Posts Tagged ‘pixar

17
Jun
09

Movie Review: Up

up

 

The Spirit of Adventure.

Starring the voices of Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Delroy Lindo, and John Ratzenberger. Directed by Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson

Nice, charming, amusing and dare I say, delightful.

Carl Fredricksen (Asner) was just a kid when two important events occurred: his boyhood hero Charles Muntz (Plummer), world explorer extraordinaire, is ostracized and called a fraud when scientists question the bones of a rare bird he returned with. He subsequently returns to South America vowing to only return to Stateside after he has captured the elusive, rare bird. Also, Carl meets fellow Muntz-fan and future wife Ellie. In a silent montage we watch Carl and Ellie grow up, get married, buy a house, try to have kids, Carl become a balloon salesman, and the death of Ellie.

Carl is now 78-years-old and the home he rebuilt and grew old in is now the only small plot of land not owned by a corporation planning to build. Aside from loneliness his life is interrupted by the construction crew and Wilderness Scout Russell (Nagai), who pesters Fredricksen in order to earn his Elderly Assistance badge (we didn’t have that in Boy Scouts). When an altercation with Carl’s mailbox leads to a further altercation with a construction crew member, Carl is sent to court for damages and is sentenced to spend his days at Shady Oaks retirement community.

On the day he is to be picked up Carl releases thousands of balloons that are strung through the chimney. It’s up, up, and away as he heads to Paradise Falls in South America just like his boyhood hero, Charles Muntz. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned because while in mid-air, there’s a knock at the door. Russell had hid under his front porch and would like to come inside. Thus begins a friendship between two unlikely people who need each other more than they would admit; Carl needs someone to help him out on his adventure and Russell needs a father-figure in replace of his dad who left his mother for another named Phyllis (a nod to the “Mary Tyler Moore” show). Along the way the duo become a group adopting a talking dog named Dug and the rare bird that Muntz had went to retrieve (which Russell nicknames “Kevin”). Matters get worse when Carl and Russell meet Muntz himself who will do anything, including murder, in order to capture the bird.

This movie works on sheer simplicity; there are no hidden layers, the love story was laid out within the first 10 minutes, etc. It’s about two characters whose growth comes through adventure and it’s better than I thought it would be.

Thinking back there weren’t any certain scenes better than the others; the movie is pretty even. I watched this in Disney Digital 3-D and the color was amazing. There is one particular scene in which the floating house is being dragged in front of a red-purple sunset. That and the color on the bird (which looks like a gigantic, rainbow-colored Dodo), are fantastic. Aside from that you get attached to the characters; Russell’s life really affects you.

One final note for the “trivia” crowd: John Ratzenberger plays Construction Foreman Tom. And a final personal note: I enjoyed this more than “Wall*E.”

My grade: A

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10
Jul
08

Movie Review: Wall*E

 

 

More serious than I thought…

 

Starring the voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, and Sigourney Weaver. Directed by Andrew Stanton

 

The Future. Planet Earth. The world is now skyscrapers made of cubes of trash (in between still-standing high rises) and dilapidated highways; it’s the remains of humanity after the Buy N Large Corporation conquered humanity and took everyone into space, leaving behind garbage and toxicity. The last working robot Wall*E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-class) compacts the trash into cubes and is responsible for creating the trash-scrapers.

 

Over the past 700 years that mankind has abandoned the Earth Wall*E has diligently done his job and gained a personality. His “home” (a giant garbage truck) holds objects of his curiosity as well as replacement parts and an iPod that he uses to watch, “Holly Dolly!” on VHS. Apart from a cockroach, Wall*E has no friends.

 

When a giant spaceship lands and drops off another robot called Eve (Extraterrestial Vegetation Evaluator) Wall*E becomes fascinated with her; Eve, not so much. Immediately Eve goes to searching the planet for any vegetation and Wall*E tries shadowing her, instantly finding out that Eve has a trigger-happy arm and a quick temper. When Wall*E gives her a plant he put in a shoe and faster than you can say “Mission Accomplished,” Eve calls for the ship to return and goes into a comatose state. Once the ship picks up Eve, Wall*E goes on an adventure.

 

I’ll stop the story there with the exception of saying that the human race lives on a spaceship called the Axiom where they fly/bump around on “hover” chairs and weigh about 300 pounds on average. Seriously.

 

What I didn’t expect from this movie was how lonely an atmosphere Pixar could create. Desolation, trash, toxicity, dirt; it takes hard work to make it all believable and to give a “possible” future based on mankind’s current “rate of expansion” (there’s more than a double-entendre in that). This movie is full of messages and might turn away audiences looking for a “cutesy” movie. But then again, don’t most Pixar films?

 

Aside from the “human consumerism leading to obesity” (we’ve proved that) there is the “love conquers all” theme which is where “Wall*E” is the most endearing. Whereas Eve is temperamental and trigger-happy, Wall*E is shy and carries himself in a Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton sort of way.

And the movie does have its comical moments, a lot more than you’ve seen in the previews and trailers. Added to that are the references to “2001,” “Star Trek,” “Flight of the Navigator,” and Atari. Oh yeah, and watch for John Ratzenberger’s cameo.

 

My grade: B+