Director: Pete Docter
Cast: Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson
Plot: An old man decides to finally fulfil a promise he made to his dead wife, a decision that proves a little more tricky than originally planned.
Up is a truly beautiful piece of cinema. It portrays its characters amazingly well, using every frame to bring out the best of the story. It reveals itself to be a very emotional journey, bringing tears and smiles to the faces of every audience member. It has some of the most stunning use of the character development I have had the honour of watching on a cinema screen. What else? Oh yeah, I am talking about the first ten minutes of the movie.
Yes, while Up holds the title of the best opening scene of an Animation, the rest of the movie does not falter. It tells the story of an ageing man, grown stubborn and grumpy, after the death of his wife. As the world changes around him, he remembers making a promise to his wife, Ellie, that he would take her to Paradise Falls, before she sadly passed away. In a moment of madness, he attaches a string of balloons to his house and floats away to South America to find this place. However, he accidentally abducts a persistent young boy, desperate to earn his ‘help the elderly’ badge for Scouts. When they get there, they uncover a sinister plot to hunt a rare bird and Mr. Frederickson has to decide whether he wants to help this young boy and this rare animal, or simply hold onto the past.
That plot fires out two main worries for anyone he hasn’t seen it yet. One, that is far too much emotion for a kids film and while adults will definitely appreciate that opening scene I described above, or the few final beats where Mr. Frederickson finds a message from his wife, they probably won’t be sharing this movie with any youngsters for some time. The other thing is that tying balloons to a house to float to South America sounds very absurd and surreal. How can anyone make a coherent story out of that? Both of those problems can be solved with a single word: Pixar. Despite stunning animation and perfect visuals, Pixar have always believed that story is the most important element of a movie. Therefore, they expertly weave the heavy stuff with the light stuff, giving both kids and adults a movie they will never forget. And as for the surreal stuff: have we really gotten too cynical to relax into the world of a child’s imagination?
Up deserves so much praise because it really does marry this idea of adult movies and kids movie so well. Yes, maybe it does have a lot of really emotional stuff that will go over most kids’ heads, but at the same time, there are an evil army of loveable dogs and this bright, wacky bird called Kevin that always manages to steal a laugh from the script. My main fear with Up was the fact that it didn’t have as much of a gimmick as most Pixar movies. This is a movie without the key theme of toys, superheroes or bugs. However, somehow it has won its way into my heart as one of the best Pixar movies to date, simply because the director and writers know the perfect way to weave an interesting tale.
But while I like talking about how great the story is, I cannot ignore the actual animation. The last animation I reviewed was the Polar Express and I think those two films handle action in a very unique way. Polar Express threw everything at you, set-piece after set-piece, with interesting things to look at, jumping from every side of the screen. It was very hectic and personally I found it rather tiring. A lot of animation movies do this, throwing every possible joke or sight at you, hoping that something sticks. The final fight scenes in Up felt much more precise. This action was planned in advance. And I felt the movie was so much better for it. It shows a certain amount of maturity in our animation. I tend to avoid animated films, but if they are as good as Up, I will certainly work on changing that mind-set.
Final Verdict: Quite simply one of the most amazing movies Pixar has brought out yet. And that really is saying something.