For me, it is one of those little joys in life to go and see a movie with my better half. I’ve always been a huge film fan, and I love sharing a movie day, even if it’s an “ehhh” movie (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider), with the other Phat Geek. With Mel so recently back from a really long six weeks away, we decided to go out and spend a couple days catching movies this week.
Monday we went and saw Star Trek. This is good solid geek fare and just as much a part of her welcome back as the dinner that followed. You can check out my review here, but suffice it to say she liked it and I enjoyed seeing it a second time.
Today, though, we went and saw Up. One word: beautiful.
It was an absolutely perfect example of the reasons I enjoy movies and why I especially love sharing them with her. How Pixar consistently manages to put out films of this quality is beyond me. To follow up Wall-E, which was arguably the best animated film I’ve ever seen, with a film that in some very important ways surpasses it illustrates the sort of phenomenal product they’re putting out. With predictably nuanced charm, Pixar has managed to create a film that appeals to audiences on two basic levels.
For the kiddies we had the basic story about an old man and a little boy saving the day from a dastardly villain. The animation is bright and colorful and up to the normal high standards we’re used to in Pixar films. The main characters each have a very distinct look and feel though we can see a bit of the humans from Wall-E in the little boy. The film is presented in a narrower field of format than the usual cinematic fare though you hardly notice it. I have a feeling this has more to do with the fact we saw the 3D version of the film than anything else.
It has been a long time since I saw a 3D film. I just can’t get over the fact that I have to put crap on my head to see a film in the theater. I’d been hearing good things about the more recent usage of 3D and decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. The 3D was convincing but there was a welcome lack of purposeful gags playing on the 3D gimmick. There were no ping pong balls bounced at the screen, there were no water guns. The 3D added to the film more by bringing you into it and working with the surround sound effects. All in all I was pleased. Will I go see other 3D films? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely an improvement!
3D or not, though, the first level of the film is perfect for the little kids and loaded with tons of good humor, too. The damn bird had me laughing out loud as did the scene of the kid getting dragged across the window. I absolutely loved the talking dog thing and it was a great solution to the whole “Why can the people understand the dogs?” issue that occasionally pops up in these animated films. This film would have been a good enjoyable romp on just this level.
But on the second, deeper level this films goes from enjoyable to just plain wonderful.
Underneath the bright colors and funny gags, there is a nuanced and touching story about an old man dealing with the loss of his best friend and wife and of a boy dealing with a father largely missing from his life. In a very general sense the overwhelming message of this movie is that the only way to deal with hardship is to rise above them and become a better person. However, the story that Up tells is a very real and touching and expresses even more tenderness than Wall-E’s beautifully crafted story. I’m not ashamed to say that, on more than one occasion, I teared up during this film. If you can watch this movie with a dry eye, you’re dead inside.
I watched Wall-E about a week-and-a-half ago. I remarked to myself on how perfect the film was. The animation was fantastic, the story both amusing and touching and the message topical and well told. In the animation department, I still have to give the nod to Wall-E. It is in the message that Up takes the title.
The messages in Wall-E were simple and universal: Life and the Earth are to be protected and Love overcomes all boundaries. These are messages that resonate with people of all ages. Even the youngest child can understand the love between Wall-E and Eve. The love shared by Carl and Elie is no more difficult to understand but the sense of loss and incompleteness expressed by the little old man are far more complex and personal. In the same way the abandonment issues experienced by the little boy, Russell, will not be as easily appreciated by the younger audience. Carl’s and Russell’s stories are both very adult in their themes and both exceptionally well done. The end of the film gave the sort of wonderful warm feeling that everyone needs now and again.
If you haven’t seen this film, you need to. If you have… maybe see it again, and be thankful you’re not on the team at Pixar that’s just been told “Ok… that was great. How can we improve on this for our next film?”