Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Movie Review: Up
This past weekend I went to see Disney/Pixar's 10th team up, Up. Pixar continues its constant streak of making just incredibly fantastic films with Up, which may be one of the best films in Disney's long history. A bit of a side note, I actually saw Up twice, one in 2D with my niece, Lexy, who is 4 years old. I got the privilege of taking her to her very first movie and I thought that was great. (BTW she loved it too). Later that night I saw it again with Jason and Autumn in 3D and it was even more incredible!
Anyway, Up is the story about a man named Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner), who decides after an incident that may force him to leave his home and move to a retirement community, to go on the adventure of a lifetime that he had been dreaming of since he was just a boy by traveling to South America. As a balloon salesmen his whole life, he decides to attach balloons to his beloved house and sail away in it. In the process a young Wilderness Ranger named Russell (newcomer Jordan Negei) gets trapped on his porch and joins his adventure as well, to gain the last merit badge he needs to become a senior scout, Helping the Elderly.
They fly into a storm, but with the help of Russell's GPS, they get almost to the spot that Carl has dreamed off since he was a boy, Paradise Falls. Falling out of the house, they manage to tie themselves to the house and will walk the house to the spot like a giant parade balloon (as neither can climb back up the rope). As they walk they encounter Dug, a dog with a talking collar and Kevin, a giant rare bird that both take a liking to the pair. When Carl and Russell run into the owner of the dog, Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer) they realize it is the same hero that inspired Carl as a boy to take this journey. Unfortunately, Muntz plans for Kevin aren't in line with the Wilderness Rangers code and Carl must decide to help Russell, or get his house where it needs to go before the helium in the balloons run out.
Up is directed by Peter Doctor, whose last film, Monster's Inc, was really one of the more under-rated films from Pixar. This film though shatters through almost everything else Pixar has ever done. The story is so compelling and poignant, and sad. This is the first film to make me cry since the last Lord of the Rings and I actually cried twice and probably could have cried a third time. The first ten minutes are so powerful, full of emotion and set such a tone for the rest of the film I had tears in my eyes. Carl's story is just so touching in these first ten minutes, and its all told without words, just pictures. Simply beautiful.
The voice cast is small but Asner brings that gruff, crusty good naturedness that fit him so well as Lou Grant in Mary Tyler Moore he is perfect as Carl. What is great about Pixar is that they don't even need voice talent to tell a good story, and every character is just perfectly cast. Bob Peterson keeps the film light hearted when it needs it as Dug the Dog and the voice talent of young Carl and his friend Ellie is some of the best youth voice acting I have ever heard.
I don't know what can be said about the animation other than that it was perfect. whether in 2D or 3D, it is vibrant and lush. Each character design is unique and unlike anything I have ever seen. I cannot say anything bad about the animation. My only minor complaint in the whole film is a small but where Muntz sends his dogs after Russell in a couple of bi-planes. I could deal with the talking dogs as an element of this world they created that works, but i thought the dogs flying was a bit over the top. Don't let this fool you though. Up is quite simply one of the best movies you are going to see this year.
I already predict that this movie is ranking in my top 5 this year and I can honestly say that I liked it better than Star Trek. Go see Up! Go, right now, it is that good. Oh, and bring a Kleenex, cause if this movie doesn't choke you up then you may be dead inside. Up, from Disney/Pixar, by Pete Doctor. This years sure fire best animated movie, hands down.
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