Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guest Columnist: Gianna reviews "Up"

Up, Pixar’s 10th feature film is another fantastic addition to their already impressive canon of films. It follows the late-life adventure of Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner), a newly widowed elderly man, who dreamed with his wife of going to live in South America’s Paradise Falls-a jungle wilderness discovered by their childhood hero explorer Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer). When the threat of being ejected from his beloved house looms, Carl decides to tie millions of helium balloons to his house and set off for his beloved South American destination. Of course along the way there are a few problems thrown his way; an unwitting stowaway, an electrical storm and his old childhood hero: who has been living in Paradise Falls along with his army of dogs.

Up, strongpoint is Pixar’s always-stellar animation. The storm sequence is particularly stunning animation achievement. The wordless opening piece of Carl’s life with his wife is sweet and touching. Voicework and character design blend seamlessly together, as opposed to other animated films that like to draw attention to their famous voice actors. Especially impressive is the detail and thought done to the animating and execution of the dog army. However, Up is not without its shortcomings. Mainly I felt the some of the story might have been lost to edit it down to a more kid-friendly time of 96 minutes. There’s a lot going on in Up, but we rarely do more than scrape the surface. The character of Charles Muntz suffers greatly from his limited screen-time, not really allowing us to get invested in him as the villain of the film. There are also some issues of improbability, but I guess it’s hard to really argue that as a detraction of a film who’s main plot is flying a house to South America with helium balloons.

In all Up is still a charming, wonderful film. It’s not a masterpiece like Toy Story, Finding Nemo or WALL-E, but it is far better than the mass-produced animation junk that is so prevalent nowadays.

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