Summer Movie Catch-Up: Josh Reviews Up
I’ve written about a few of the films that I’ve seen this summer (click here for my review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, here for my review of Year One, and here for my review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) but there are a lot more that I’ve seen but haven’t had time to write about. Hence, this first installment of my Summer Movie Catch-Up!
Let’s start with Pixar’s latest opus, Up.
Carl (voiced by the great Ed Asner) is an elderly widower, living alone in his small house. When we meet him, it seems that all of the happiness has been drained from his life, and the only thing that gives him any energy at all is his cranky refusal to sell his home to the real-estate developers who want to purchase his land.
When things take a turn for the worse, and it looks like Carl is going to lose his home after all, he comes up with a cartoon movie plan to escape — and also to fulfill one of the life-long dreams that he and his wife shared.
The trailers for this film were remarkably successful in refusing to spoil any of the wonderful weirdness that happens next, and I won’t either. Suffice it to say, after a fairly serious beginning, to my delight and surprise the movie takes several sharp left turns into loony mayhem. It winds up channeling almost as much adventure-serial energy as did The Incredibles — something I was not expecting but really enjoyed.
Much has been written about the beautiful, haunting prologue to the film in which we learn everything we need to know about Carl’s life and his relationship with his wife. Those scenes are Pixar at its very best — dazzlingly economical storytelling that is tender and poignant, and not at all the way one might expect an “all-ages” film to begin. It’s every bit the work of genius that you might have heard, and luckily the rest of the film is able to live up to the incredibly high bar set by that prologue.
I had the pleasure of seeing Up in 3-D, and it was magnificent. Before the movie started, the theatre played several trailers for upcoming 3-D movies, and those were filled to the brim with all sorts of annoying in-your-face 3-D gimmicry. But I am pleased to report that there is very little of that in Up. Rather, the artists at Pixar have used the 3-D in an entirely different way: to subtly enlarge the visual palette of the film, adding enormous depth to the visual wonders on display. As Carl and his house, born aloft by an enormous cluster of balloons, floats through the beautiful animated vistas, the 3-D gives the film a “you are there” sensation that is engaging and quite remarkable.
I must also note that, as always, the Pixar feature was preceded by a lovely animated short. Mostly Cloudy tells a whimsical tale of a baby-delivering stork and the living cloud who creates the rather bizarre youngsters that this unfortunate stork is tasked with delivering. As always with Pixar, it is funny and sweet. I wish more movies played animated shorts before they began!
It’s another winner from Pixar, and if you missed it this summer you should be sure to check it out on DVD in the fall.