Pixar’s Up Review: A Soaring and Poignant Animation Journey

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If there was one company that could be a model for quality filmmaking it would be the creative minds in Pixar. This isn’t because of their exquisite and lavish displays of animation but rather their concepts for original storytelling, which are brought to life through their use of an in depth animation process. Pixar’s latest animation adventure is the delightful and moving tale entitled Up, about a man staying true to his love and his promises. This imaginative and emotionally driven story has very little faults and is as inspirational as it is enjoyable. Up has the successful formula of combining sympathetic and complex characters with a well balanced story involving the proper mix of humor and emotion that makes this one of Pixar’s best films to date.

If an individual was going to judge Up solely from the trailers than their assessment would be quite off. Instead of this story being about a grumpy old man trying to get away, it’s actually about a man and his dedication and love for his wife’s memory, whom at an early age promised to take her to South America, but the hardships of life got in the way of making that a reality. Up is able to delicately approach some difficult subject matter, including death, and goes about developing Carl Fredricksen’s motivation, our protagonist voiced by veteran actor Ed Asner, by having a wonderful yet emotional montage perfectly showing the audience the unique and loving relationship between Carl and Ellie. Carl lives alone after Ellie’s death and is about to lose his home to a construction company, until he uses the thousands of balloons in his home to carry his house to South America, where Ellie always wanted to go. Along for the fun and difficult journey is a motley crew of interesting characters, such as the trusty Boy Scout Russell, voiced by an interesting newcomer Jordan Nagai, and Dug the talking dog, voiced hilariously by co-director Bob Peterson.

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Pixar always seems to be able to create interesting and original concepts that connect with a vast span of different age groups without having the stories unbelievable aspects get too outrageous. Due to the story existing in an animated world the step to believability is a bit easier because of the exaggerated and more comic scenarios, such as a house being lifted by thousands of balloons or dogs being able to talk because of collar technology. But all of these contribute to the fun of the animated film experience and Up clearly has highly enjoyable qualities that will bring out the inner child in any mature adult. But what puts Pixar films above every other animation production is their ability to integrate deep emotional situations, such as a person’s loss or the yearning for a father’s attention, which Up handles with great care and when compared to most films is probably a prime example of how to have relatable and multi-layered characters that are very real and in depth.

Since Up is an animated film the animation is of course important when judging the film and Pixar is practically flawless with their animated delivery. The clear differences from the urban and jungle settings show an obvious talent amongst the animators, especially with their various uses of color, depth of field, and the ability to create a well framed image. These animators bring this delightful story to life and they make the visuals interesting, potent, and relatable to what we should be seeing at that moment in the film. This is also the useful tool in exploring the facial emotions of the characters as well as the humorous scenarios in the film that are brought to reality with incredible detail that has yet to be matched in the animation production world. It goes without saying that balancing contradictory emotions such as laughter and sadness within the film with the use of animation, a world that is perhaps more difficult to believe as reality, is an incredibly difficult task that Pixar, and directors Peter Docter and Bob Peterson, were able to accomplish and make it look easy.

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Most films around could learn a great deal from the delicate process Pixar takes when developing a film, which involves a long script writing process and of course a long time storyboarding. Most studios are shelling out project after project without much consideration to the character development or even the story progression of a script, usually resulting in a second-rate project that could have benefited from a longer development process. However, Pixar is definitely one in a million, having yet to have a really bad animated film released, and Up continues that trend while at the same time doing something new and slightly better with those script and animation strengths. Up is really a film for everyone, a delightful and fun concept with real and relatable characters, showing us what film quality actually is and gives us a target to strive for when making new films, whether they be animated or live action.

Grade: A-

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  1. […] As you can see I’ve seen the movie now and have been tweeting updates about it on the fly. Here you can have a read of the review which I feel is just about […]



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