You know, I think I had some pretty inflated expectations of Jason Reitman‘s Up In The Air. After so much talk about what a great film it is and the fact that it garnered a ton of Academy Award nominations I was really expecting it deliver. And it does for a while. But ultimately it just feels hollow and priggish.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Up In The Air. It’s got a whole lot going for it. It’s got a great setup, it’s super-stylish and the performances are, across the board, fantastic. George Clooney is Ryan Bingham, a professional “downsizer” who travels three-hundred days of the year, existing between airplanes and hotels, keeping an emotional and physical distance from everyone in his life until he meets Alex, played by the wonderful Vera Farmiga. Alex lives a parallel lifestyle to Ryan and the two quickly bond over their collections of points cards and traveling perks. But this connection quickly begins to turn Ryan’s world upside down as he realizes that any emotional bond could ground him for good. And there’s the rub. The movement of the whole piece is a little too movie-by-numbers, showing it’s hand early on and remaining quite predictable right to the end, where Ryan learns the exact lesson he’s set up to be taught from the start. I enjoyed the film well enough but the sanctimonious turn it takes really put me off, despite the fine performances and brilliant visual design.
And speaking of visuals, Up In The Air looks absolutely spectacular on Blu-ray. This is a fantastic, clean transfer, with spot on flesh-tones, a nice amount of grain and healthy black levels. Honestly, I could watch the gorgeous opening titles of this film again and again. It seriously looks that good! The DTS-HD MA 5.1 is source-accurate but isn’t going to blow your doors off. Like the video, though, it’s exactly perfect. Very nice indeed.
Up In The Air boasts a respectable amount of special features on the Blu-ray. The commentary track with writer/director Reitman, director of photography Eric Steelberg, and first assistant director Jason Blumenfeld is fairly decent and covers a lot of ground. It’s unique in that it was recorded before the film opened wide and received its critical acclaim, giving us an innocent perspective on the films merits. The 3-minute long “Shadowplay: Before the Story” is an insightful look at the design team resposible for the beautiful opening sequence of the film. I understand that most people couldn’t give a rats ass about such things but I, for one, would have appreciated it if this featurette had been longer. There are also storyboards, a collection of deleted scenes with optional commentary, a music video, a prank video and a trailer.