Feature length animated movies have been around since 1937 when Walt Disney introduced the world to the concept with his release of ‘Snow White.' For most of us growing in the years since then, ‘cartoon’ flicks have for the most part been relegated to appealing only to younger children. Frequently these films were marketed as family entertainment, but most of the time there was little to keep any, but the youngest members of the household engaged. Typically there was little if any story worth telling and absolutely nothing in the way of character development. Then a revolution in animation occurred, and computers began to replace or at least significantly supplement human animators. The initial attempts employing these new techniques were visually impressive but somehow failed to capture the warmth and charm of hand-drawn animation. That was all changed in the space of less than a decade by the geniuses at Pixar, now affiliated with the studio that started it all, Disney. The combination of Disney’s incredible ability to tell a story that can hold on to all ages and the amazing animation style has resulted in some of the best films around. This statement is not restricted to just animated films.For the second consecutive the best film I have reviewed has been an animated feature. Last year it was ‘Wall-E’; this year, ‘Up.’, Thie film is an example of cinema that, no pun intended, rises above the other flicks by returning the magic and wonder we felt as children while watching a movie in a grand old fashion theater. The movie has every element a successful movie should have; action, suspense, comedy and even the inclusion of a very tender romantic touch. After being so delighted with last year’s ‘Wall-E,’ I was extremely dubious that lightning could strike again. It only took a very brief time after the movie started before I found myself completely enthralled.
The movie was written and directed by a talented pair; Pete Docter and Bob Peterson. Both men previously teamed up for ‘Monsters, Inc.’ with Docter also working on 'Wall-E’ and both ‘Toy Story movies and Peterson coming off of ‘Finding Nemo.' This demonstration has provided a proven track record of success that exemplifies its superior position in the genre. These men not only know how to tell a story for all ages to enjoy but they also can perfectly blend all the elements required to craft a superior film. It is very easy to forget that this is an animated feature; the style of animation is so humanistic that even though it was not intended to be particularly realistic, it can reach out and touch an audience on an emotional level. This is the power of this new generation of animated films; they are designed to present the same degree of commitment as a live action movie.
The film follows the life of Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner) starting off with him as a clumsy kid infatuated with the exploits of world famous explorer and global adventurer Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer). Young Carl idolizes Muntz and is extremely disappointed when Muntz, disgraced upon the accusation of falsifying a major discovery. One day Carl meets a young goofy looking girl, Ellie (voiced by Elie Docter) and the children become fast friends. Eventually, they grow up, fall in love and get married. All their lives they dreamt of going to Paradise Falls in South America but the ordinary, unexpected expenses of life kept getting in the way. Before they can take their trip, Carl’s beloved wife passes away leaving him a lonely, isolated old man. Unable to give up his memories of Ellie Carl remains in their home. In the same old house. One day a young wilderness scout named Russell (Jordan Nagai) who wants to use Carl to get his final merit badge need for a promotion to senior scout. The boy is hiding under the porch when Carl devises a plan to use thousands of helium balloons to float the entire house to South America. They do finally get there, but that is only the start of their fantastic adventure. The montage in the begriming which chronicles the life of the loving couple is so incredibly touching that if it does not move, you-you are not entirely human. No ordinary cartoon could express the kind of deep-seated love so incredibly depicted between Carl and Ellie.Moments such as these would earn a place on any list of the greatest romantic scenes up cinema, regardless of the format. The Blu-ray version did not include the theatrical 3D variation, but the video and audio are spectacular in any case. There is an attention to the slightest details that is subtly apparent in high definition. The animation is not flashy or overwhelming but has matured to a viable way to create a film, and it comes across best in high definition. The audio is rich in a way that almost sneaks up on you while you are watching. The directionality of the sound field is perfect but never in the way. This is hands down a great movie.
As part of the incentive with Disney and Pixar, they are calling through their award-winning catalog of animated films re-mastering them to embrace the latest in cinematic technology and presentation, Real 3D. Creating this illusion of depth is not the old school two color cellophane cardboard glasses known as anaglyph that came to movies in the mid-fifties. This is a new high-resolution 3D and Up’ is an exceptional example of how to best use the technique, it is not just a gimmick; this movie makes such incredible use of the dimension of depth the story takes on an entirely new scope. The house floating up and away suspended by a myriad of balloons is a sight that simply has to be experienced; words fall short of an adequately describing it. There are several definable planes of depth visible. The balloons occupy the foreground, background and everything in between. The realism this imparts to the movie is breath taking. While the 3D image makes the animation more lifelike, there is absolutely no sacrifice in the resolution. On modern 3D enabled televisions the number of pixels is more than enough to provide the added dimension and the full 1080p resolution. When combined with the full DTS 5.1 Master Audio the effect is to infuse you into the story to an extent you never imagined to be possible.
11/22/12 07/05/2016 12/01/2016