Sunday, September 20, 2009

UP (3-D): MOVIE REVIEW


Cast (voices): Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Petersen
Director: Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson
Runtime: 96 min.
Verdict: Disappointingly standard fare once again, considering the profound manner in which it starts.
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

        I shrug again. Up features a delightfully tragic montage right at the beginning, something beautiful yet so haunting. I was terrified. I promised myself I would never let that happen. That is the kind of depth the genius of Pixar is capable of, digging deep into the silent era and bringing something absolutely surprising and something that feels so unnervingly close to the pragmatism of reality. So close, I wanted to deny it, and I still do. I was moved, deeply so, and I still denied it. The rest of the movie passed by me, leaving me absolutely cold save a moment or two, leaving me once again in despair at the appalling lack of courage to fight the temptations of silly crowd-pleasing trickery, yet as I moved out of the screening I was still denying the montage. I almost wanted to cry my denial. I think I should mark that as an achievement.
        Here is the premise. On second thoughts, let me save it, because the absolute brilliance of the opening montage speaks and narrates, and conveys a whole lot more than all the other Pixar films combined. That is, if we consider the service of cinema, or any other art form for that matter, to be a study of the human condition. So, let me just say that Carl Fredrickson (voiced by Mr. Asner) is a grumpy old widower, and through some terribly clunky turn of the pen of the scriptwriters, gets on an adventure trip to South America. Paradise Falls. In his house. Powered by a million balloons. And a Boy Scout only eight years old. Russell (voiced by Mr. Nagai) his name. And many more examples of what we call standard animation fare. You know the deal. Chases and stuff.
        I think I don’t want to say much about it. Save the 3-D. I have always maintained and I’ll still maintain 3-D is a gimmick. A Coraline is a rarity, but most stuff out there does not achieve anything more by the depth perception. At times, Up is just a pretty picture, often the gimmicky use of the depth distracting us from the experience. And on other occasions it is downright ugly, when the feeble image of the stuff moving in the foreground sticks out sorely against the background, evoking a strong sense of image-tampering. From a narrative standpoint, nothing stands out. No economy, overt saccharine, unimaginative character turns, contrived plot choices and a conventional and politically correct moral standing. The thing with these standings is that they look good on paper, but from an emotional stand-point there’s nothing life-like. There’s no truth.
        Any other animated film, and I would have just let out a meh. But here, I feel so strongly against the mediocrity of the rest of the film is because something at the beginning touched me so deeply. There was something true in it. And that truth was betrayed by the film. The house at the end was important. Not the MacGuffin. All the time. The house wasn’t a burden, as the film suggests. It was an honor, it always is. That past. As a whole, Up is never quite there. But as a piece of filmmaking that has stirred me like few films have in recent memory, Up has something really special up its sleeve. It has me scared. How I wish I could end it differently. I wish I would.

4 comments:

nightflier said...

true that :)
the beginning made me cry and that was it..the rest just passed..

Just Another Film Buff said...

The 3d was bad eh? Thankfully, my cinema hall didn't have that.

But I thought this was a brilliant movie. I was afraid that Pixar would try to imitate itself, but Up has confirmed its status as an auteur. It packs so much detail subtly into its images that it can teach a thing or two to the best melodramas. Even in the obligatory Pixar rush hour, there is so much present that one wonders why Pixar directors are not thinking about real life movies. That opening sequence where the couple becomes hold can only be successful in animation, but no one has pulled that off with such style. Weaving so many ideas and charactrers one over the other, I felt Pixar has definitely upped the ante here. I felt each of the characters has a reason for doing what they are, more than mere morality. Of course, there are also enough evidences that the whole tale plays out in the minds of the two characters as in Tarsem's Fall, but that's another day's discussion. I also thought that there as much truth to the old man. The director continuously adds detail to his character - a man who has five locks on his door, a man who hates technology and a man who thinks dogs should only bark like the good old days.

In all, I thought Up was a grand salute to every day adventures indicated in the opening montage and not necessarily fighting on top of a zeppelin.

!Teq-uila Del Zapata said...

I donno why u didn't like it, I like this one, after a long time, some good animated one.
though i have not seen Caroline.
btw, do u see, its awesome animation and crap script.

Vaibhav Mathur said...

Satish,

I would agree with you on the point that the movie was promising. A promise that was wasted.

However, I don't consider the 3D animation in "Up" up to the mark. To be frank, I think it was outrightly bad. It felt as if I am watching a regular animated movie with an extra pair of glasses.

I have seen just one 3D movie prior to this one, and it was "Fly me to the moon". Although, the movie didnot have much of a story, however, the 3D animation in it was just amazing. And the "Fly me" has set a benchmark for me to judge rest of the 3D movies. And I strongly feel that "Up" comes nowhere near to that benchmark.