Sunday, 11 October 2009

Movie Review - PIXAR's "Up"

The tenth full-length PIXAR movie, Up, has quite some reputation to live up to - PIXAR are (despite some great animated movies from Dreamworks and Sony Picture Animations) unquestionably the masters of the genre.  Here in the UK we had to wait 5 months for Up to arrive in cinemas... so was it worth the wait?  Absolutely!

The first thing to know about Up is that the trailers basically blindsided everyone - well, they did me, and I'm guessing that I wasn't the only person to be fooled.  One of the main characters, Carl Fredericksen, simply appeared to be a very grumpy old man intent on getting away from his neighbours by turning his house into a rather unusual airship.  The truth is that Carl is a complex character who certainly can be grumpy when the mood takes him, but his motives for getting away and his basic characteristics were completely different to what I expected.   Add in an enthusiastic young lad looking for the last achievement badge to complete his collection and make the transition from junior to senior member at the Wilderness Explorer's club.  Add in a talking dog (well a whole host of taking dogs actually), a childhood hero who becomes an arch-nemesis, a trip to exotic lands with rare wildlife, and you've just about got enough of the plot to be going on with.

The real key to the movie, however, is the romance between Carl and Ellie, who meet as children and have a long happy marriage, which unfortunately ends prematurely when Ellie dies.  There's a montage of scenes portraying their whole married life together, lasting only a few minutes and with no spoken dialogue; it's absolutely incredible.  If you think the romance between Wall-E and Eve was fantastically portrayed despite them not talking being saying their names, then you'll find this scene even more amazing.  You actually felt like you knew Carl personally after this.  There is another scene later on, which I won't divulge in case whoever's reading this hasn't seen it yet (but those who have will probably know what I'm talking about) that absolutely took my breath away, where Carl suddenly comes to understand his late wife more in a few moments than he ever has done before.  Amazing stuff.

Considering how much is in Up that children won't comprehend, the fact that it's still hugely enjoyable for young children is testament to the genius of PIXAR as film-makers and story-tellers.  There's so much going on in every scene that you could probably watch it several times and constantly find new delights in it.  The overall storyline, especially the undercurrents to what makes Carl do the things he does, are intensely emotional; however the film is also wildly funny and action-packed as well.  Each character had a fully developed and believable back story that unfolds naturally as the story progresses.

The visuals are stunning throughout; PIXAR seem to have this ability to capture every scene perfectly, with an amazing combination of vivid colours, fluid movement and great attention to detail.  The music also deserves a mention - Michael Giacchino's score is superb, and perfectly captures the spirit of every scene.  As you would expect the voice acting is spot on - I haven't heard of many of the voice cast to be honest, but who cares?  They all did a fantastic job.  Edward Asner as Carl Fredericken, Christopher Plummer (have heard of him) as Charles Muntz, Jordan Nagai as Russell (the young boy who always wants to help) were great.  Bob Peterson voiced two very different dogs - evil Alpha Dog and ultra-friendly Dug.  PIXAR regular John Ratzenberger voices a construction worker early on in the movie, making him the only actor whose voice has appeared in all ten PIXAR movies.

There was nothing - seriously, nothing - about Up that I can criticise.  It was perfect.  The only slight criticisms I do have are about the intro short, "Partly Cloudy" - it was okay but nothing more - and the 3D.  There were some nice effects in the 3D, but I still remain unconvinced that it's worth more to see it in 3D (though I continue to pay more to see films in 3D for some reason!)  Oh, and the fact that in the UK we had to wait so long for it - that still annoys me. 

Other PIXAR Movies:

Toy Story 2
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles

See also:

My Top Ten Animated Movies
My Top Ten Computer-Animated Movies

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog


The Mad Hatter said...

I am still impressed and amazed, by the rather dark, very grown-up places Pixar went with that opening montage.

This film is easily one of their best (though I still love WALL-E more).

Happy to hear you found it worth the wait - Great review!

CaptainD said...

The trouble with PIXAR is, almost all of their movies are "one of their best"!

Thanks for your kind words :-D

Christian said...

I loved this movie! definitely one for my DVD collection.