Thursday, June 04, 2009

Movie Review: Up

I knew nothing about Up except what I saw in the very brief trailer. Old man, house, balloons, boy scout; and of course that it was made by Pixar. This isn't a new favorite Pixar film for me but it was fun.

Wall-E wasn't an aberration. Pixar has remastered the art of telling stories visually, as well as Chaplin or Keaton or Lloyd. Wall-E sustained it for much longer and managed to describe an unfamiliar world and star. Up describes a lifetime of joy and tragedy in the ten opening minutes. It was poignant, but it also felt quite familiar. Then the film gets underway with a curmudgeonly Carl Fredricksen living alone in a house that is the last holdout surrounded by urban development. I've seen that plot point in an episode of Las Vegas. Then is just a matter of time before we see the elements of the trailer. I haven't seen a pack of balloons lift a house before, but lifting a man in a lawn chair was already done on Mythbusters (confirmed).

I won't give away where the film goes from there but it gets a lot more fun. Russell, the young boy scout is much more entertaining than I expected. Some new characters are introduced in the middle who I found completely unexpected and very very funny. It also gets to some pure adventure scenes that bring some life to it.

The execution is as perfect as usual. Beautiful visuals, well designed and rendered characters, and great voice work. These aren't celebrity voices hired for their names, these are voices perfect for the characters. I didn't see it in 3D though I might. All the reviews I've read say the same thing, the 3D is nice but not overdone and it might detract from the vibrancy of the colors. They all seem to use the word "might".

The message in this film is more heavy handed than in other Pixar films and I think it's more useful for adults than children; though it's packaged in a way kids won't mind. I still like Wall-E, The Incredibles and Nemo more. They brought you into new worlds and this was a little too grounded in reality. Though the balloons are the obvious metaphor for taking off, they didn't do as much for me as the new characters introduced in the middle.

I had forgotten about the opening shorts and was thrilled to see one. More films should start with a short so that more people see them. This was Partly Cloudy which addresses two questions: where do the storks get the babies from and does it work the same way for animals? It's pretty cute but not their best.


The Dad said...

Just saw it (not in 3D, of course). While it's a very good movie, it won't have the staying power of the Pixar greats. It was a good moral (life's a trip, not a destination) and the usual good graphics, but there were a couple of key bits missing.


I'm not so sure it made sense that the old man immediately tried to protect the bird rather than letting his idol know it was around up to that point, Muntz, the adventurer, did nothing to make old Carl think he was evil or worthy of anything less than finally getting his prize. I also thought the dog translators, while cute, didn't make a ton of sense in that Muntz's background wasn't as an inventor. But anyways...

Howard said...

Thanks for letting me know. I've read so many reviews that think this was the best Pixar film and I just don't get it.


I agree the dogs made no sense, but they were so funny I was willing to overlook that. I also agree the Carl/Muntz thing turned too quickly. It also didn't help that Carl was an ass for a lot of the film and you knew he would soften by the end; same problem Cars had.