Surf's Up (Blu-ray)
Surf's Up (Blu-ray, available October 9), a new computer animated film, isn't as groundbreaking as Final Fantasy. Nor is it likely to grab the Academy Award as best animated feature in a Ratatouille year. But despite all that, and despite the fact that this is the 196th movie in the past two years to feature penguins (OK, the third, unless I somehow missed the other 193), it's still a lot of fun.
Here we have surfing penguins (!!)—if you haven't already figured that out from the title or the cover art. The story, told in a pseudo-documentary style, follows Cody, a young, surfing-obsessed penguin from Shiverpool, Antarctica, to the tropical the penguin surfing paradise of Pen Gu Island. There he plans to enter, and win, a big surfing contest.
Surf's Up isn't a serious, documentary look at the penguin lifestyle. Nor does it slip in a message about evil humans disrupting the penguin ecosystem. Yes, along the way Cody does learn the value of friendship, and that winning isn't everything. But the message is no more heavy-handed than the nearly identical twist at the end of Cars. (For other opinions, Google Vince Lombardi and George Patton.)
What we have here is simply a good time at the movies. What a concept! It's hilarious, and while kids will certainly enjoy it, no one who likes a good comedy, of any age, will be bored.
The computer animated images are beautifully rendered. They aren't as ambitious or detailed as in many other animated films on BD and HD DVD, particularly The Wild, Happy Feet, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. But you won't be disappointed.
The uncompressed 5.1-channel PCM audio is good (a TrueHD track is also available), but apart from a few climactic scenes it isn't up to the spectacular standards set by numerous other recent animated movies. It serves the film well, but words like "awesome" or "wow" don't appear in my notes.
Picture: 9.0….Sound: 8.0….Film: 8.0
(Reviewed on an InFocus IN82 1080p projector and Stewart Studiotek 130, 78" wide, 16:9 screen, with a Samsung BD-P1200 Blu-ray player, an Onkyo TX-SR875 Surround Sound Receiver (used as a pre-pro) and an Anthem Statement P5 power amplifier. Also a Revel B15 subwoofer with Revel Ultima Studio2, Voice2, and Gem2 speakers.)