill – Videos..blah.
  • Meet The Penguins Featurette – You know those segments about movies on channels like HBO, Disney, etc. ? Where they do some cutesy schmootsy thing to promote a movie with a certain dummied down tone…this is that.
  • All Together Now Surf’s Up Voice Sessions Featurette – Jeff Bridges has that kind of grown up hippy actor vibe about him and when you see him in the studio recording the voice of Z the surfer, it seems like it’s right up his alley. The rest of the cast has a good time making their animated selves as charming and personable as they can with nothing more than their voices and hopes that the animators will do them justice.
  • Arnolds Zurfinary – Arnold is a cute little character from the movie and this he is teaching us how to talk like a surfer. Useless but cute.
  • Not A Drop Of Real Water Featurette – The title says it all. This is a feature about how they did the animation for all the water (among other things) that populates this movie. They talk about the camera style and other visual choices. It’s thorough and delivers more of the technical side of the art of CG animation that other DVD’s.
  • Progression Reels – This more of the special effects and animation technical process, which is excellent to watch after you’ve seen the movie. That is, if you are into that kind of thing.
  • Filmmaker and Visual Effects Commentaries – These commentaries are fun enough. They touch on technical aspects of making the movie, but mostly it’s light hearted and if you liked the movie enough to watch it twice, that would be a good time to listen to these folks talk about putting it all together.
  • Photo Gallery’s – Stills.

Movie: 8/10
Surf’s Up is an animated feature length movie that raises our expectations and standards for modern non-live-action flicks. We used to be happy with Bambi and Snow White, Frosty and the Grinch, Fred Flintstone and Scooby Doo. Those classics satisfied us for several decades until some folks got clever and started using those new fangled computers to make their cartoons…eh hem, animated shorts and films.

Once Toy Story hit our hot little eye balls, we were mesmerized by the 3D spectacle, and our innocence was gone. Surf’s Up is such a beauty. Trust me on this. I was so busy watching things like hair and water and the infinite detail they can squeeze into every inch of the screen, I sometimes lost track of what was going on. Not to say the story wasn’t interesting, but I would challenge anyone not to get lost in the visual feast that this surfing tale offers up.

So, what is the story? A young penguin from the North Pole, Cody Maverick, goes to a surfing competition on a tropical island where he finds something he wasn’t expecting, a lost hero and of course some self confidence.

The movie is told in semi-documentary style, which everyone mentions in their reviews, yes, it just has to be said. I liked the camera views and style of the movie for two reasons. First, it’s not something we have seen in an animated film, and second, it opens the characters up to express things in a way we don’t get to see animated folks offer up. Normally, even when well written, cartoonish characters are always short of truly believable, for obvious reasons, but in Surf’s Up they have a real real-life quality that I would attribute to the relationship they have with the camera and documentary crew we don’t see. I never was 100% clear as to why they were following the young penguin in the first place, but I guess it doesn’t matter.

The cast is fitting, with voices from Jeff Bridges, Shia LaBeouf, and John Heder. They are distinct enough to stand out and they seem to throw themselves into their roles. I know it’s shallow, I admit it, but it’s cool to see an animated character with a familiar voice. These days they animate after they have the voice tracks down so they can really give the characters the facial expressions and reactions the actors put into their parts.
Between the amazing animation with incredible water and hypnotic penguin fur, it’s hard to fault this movie from a visual stand point. The story has it’s weaknesses, but most of the time I was smiling or quietly entertained. I might have laughed a few times too…but don’t tell anyone.

There are enough grown up references and jokes to keep the older crowd smiling and I can imagine that kids will dig the quirky and charming Cody and other bigger than life personalities. There are genuinely funny lines and scenes, but never underestimate the power of a fart sound to get the crowd giggling.

Video & Audio: (By Ascully) 10/10
This is the first CG Animation movie I have seen in HD and I was not disappointed, the colors and detail in Surf’s Up on Blu-Ray Disc are second to none. When my “not usually impressed” wife commented on how mesmerized she was with the detail in the image on the screen that has to be a rave review. Audio is also impressive, but one thing I did notice are that the music clips that play in the movie don’t seem to be high enough in the mix to give the punch that was intended. Still this is a impressive disc and well worthy of any adult or kid collection.

Value: 6/10
It’s a fun movie to have around, and it’s loaded with extras, but for the Blu-Ray price I say rent it!! If your kids will watch it over and over and over and over, lay out the cash, otherwise, save those dollars for something else, like a season or two of Scooby-Doo on DVD.

Overall Score 8/10