Up in the Air (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Paramount - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Dramedy

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Brazilian Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Danny McBride, Jason Bateman
Written & Directed by: Jason Reitman
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 9, 2010

"The story of a man ready to make a connection"

Film Synopsis:

Ryan Bingham (Academy Award® winner* George Clooney) is truly living the high life. Flying all over the world on business, he never stops moving...until he meets Alex, a fellow passenger and learns that life isn't about the journey, but the connections we make along the way.

My Take:


Ryan Bingham (Clooney) works for Career Transition Counseling a company that is subcontracted by various corporations to conduct layoffs (sometimes on a large scale) and to prepare severance packages etc. for those being terminated. He is also hired often as a motivational speaker to inspire those in the workforce to reach for loftier goals by ridding themselves of lifes excess baggage. He is on the road (or should I say in the air) an average of 320 days a year and considers himself a valued commodity in the world of air travel/rewards. His goal is to be the youngest person ever to rack up 10 million frequent flyer miles which will place him in exclusive company and afford him the perks that go along with it. Ryan has mastered the art of letting people go and avoids the pitfalls associated with showing any signs of compassion or understanding when doing so. He has a seemingly glib approach to his personal life and sees it as more of a nuisance than a comfort. He treats his relationships very much the same. That is until he meets Alex (Farmiga), a traveling professional much like himself who prefers the almost constant escapism provided by a job that keeps you away from home. The two begin an open affair that is guided by their schedules and an impassioned attraction that is fueled by their appreciation of being on the go with no entanglements. Ryan's world is turned upside down when his boss Craig (Bateman) hires a young, bright Cornell graduate, Natalie, (Kendrick) who comes up with a plan to handle the service his company provides via video conferencing. Ryan strongly objects to implementing something that not only completely removes all personal contact but also puts an end to the aspect of his job that he most treasures. Craig decides to send Natalie and Ryan on the road so that Ryan can show her the ropes while the video conferencing system is put online. As they travel together and interact Ryan comes to see the essence of the impact of what they do through Natalie as she experiences the devastation as seen through the eyes of people who lose their financial security with the swipe of a pen. Ryan finds that his relationship with Alex is closer to his heart than he wants to admit when he invites her to be his date at his estranged sister's wedding. Ryan's relationships with both of these women will forever change his outlook on both his personal and professional life. The outcome of which makes for one of the year's best films.

I was eager to see this film based upon the praise and Academy Award nominations it has received. Often times films like this that are highly lauded wind up being not quite as good as expected. After seeing Up in the air I am happy to report that it was as rewarding a film as I'd hoped. This is most decidedly an adult drama/romance but its light comedic edge gives it a faceted side that is appealing. At its heart I think that it's poignant as it speaks to the economic climate and the growing number of people losing their jobs. The film also presents the human side to that equation as seen through the eyes of those suffering the humiliation of being laid off despite their professional competence. The story's elements are intelligently integrated and make for an interesting, witty and entertaining expose that may not be profound but is readily engaging. Writer/director Jason Reitman absolutely nailed these archetypes and the film's situational structure as he balances its varied conceptual design without straying too far in any direction (thereby watering them down). I loved the cinematography and camera work which played an integral role in conveying the decisiveness and emotion in each sequence involving the firing of an employee. Clooney and Kendrick gave superb performances and I appreciated the use of quality character actors serving in the various roles of those losing their respective jobs as I think it added depth/credibility to the cast. I thoroughly enjoyed Up in the air and its portrayal of a unique guy that thinks he has it all figured out only to have it cave in around him before coming full circle. I am not so sure it is the best film of the year but it is deserving of the recognition and accolades it has received.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, some sexual content, and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 84

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Video: 90

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Up in the air comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 mbps.

This is an excellent high definition video presentation that offers impressive transparent imagery. The color palette is deliberately subdued and held to primary use of black, grays, whites, and blues that give it a cooler emphasis. Colors are rendered well with realistic looking depth and detail. This is a solid, high bitrate encoding that delivers superlative image resolution. Close ups reveal high level detail that allows the pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and subtle variations in the complexions of the cast to be perceivable. The texture on the surfaces of objects is just as defining which give them visibly apparent structure and tangible quality. Black levels and contrast are excellent and visible detail within dark backgrounds and shadows are equally as strong. The video has a filmic and pristine quality that appears devoid of video related anomalies and artifacts. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack hit all of the high points and mated quite well with the program material. This is essentially a dialogue driven soundtrack but it makes good use of the surround field to reproduce the music score, ambient background details and a few discretely mixed spatial cues. Low frequency detail has solid weight and depth when applied but there was rarely a call for it. Dialogue was rich with excellent tonal distinction and crystal clarity. I enjoyed the open and transparent nature of this mix as it definitely had a realistic and you are there' feel to it.

