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Upping the ante

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Nathan Strum

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So many potential "Up" puns... but I had to pick just one for this entry's title. Such is life.

 

I finally managed to get out and see Up today, in glorious 2-D! Hey... it was an Imax theater (although not an Imax print), so at least the screen was huge. But we decided as a group that our past experiences with 3-D weren't worth the extra five bucks. Maybe it would have been, since I certainly would have paid more to see Up if I'd had to. (Although after getting lunch first, then tickets and a snack, I was out almost $30 anyway.)

 

Up raises the bar for animated films, yet again. Pixar shows why they're years ahead of Dreamworks in terms of not only exceptional animation, but compelling storytelling as well. This is really where Up shines.

 

Without giving too much away, the first part of the film deals very lovingly and honestly with the story behind the main character. It's heartfelt, touching, and also pulls no punches. I don't get teary-eyed at many films, much less animated ones, but I was genuinely moved by these characters. I think the backstory will resonate with a lot of people too, since we've all looked back at some point and wished things had gone differently. But more to the point - these are likable characters, right from the get-go. How many TV series waste countless episodes trying to shape characters into something already as well-defined as these are?

 

I don't want to give the impression Up is a melancholy film by any means, because while there are some elements of that (which are necessary to establish the main character), Up is so much more. Once the present-day story gets rolling, it's a comedy, a buddy film, an adventure movie, and in the end, a story about second chances. Both in making the most of them when you have them, but also in making your own second chances in the first place.

 

Up has a lot of great laughs in it (most notably from some of the animals), exceptional visuals, suspense, action, unparalleled animation, and a lot of heart. It's just really solid entertainment, which I think was most evidenced by the fact that we were in a theater full of little kids (don't they have pre-schools around here?), and they were held in absolute rapt attention for the whole film. Even the parts where there was character development going on, I think becuase the characters were so affable, that the kids were really involved with what was happening. Plus, there's enough slapstick humor and action to keep them busy the rest of the time. (Except for a couple of older idiots who couldn't keep their cell phones put away. Sheesh, people! Makes me want to

.) Pixar's unique solution to "talking animals" is nothing short of brilliant, and the source of some of the best gags in the film.

 

My one quibble with the film involves a sequence involving airplanes (you'll know it when you see it), which was just too out-of-step with the rest of the film to really work.

It served it's purpose I suppose, but when dogs who had been acting like regular (albeit "talking") dogs for the entire film suddenly start flying around in biplanes... it seemed like I was watching a different film all of the sudden. It humanized them far too much.

 

 

The short film that preceded the movie - "Partly Cloudy" - was charming and funny, although I thought it took a few minutes to really get going. Pixar has often used its animated shorts as a testing ground for new technologies, and that was pretty evident here (cloud rendering). Still, despite kind of a weird premise, I enjoyed it a lot. There's some great, funny animation in there. And, as with Up, it has a lot of heart, too.

 

Up is doing great business at the box office (yes... I should've said it's been "cleaning up", but I'm intentionally trying to avoid "up" puns), and I'm hoping it's a huge success. In part because good films like this really deserve success, which will hopefully breed more good films; and also because we need some of that sweet, sweet Pixar money to trickle down to the college where I work (and where a great many Pixar people - including this film's director - studied animation). I wholeheartedly recommend Up. It's... uplifting. ;)

 

9.5/10

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What a rough life for such a little kid. That was a really great thing for Pixar to do. It's nice to know they're still not too big of a company to care.

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Pixar shows why they're years ahead of Dreamworks in terms of not only exceptional animation, but compelling storytelling as well.

 

I'd assume Dreamworks can live with that. After all, with Transformers 2 they just killed every sci-fi action movie ever made. It makes T4 look 20 years older in direct comparison :ponder:

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I'd assume Dreamworks can live with that. After all, with Transformers 2 they just killed every sci-fi action movie ever made. It makes T4 look 20 years older in direct comparison :ponder:

I haven't seen either film, and have absolutely no intention to.

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Hm... but why? There's nothing better.

Do you mean that as, "There's nothing better in the theaters right now, so if you're bored and have nothing better to do you might as well go see them", or literally that you've seen no better movies than these two films?

 

There's just nothing in either film that looks remotely interesting to me. The Terminator franchise went down the toilet with T-3, and I didn't like the first Transformers movie at all (never was a fan of the toys or TV show to begin with). Just lots of sound and fury signifying nothing. A tale told by an... well, you know the rest. ;)

 

And frankly, that's $22 and four-and-a-half hours of my life I could find a lot better things to do with.

 

They beat Star Wars and LotR combined! :ponder:

I didn't like LotR (I thought the first one was about as much fun as being stuck on a plane for 3 hours - so I skipped the last two), and the only good Star Wars movies came out in '77 and '80. Being better than Episodes I, II and III isn't a very difficult accomplishment. In fact, it would be hard to be worse than I and II. :)

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Do you mean that as, "There's nothing better in the theaters right now, so if you're bored and have nothing better to do you might as well go see them", or literally that you've seen no better movies than these two films?

 

I really mean it. I'm not good at describing movies, but I found this review bit from rottentomatoes pretty fitting:

 

"Spectacular and totally meaningless, like a video game transposed to the big screen and worked by a maniacal enthusiast."

 

Albeit I don't know why the reviewer thought that would sound negative and in any way support his :ponder: vote ;)

 

But then I usually don't get movie reviewers at all. What's it with all those people watching action films and complaining about them being all mindless action afterwards? I don't go and see a social drama flic and then complain about the lame stunts, zero sex, missing explosions and lack of humor either, no? :)

 

And I don't get that critic either when someone says "it's like a video game". Don't they realize that they're complimenting it with that actually? After all, video games have been better than movies _ever_!

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I didn't like LotR (I thought the first one was about as much fun as being stuck on a plane for 3 hours - so I skipped the last two

 

I really wanted to like them so I bought the trilogy in a box set after they were cheaper in hopes of some good, big-screen entertainment.

 

The first film was waaaay too long but did offer a few bright spots and cool effects. It wasn't good but I wasn't ready to ignore the other films based on it. I wish I had. All films were waaaay too long, boring, had strange hobbit erotic undertones, and Elijah Wood's constant wide-eyed and worried look throughout all three movies just made me want to reach into the screen and slap that look off his face!

 

Anyone want to buy a LOTR box set cheap?

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All films were waaaay too long, boring, had strange hobbit erotic undertones, and Elijah Wood's constant wide-eyed and worried look throughout all three movies just made me want to reach into the screen and slap that look off his face!

 

I always wondered how much the trilogy would actually improve if one would just cut Frodo completely out of it :ponder:

 

Gollum: Careful, don't look into that water!

Frodo: Hm... Why?

 

Anyone want to buy a LOTR box set cheap?

 

No thanks. I bought a copy of Sin City instead, so I can see Frodo get dismembered whenever my LotR nightmares return :)

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