There is something very impressive about the opening of Up. In the space of ten minutes it tells a story that is so well-delivered that you become invested and feel for the characters involved as you watch a life unfold. It is made even more impressive when you realise it is done with little dialogue and just a great score and some heartfelt animation. It also under-pins a whole movie which offers something unique to anything Pixar has delivered before.
It is easy to forget how good the rest of the movie is when you focus so much on that opening but Up is a movie full of surprises. The real draw isn’t the opening moments but the amazing visual that follows of a house lifted by hundreds of balloons and making it’s way on an adventure. Consequently, that is exactly what Up is: a great adventure movie. The film is one of many different tones but this exemplifies a lot of what the film is about.
It is such a unique concept that it is difficult to focus on exactly what Up is about. It begins as an old man’s quest to complete a promise to a dead loved one but soon becomes a mission of exploration in a strange jungle, joined by a misfit bunch of characters. Some of which are part of what makes Up so appealing.
Carl Fredrickson is the ageing explorer and he is brought to life well by Edward Asner who adds his grouchy voice talents to the character perfectly. It is the lovable old man that is equally irritated but full of heart. Add to him a young boy, desperate to impress, called Russell and you have a good double-act which ensures the comedy never stops.
The real winning stroke is the dogs. Due to a great plot device, the dogs in Up can talk but still retain their usual dog characteristics. This makes for some excellent scenes, particularly involving canine hero Dug who just wants to please his “master” and complete his own personal mission.
Up is a film filled with these smaller plot points which help drive the bigger plot and it makes for an interesting concept overall. It defines category and you are never sure where the film is going to go next but it never stops entertaining. What this does lead to is a slightly muddled tone. At times the film is very funny and plays heavily on the comedy while at other times it is a darker movie, particularly as Carl fights for the right to stay in his own home and the unfortunate desperate means he goes to as he defends it.
Luckily there is enough here to see the movie through and it relies successfully on it’s heart. You can’t help but feel happy, with a huge smile on your face, as the pieces fall into place and the finale ends with a great feel-good scene before the credits roll.
Overall, Up is Pixar at it’s best. It is an original concept with some fantastic moments and iconic scenes. It also has a vast array of interesting ideas and characters which drive the comedy and the unpredictable plot forward. It defies category except for being an accomplished animated movie.
Rating – 4.5
(1 – AWFUL, 2 – AVERAGE, 3 – GOOD, 4 – GREAT, 5! – MUST SEE)
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