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by writer/director Jason Reitman, director of photography Eric Steelberg, and fisrt assistant director Jason Blumenfeld

  • (HD) Shadow play: Before the story - a brief look at this small boutique studio and their contribution to the production - 2 minutes

  • (HD) By yourself music video by Sad Brad Smith

  • (HD) Storyboards

  • (HD) 13 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Jason Reitman

  • (HD) American Airlines prank - 1 minute

  • (HD) Teaser and theatrical trailers

Final Thoughts:

Up in the air is an intelligently crafted, well enacted and multifaceted film about a guy that thinks he has it all figured out only to have it cave in around him. He comes full circle after experiencing that perhaps there is more to life. I thoroughly enjoyed its superb direction and strong performances which have garnered it a multitude of accolades from Hollywood including Academy Award nominations. It's debut on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount is technically rock solid as it looks and sounds terrific in high definition. I found the less than comprehensive bonus feature package to be disappointing but it doesn't prevent this disc from being a worthy addition to your collection. Highly Recommended.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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Old 03-07-2010, 12:49 PM
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I'll be renting this next week. As someone who hasn't seen the movie yet the only problem I have with this BR so far is that damn cover. They must of spent a whole 10 minutes on Photoshop coming up with that cover.
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:08 PM
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Just saw this in the theaters yesterday and it was great. Will pick this one up for sure.

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Old 03-07-2010, 08:20 PM
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(-) borefest plot & story
(+)/(-)clooney acting
(+) movie ends after a while, dont know what happens i woke up during credits, someone stepped on my foot walking out. rude people didnt even say sorry.
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:03 AM
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This was a good one. The outside scene with the cement and buildings was a true eye opener. I'm not sure the word or words I am looking for but the bumpy cement can clearly be seen and you could make out the bumps and the sidewalk you could see very clearly. The areal shots were also very good. So many scenes in this movie had very good depth (even the background and far away objects). I just had to comment on how good the picture quality was on this movie. Some of the shots in this movie were actually some of the best I have seen on Blu-ray yet.
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Old 03-08-2010, 07:28 AM
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Great film!!

Well played characters and great story as well. Ending was unexpected and sad but overall thought this was a really good film.


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Old 03-08-2010, 08:26 AM
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They should have released this one a week ago, before it got manhandled at the Oscars. I'll go rent this one, eventually.

Blu Ray... 3-D TV... 4K... I Like New STUFF!!!

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Old 03-08-2010, 08:29 AM
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Thanks for the excellent review, Ralph. I am looking forward to seeing this on Blu-ray.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:21 AM
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I watched this last week, and agree with Ralph. Better than I was expecting!

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Old 03-08-2010, 08:25 PM
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Not a Clooney fan at all, but I tend to like his movies. I call it the Hugh Grant syndrome, cause it's the same thing with that guy. Anyway, nice review Ralph....this one is arriving to my mailbox on Tuesday so I'm looking forward to checking it out....after Black Dynamite, of course!
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Old 03-09-2010, 04:29 PM
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Just finished watching this on Blu-ray. I've got somewhat of a different take. While I thought it was a pretty good film, I don't think its on the same ground as any of the other best picture nominees. It was a good little film...but no Basterds or Hurt Locker. Take away Clooney and it would have been fairly forgettable. I also didn't get supporting actress nominations either...again thought the performances were very forgettable.

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Old 03-09-2010, 10:34 PM
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Spot on review, Ralph! It's nice to see Blu-Ray quality display the true horror of Detroit in the winter. This is a wonderful film that mirrors our times. George Clooney does his best work as a charachter that finds it difficult to change even when life around him changes. The two ladies deserved their Oscar nominations. They played women who were flawed but real. There is room for all kinds of movies and this film is the best of it's kind.
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Old 03-10-2010, 08:37 AM
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I enjoyed the film last night.

All accolades were just.

I think George Clooney is going to have a problem ever getting an Oscar because, like Cary Grant, he is always George Clooney in his films. His vocal and facial mannerisms are just too "George".

This role was one of the best I've seen George play on the big screen. Unfortunately, his character was supposed to be emotionally detached and this made the role less flashy for an actor.

I'm still scratching my head over last year's selection of Sean Penn for Milk, so I may not be the best judge of acting skills.
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Old 03-11-2010, 08:08 AM
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I enjoyed this film much better than I originally expected. The story kept me entertained throughout, and there were even a couple of unexpected twists along the way as well. Well written, directed and paced films like this one is what makes movie watching a true joy!

I'd highly recommend checking this movie out sooner than later...
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Old 03-11-2010, 09:13 AM
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I saw this last night and loved it! I rented from Netflix, but I'll definitely be picking this one up when it drops in price. The PQ was also phenomenal...some of the best facial closeups I've seen to date!

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Old 03-22-2010, 10:58 AM
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Totally agree with your review Ralph. I scored it the same way.

The outdoor shots were beautiful and crisp. Color overall, and flesh tones were spot on. This is one fantastic transfer!

I found the writing to be superb, especially the natural interactions and dialogue of the characters. Very real, and funny in many parts. Doing a decent amount of travelling myself, I found many of the airport check-in and hotel scenerious to be spot on.

Clooney is a master at this type of role, and played the part spot on. Farmiga was a pleasant surprise, and fit in perfect. I have second thoughts about Kendrick. I know the type of actor they were going for in her role, but she lacked a little authentisity to her role, and made it a little more difficult for me to take her seriously. She did a fine job, but not on the same level as Clooney and Farmiga.

PQ 4.5 out of 5, SQ 4 out of 5, Film 4.5 out of 5.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy character and dialogue driven films, with a good touch of humor.

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