Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Up

Finally, after having waited for a considerable amount of time, too long in fact, I am now finally able to review the annual Pixar release, this year's release being Up. To get this off my chest, I will not deny that I absolutely love Pixar. I feel that Pixar are the only animation studio in the world, including Japanese giant Studio Ghibli, that releases consistently great films. Also, Pixar is not just the best animation studio in the world, it is one of the best studio's in the world, going strong both critically and commercially with a resume that can perhaps only in these terms be matched by the likes of Steven Spielberg. Having released what I feel to be their masterpiece Wall-E last year, Pixar have a tough act to follow with Up. In Up, Edward Asner voices Carl Fredrickson, a widower who has been given a court order to move to a retirement home following a debacle with a construction worker, decides to fly away to South America in an aircraft that consists of his house being kept afloat by helium baloons with Russell, a young Scout who has accidentally stowed away on is porch, much to the old man's displeasure. This is quite clearly Pixar once again doing their brilliant high-concept and absolutely magical tales which captivate all with their fantastical and heartwarming nature. To start with what is good about Up, and there is a lot of good about this film, the voice acting is absolutely great. Edward Asner is superb in his vocals as Carl, portraying excellently both the sweet and grumpy sides of this multi-faceted character. Also, Jordan Nagai gives a charming performance as Russell, capturing perfectly the innocence and hyperactivity of his character, also managing to overcome the fact that this could well have been a very annoying character. Direction from Pete Doctor, director of Monsters Inc., is also strong, once again proving himself as one of the most valuable members of the Pixar stable. As seen previously in Monster's Inc., Docter once again injects his own personal morality into the tale, the message of Up being to realise and appreciate all the good in the world all around you, a message which is very uplifting and refreshing considering film's seeming obsession with darkness and edge. This is one of the qualities that makes the Pixar studio so brilliant, always looking at the good in the world, but not unafraid to undertake challenging material. The best thing about Up in my opinion is the script. Here in Up, we are really taken off guard in our introduction to the life of Carl Fredrickson, portraying a very tragic and very human story. Then, throughout the film, Carl rediscovers his humanity, an ultimately heartwarming character arc. Without question however, this would not be a review of a Pixar movie without mentioning it's animation. Once again, the studio outdoes themselves, with the animation here advancing on the human animation seen in their previous project The Incredibles. With their lush colour palett, brilliant designs and contrasting sights from the obviously fantastical to the near photo-realistic, as the innovators of 3D-animation, Pixar prove to all, not that they need to do so already, that they are the kings of the animation world. Whilst certainly Up is a highly commendable film that is one of the year's best, there are a couple of niggling flaws which restrict the film from being a masterpiece. One of the main problems with Up is that Pixar films do attempt to balance out the emotional horizon between sentimentalisation and darkness. While the film stands up only many merits, in Up I feel that the balance teeters too much in the direction of sentiment, without accessing some of the more challenging themes which could have also been adressed. Also, despite containing moments of genuine beauty and majesty at various parts of the film, there are a few scenes during the travels of our characters which do drag on and do seem to be there merely for filler. Despite these flaws, this does not change the fact that Up is one of the best films of the year, with wonderful animation, great vocal performances from Asner and Nagai in particular, alongside a strong story which makes this film another worthy member of the Pixar canon.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.5/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Warmed

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