The Attempted Review of Up

Posted by WhenYourGodGivesYouLemons On 4:46 PM

Over at Disney there is a little production company you may have heard of called Pixar Animation. They've done a few films that have created a bit of buzz in the industry like Wall E and there have been calls for them to get nominated for a little something called the Oscars, outside the Best Animated Film category. Their latest film Up is another attempt to break out of the Best Animated category and I think they could very well do it.

What it's All About... Widower Carl has always dreamed of going on an adventure to the lost land of Paradise Falls. When he is forced to leave his home he decides to go on that adventure and take his house with him. With his left over supplies of balloons and hellium, he was a balloon salesman, he attaches 1000 's of balloons to his house and takes off. Little does he know that Russell, a young wilderness explorer, is along for the ride. As the two battle through a storm they manage to reach their destination of Paradise Falls. Once they are there the adventure doesn't end and they soon learn that this is a strange and exotic place filled with danger and the unknown. This is where they meet Kevin a lost species of bird who enjoys chocolate, and regurgating inedible objects. Their encounter with Kevin also results in them meeting Dug a talking dog and his master, the once great explorer Charles Muntz who is looking for Kevin. Carl is forced to make some decisions about where the priorities in his life lie, with the new; Russell, Kevin and Dug or with the old; his house and deceased wife Ellie.

What it did well... The story was brilliant, going in I only knew Carl attached some balloons to his house and flew off but it was far more than that. It was filled with comedy, suspense, a few deep personal decisions and the story behind why he's chosen to do this is brilliant, an endearing love for his deceased wife and the decisions he has to make on the journey and the relationship he built with Russell were very real and belivable. To me the whole film seemed a whole lot more real and somewhat more serious than other Pixar films like Cars. They were real people who dealt with real life problems like death and divorce in relatively real settings and to me this enhanced the effect of the storytelling. Also I think this was close to the first time I had seen blood in a Pixar film and whilst it was a bit of a shock at first it helped to enhance that sense of attachment to certain characters. I also actually liked Russell, I mean yes he was annoying but in the way that all children are annoying yet somewhat funny and cute at the sametime. His pleading to stop walking because his knee was sore although he wasn't sure which one was hilarious and his ability to always speak his mind was very true to a young child.

Kevin and Dug were hilarious as well. They both had a distinct mind of their own which lead to some hilarious and also very sad scenes. I particularly enjoyed Kevin's imitation of Carl and I especially like the way Dug was a combination of a human voice with dog thoughts so he'd be part way through a sentence and all of a sudden "Squirrel" and he'd stop what he was doing to look for the squirrel. It was a credit to both the animation, voice acting and writing that you actually cared for all the characters in this film, not just Kevin and Dug, because they were so well crafted. You didn't want anything bad to happen to them because you cared for them all so much. 

Obviously because it was a Pixar film it had breathtaking animation. While the big picture looked amazing it was the little details that struck me the most like the tag hanging out of one of the orderlies tops and the slow growth of facial hair on Carl's face over the course of the film. These little touches added an even greater sense of realism to the film.

I also enjoyed some of the nods to pop culture in the film like in one scene the dogs were actually playing cards emulating the famous picture and in one of the scenes with the dog pilots they sound off their call sign like in Star Wars.  

What it didn't... I though the film was brilliant and there were only a few things that annoyed me. Dug wasn't the only talking dog, Muntz has heaps of them each with their own voice. I hated the lead dog Alpha's voice, it was this high pitched, squeally voice that just really got on my nerves and considering the other two main dogs had actual actors do their voices couldn't they have found someone? Also towards the end of the film their is a cool but very odd aerial battle. Muntz has a blimp, Carl has his house. To eliminate Carl's house Muntz sends out a squad of planes, flown by dogs. What the hell!!? The film had, for the most part, been a fairly real represenation of things so why then add in ace fighter pilot dogs? It was just a little weird and threw me when I saw it. I could have accepted it if it had been a world full of talking dogs and no humans, some completely bizarre world but this had been set up to seem so close to reality that it was hard to grasp although the scene itself  was quite good and gives a glimpse of Pixar's action potential for any Marvel crossover films.

Memorable Moment... For me it would probably have to be the montage of Carl and his wife Ellie's life. It was such a beautiful yet sad way to start the film. It showed some key moments in their life from the day they married, to the day they found out they couldn't have children, to the daily problems that get in the way of our dreams to the very sad moment when Carl lost Ellie. It was very unexpected to see such seriousness in an animated film but i thought it was great. This sort of serious drama that Pixar has added to Up should make it a shoe-in for a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

What it All Means... Up is an amazing film and to me it is Pixar's best to date. The realistic setting and the few more serious elements make it a powerful film that adults can enjoy whilst the comedy is spot on as always and characters like Kevin and Dug are fantastic and will definetley entertain the whole family. Add a bonus short film at the beginning called Partly Cloudy about clouds who make baby everything's and the friendship between the cloud responsible for the not so cute and cuddly baby animals like a crocodile and electric eel and the poor stalk who has to transport them and you have a thoroughly enjoyable movie experience. I'm giving Up 9 and a half balloons out of 10.



  1. CaptainD Said,

    This will finally be out in the UK soon... feels like I've been waiting forever for this!

    Posted on September 14, 2009 at 2:40 AM

  2. Yea it was only just released here in AUS. It was definetley worth the wait though

    Posted on September 14, 2009 at 10:55 AM


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