Up (2009)

2014 #12
Pete Docter | 96 mins | Blu-ray | 1.78:1 | USA / English | U / PG

UpYou know Up: it’s the Pixar movie where everyone talks about how amazing the first 10 minutes are, and never seems to have anything to say about the rest of the film.

Which sums it up pretty well, to be honest. “The rest of the film” may be where you’ll find the balloon-flying house and talking dogs that played so well on posters, trailers, and clips, but it’s the opening sequence that is artistically outstanding, emotionally affecting and, yes, the thing you’ll remember the film for. Without it, Up is a pretty standard adventure-y kids’ CG movie — good fun while it lasts, but nothing particularly special.

And, if you haven’t seen that opening, to tell you about it would spoil it for you. If you haven’t already heard, try not to find out, because I think knowing where it’s going undermines its impact a bit — though it’s so well-done that it does remain effective nonetheless.

As for the rest of the movie, there’s some amusing situations and dialogue, and the usual unconstrained-camera antics so beloved of CG movies during action sequences. The talking dogs are solidly observed, although for me the concept didn’t pay off as well as the clips promised — Up castthe best bits were shown off in advance. The special features reveal the extent the animators went to when researching real-world locations to influence the film’s strange, alien landscape; sadly, the fact the bizarre rock formations are actually a real thing somewhere in the world is more interesting than how they’re used in the film.

A bit like WALL-E, Pixar start off with something courageously original, but then lets it slide into standard US animated fare. It makes for a must-see, but only thanks to a relatively small portion of the whole; and all round it’s a good film, but not a great one

4 out of 5

Up was viewed as part of my What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…? 2014 project, which you can read more about here.

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