Firstly for those of you that may not know, I am a genuine Disney fan, someone who openly embraces & owns both the old-school 2D storytelling animation (pre-Pixar) along with the more recent visual & humorous treats that the Disney/Pixar partnership regularly deliver, of which UP is their 10th movie union. However, I am also probably harder to impress each and every time, as they (in my eyes) really raised the bar to impossible heights with their first outing Toy Story & haven’t really managed to deliver anything quite as enjoyable, loveable & clever since.
I just about made it to the UK preview screening on time, so without a moment to spare (as the lights were already starting to dim) I quickly unwrapped my shiny new Disney 3D glasses from their cellophane and put them instantly on, careful not to miss a nanosecond of the action or poke my eyes out in process.
Instantly we were presented with both the Disney (palace & fireworks) logo & then the Pixar lamp intros, both re-worked to show off their 3D capabilities. Immediately concerns started to mount in head. Would the action, storyline & animation be compromised for gratuitous 3D effects, with things constantly flying out at the audience, for no other reason than demonstration purposes? Luckily I was not able to really think about it for long, as the new Pixar short “Partly Cloudy“ was beginning to roll….
Immediately I was reassured. Pixar had once again delivered an absolute gem & visual delight, one that was enhanced by the 3D technology, rather than compromised by it. Partly Cloudy revolves around the age old story of babies being delivered by storks, but where do the storks get them from? Clouds, right? Our hero is Gus, a lonely & insecure Grey Cloud, who has the unthankful task of creating all the dangerous, prickly & snappy baby animals, including the likes of crocodiles, sharks & porcupines. Gus then hands them over to his delivery stork Peck, who has the misfortune of transporting these dangerous little bundles of joy to their expectant mothers & families….a brilliant start.
Now onto the main event…
UP revolves around Carl Fredricksen, a 78 year old balloon salesman, who after years of living life with all its responsibilities & often mundane day-to-day distractions, now desperately wishes to fulfil his childhood dream & promise of taking a great adventure. One which follows in the footsteps of his childhood adventure hero Charles F. Muntz to South America & the “Paradise Falls”.
However, as you would expect this is not as simple as it would seem. Carl also needs to transport his house there too (the reasons for which may leave you weeping & tearful, you have been warned!). He decides to achieve this by attaching thousands of helium balloons to his house, providing the lift required to literally set sail for South America.
Carls adventure, tranquillity and sanity is further compromised by an overly keen Wilderness Explorer called Russell, who accidently stows away onboard the floating house, whilst trying to earn his last badge for “helping an elder”. What then follows is a genuine adventure, which in places is filled with laugh out loud humour (namely in the form of the talking dogs & Russell’s constant questions) & further additional heartfelt moments, as our heroes deal with the various obstacles that come their way.
The whole experience leaves you feeling warm inside. On the one hand delivering the importance to have & fulfil your dreams, keep promises & live a life full of adventure and on the other genuine acceptance, dependency & friendship with others (even with those who may on the face of it make the worst passengers along your ride).
Up is a beautifully tender, maturely crafted visual feast, packed with laugh out loud funny moments to accompany the more sombre heartfelt tear jerker ones. Visually one that is stunning & enhanced rather than distracted by the 3D, delivering a genuine step-change in the quality of the animation.
A fantastic must see 4 out of 5, only marginally missing the top mark through a distinct lack of any feel-good (can’t get out of your head) songs & other small normal Disney touches, that I have come to expect (additional loveable characters etc).