Friday, 9 October 2009
Up - Review
As mentioned in my review earlier in the week of Toy Story 3D, Pixar's imagination and talent knows no bounds. The same can once again be said about their 10th feature length film Up. The film centers around a grumpy old man named Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner) and an overeager Wilderness Explorer named Russell who fly to South America in a floating house suspended from helium balloons. That synopsis however does not even begin to describe how beautiful and evocative Up is, taking Pixar's story-telling literally, to new heights.
Amongst the playful, imaginative narrative and wonderful adventure sequences, the film-maker's tackle themes not often seen in a "children's movie" namely death, greif, love and loss. And if you base Up on its stunning opening 10 minutes alone, that summarises Carl's life to date, you have a contender for film of the year. One of the brilliant things about Up is that everything is so preposterous and so 'out there' that it all compliments each other so wonderfully.
Only Pixar could make an old man the hero we all want to be, with a 12 year old sidekick, a loyal talking dog named Doug and a rare, nearly extinct bird called Kevin. It is almost visually like something out of The Wizard Of Oz or Alice In Wonderland. Despite all this, the director manages to humanise everything through the life experience of Carl and his handling of the grief for this recently deceased wife, Ellie. If everyone in this world had the courage and conviction to see out a dream, such as Carl, it would be a much happier and magical place. The villian of the piece, famed explorer Charles F. Muntz, is also handled exceptionally well, introduced in a Citzen Kane esque 1950s cinema news piece about his rise and fall, going into exile in South America with his trained up army of talking dogs and his daunting Zeppelin Airship. One of the stand out comedy moments of the film is both Muntz and Fredricksen having a sword battle, and both of them being over 60 or 70 feeling the ill effects of old age.
It's only tiny flaw, similar to 2008's masterpiece Wall-e, is that it kind of drifts away from the point around the midway mark, and falls into slightly more conventional action adventure trappings, but at the end of the day you have to cater for the 3-12 year olds as well. Darn... One of the reasons I think why Pixar have consistently got it so right over the years, is because all their films as something distinctly pure and innocent about them. A moment where time stops and the audience live in the moment, no matter how fantastic and outrageous it might seem. That's when iconic moments in film are made, and Up has this is abundance.
You will laugh, cry, smile and be left in complete awe and wonder (and that's just in the opening sequence). It does not pain me to say that Pixar have effortlessly, done it again. You will see very few films, never mind animated, this year as moving, hilarious and touching as the story of Carl Fredricksen in Up. With each release Pixar set new standards and raise higher bars for themselves and they always keep surpassing them, we all have our favourites (mine being Rataouille, Wall-e, Toy Story 1 and 2...and now Up) and we all have our lesser favourites (Cars, A Bug's Life and Finding Nemo) however no one can deny Pixar as the most important and innovative animators of the 21st Century so far. And the world is a better place for it.
See this if you like...
Toy Story 1 and 2, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Wall-e, Cars, Ratatouille, The Incredibles and...well you get the idea...
Also look out for the traditional Pixar short film that precedes the main feature of Up, Partly Cloudy.