A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
The announcement of “Toy Story 4” has sparked some division amongst fans. With the Disney Pixar juggernaut once again coming back for more, it seemed appropriate to re-visit one of the recent classics; a film that may just be their most ambitious to-date.
“Up”, one of 2009’s best films, is a touching, heart-breaking, humorous and admirable adventure tale that borders on the surreal at some points. It takes a brave narrative approach that is more or less unconventional, and for that, it deserves grand applause.
“Up” is a tale about Carl, a widower who lives an isolated, frustrated and regretful life. He had a dream of travelling to South America with his wife back in the day, but sadly, the happily married couple never made it.
Fed up by the constant construction and infrastructure that interrupts his somewhat solemn, basic life on a daily basis, Carl decides to fulfil his late wife’s dream and embarks on an adventure like no other. Fashioning a helium ballon-based house navigation vehicle, or basically a floating house, Carl travels through the vast, endless skies, encountering foreign lands, ambitious children, talking dogs, exotic avian life and even a childhood hero. The story is truly one of a kind.
“Up” screams a lot of things from the narrative alone; predominantly, a fairytale. When a fairytale is broken down and analysed, there is usually so much substance that intertwines, combines and adds to the overall themes, messages and symbolic nature, that it can sometimes be forgotten or missed in the first place.
For example, “Up” has one of the most memorable opening sequences in any animated film from Disney/Pixar. I’m not ashamed to say that the first time I watched “Up” with my family, I did exactly what the creator wanted me to do, and balled my eyes out. It is such a heart-wrenching opening 10 minutes that sets the scene, paints the picture and establishes everything regarding plot, character and motives to a tee.
We see the tie-in between the radicle change of events that come later on in the story, and we get a true understanding of exactly how in love Carl and his late wife were – it is above all, a beautiful love story at it’s core.
Not only is this one of Disney Pixar’s best pictures, it is such a brilliant idea to pursue, only these creative geniuses could pull it off in such spectacular fashion.
A sign of a true family-oriented picture is when there are both child-targeted and grown up-targeted elements that everyone can enjoy. “Up” is endearing, saddening, astonishing and a spectacle to watch unravel; I regret not seeing this in the theatres upon release.
The animation exhibited in “Up” is of course, flawless. There is so much attention to detail in the film and it really adds to the believability of these cartoonish characters. Every character and scenario, although surreal, is so well realised and believable, it is a true credit to the animation teams involved.
From the balloons to the pictures on the mantlepiece, to the facial expressions and movement of the humans, it is all perfect! It can only get better as far as animation is concerned, and personally, I can’t wait to see where they go from here.
The characters are so well rounded and explored, the arks are sensational, especially that of Carl. He is a man that you both cheer for and want to cheer up. In his frail, weary nature, it’s surprising to see such a change in attitude, energy and all round appearance when reflecting on the Carl we are introduced to in the first place; there is an element of rebirth in his character, and it makes for fantastic viewing.
The supporting cast are marvellous, particularly a bird named Kevin. Who would have thought that these animation pioneers could capture the true animalistic nature of a fictitious bird and add so much humour, sympathy and overall joy to the otherwise backgrounded beast.
At points, Kevin really steals the show, but then again, each cast member have their moments of greatness.
However, where the film lacks a bit is in the villain. It is set up rather well, and the interaction is quite good to watch, however it seems like the villain’s henchmen, who are talking dogs possess a greater sense of dread and threat than their master.
That is saying something, as the lead dog character has a voice that sounds as though he engulfed one of Carl’s helium balloons.
Charles Muntz is a solid antagonist, however his actions seem a bit too drastic and over the top, but there is definitely room for debate regarding that.
“Up” is a successful tale that deserves all the recognition it receives. It is one of Disney Pixar’s more ambitious pictures that possesses true heart and soul.
It is humorous, poignant, entertaining and sometimes even frightening – “Up” literally has everything, even blood! What?!
This is definitely one for the whole family that includes the trademark charm and genius of modern pinnacle animation, as well as a mixed bag of everything and anything!