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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Up Review & Best of Pixar

Up (2009)

In today's cinematic marketplace, is there any better bet than having a good time at a Pixar movie? I don't really think so, and Up is no exception.

The first 15 minutes or so of Up are some of the greatest Pixar moments put to film, rivaled, I think, only by the opening vision of Wall-E. It starts with a delightful opening in the 1930s where Carl meets Ellie. They are two children with a love of adventure and we see them meet cute in an abandoned house full of adventure. It then moves on to a wordless montage that shows their subsequent life together in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. It is truly masterful filmmaking.

After the opening, we are left with Carl Frederickson as a proverbial grumpy old man (nicely voiced by Ed Asner). The rest of the movie, as you probably know, centers on his trip to Paradise Falls with a young boy scout. When they get to Paradise Falls, they are joined by an exotic bird and a talking dog....

I found the movie slowed a bit during their initial moments in Paradise Falls. After the masterpiece of the film's opening moments, it seemed inevitable that things would become a bit more mundane. Indeed, there are moments when Up reverts to standard (if enjoyable) action movie theatrics. By the end, though, we thoroughly care about the characters and are left with at least two more tear-jerking scenes.

Up has been getting some rave reviews, and it is definitely enjoyable with some truly great moments. To me, it doesn't reach the heights of Ratatouille or Wall-E, but few movies do. It's still better than 90% of movies out there, and I continue to commend Pixar for dreaming big and blessing filmgoers with such unique visions.

Grade: B+

Top 5 Pixar Films

The release of Up has led many bloggers to an appraisal of Pixar's canon, so I thought I'd join the group. The only one of the 10 I haven't seen is Cars, and I don't have a desire to. It's been a while since I've seen some of these, but here is my ranking as of now.


Good, but I didn't love them: A Bug's Life, The Incredibles
Very good but didn't quite crack the top 5: Finding Nemo, Up

5. Monsters, Inc.: Most underrated? It came out the same year as Shrek, but is so much better. Great premise and great characters.

4. Toy Story: Launched the Pixar empire with an inventive script, great characters, hilarious humor, and honest sentiment. A landmark.

3. Ratatouille: Arguably the most "conventional" Pixar film, but perfectly done. The scene where food critic Anton Ego tastes Remy's dish is one of the best Pixar moments ever.

2. Toy Story 2: Even better than 1. The addition of Jessie also added a much-needed female presence too often missing from Pixar. I can't wait for Toy Story 3 next year.

1. WALL-E: Destined to become an all-time classic. This funny, cerebral, dark film shows how far Pixar pulled animated film.

How about you? What did you think of Up? What's your favorite Pixar?

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