Plot: What’s it about?
Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) has big dreams, as he wants to leave Antarctica for warmer waters and become a world famous surfer. But his current lifestyle doesn’t offer much hope, since he works at a fish sorting plant and is always bullied by his older brother. But Cody remains optimistic and is sure he could become the next legend like his hero Big Z, if only he was given a chance. When he is finally given a break, it turns out to be a huge one and Cody is invited to compete in a Hawaiian surfing contest, the same one Big Z was last seen at. He wants to make a splash and he does, wiping out in his first run. But he then meets Geek (voiced by Jeff Bridges), who tries to instill a more laid back outlook in the young penguin. With some help from Geek and other new friends, can Cody prove he deserves to a surf legend?
The theaters have been flooded with computer animated features, with a recent fascination focused on penguins. We’ve seen them break out of a zoo, belt out show tunes, and we’ve even seen their real life brethren march. So now of course, it only makes sense to have a movie where the penguins surf, right? Surf’s Up might be more penguins, but it takes a fresh approach, with a documentary style presentation. Not as we’re watching the documentary mind you, but in that the characters are part of one, which is a cool concept. The movie itself is good, but not great or all that unique. The writing is solid, with a good amount of humor and not as much lowbrow stuff as you might expect. The animation looks excellent and provides some beautiful visuals, while the voice talent involved is also top notch. I had a good time with Surf’s Up and while it is no classic, it is fun and I recommend the movie, especially in this superb Blu-ray version.
Video: How does it look?
Surf’s Up is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This movie has a stylized visual design, as the film tries to have a documentary like texture. That means the visuals don’t pop out like in most animated features of this kind, but the image still looks good and preserves the intended presentation. The colors are bright and contrast is accurate, while detail is high and provides a good amount of depth. I saw this movie in the theater and without question, this high definition transfer represents a dead on, accurate replication of how Surf’s Up should look.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wasn’t too impressed with the audio on the standard release, but that changed when I listened to this uncompressed PCM 5.1 option. The surf sequences sound awesome here, with powerful waves and a great overall atmosphere. You will think you’re hanging ten yourself, the soundtrack is that effective. Not all the scenes are as memorable, but the overall movie sounds great and this PCM soundtrack is a marked improvement. I found dialogue to be clean and clear throughout also, while the music has a lot of presence in this presentation. This disc also includes a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
l of the extras from the standard release are back, plus a new audio commentary track from the visual effects squad. This new session is more lively than the filmmakers’ track, with some good information on the technical side of production. Not a landmark track, but a solid one that is worth a listen. The rest of the supplements were ported over, Chris Buck and Ash Brannon give us a directors’ commentary, which proves to be decent, but dull and lifeless. If you’re going to do one of these, at least have some energy for your own movie, right? A number of featurettes are also included, but all six are basically promotional in nature and provide little to no insight into the production. I know this is a movie aimed at children, but it would still be nice to have some kind of substance here. The best of the extras are two bonus animated shorts, The ChubbChubbs and The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas, both fun and well worth a look. This disc also includes progression reels, deleted scenes, and a Lauryn Hill music video.