|Theatrical Movie Reviews Theatrical|
|Written by Daniel Hirshleifer|
|Wednesday, 27 May 2009|
No studio in the history of Hollywood has had the track record of Pixar. Of course, no other movie studio releases so few films, but even so, it's remarkable that they have been able to retain such a consistently high level of quality amongst a series of feature and short films. The people at Pixar are constantly breaking new technological ground while telling stories of such high caliber that it puts all others (especially their main competitor, Dreamworks Animation) to shame. Even weaker Pixar films, such as A Bug's Life and Cars, are so thoroughly enjoyable that it's impossible to dislike them. And with their recent outings, Brad Bird's Ratatouille and Andrew Stanton's Wall-E, they took steps into new narrative grounds. Unfortunately, Up, their tenth feature, feels like a step backwards for the trailblazing studio.
Up is a simple film. Perhaps too simple. After the unconventional premise of Ratatouille (a rat who longs to become a gourmet chef in Paris) and the unique visual storytelling of Wall-E, it appeared as if Pixar was ready to break new ground and take animation to places it had never been before. In fact, speaking with many animators (including Matt Groening of The Simpsons fame), it appears as if Wall-E is seen as something of a watershed moment in the animated genre. So for Pixar to follow it with a straight forward tale like Up, the film feels a little meager by comparison. After the richness of character and design that had gone into the past several Pixar flicks, Up seems malnourished. Aside from a giant bird and a hilarious talking dog, Up contains very little to wow the audience. The design is downright banal. There's nothing that makes me want to live in that world for the hour and a half. Furthermore, the film makes no use of its 3-D capabilities, making it seem like a gimmick and an afterthought.
It's a little hard to describe what exactly is missing from Up. Had any other studio (including Disney's main animation arm) released this film, it would probably be praised as a high water mark for that particular company. But this is Pixar, who have never released a film I'd grade less than an A-. Of course, looking at the picture's solid 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, I'm sure I'm in a very small minority by voicing this opinion. And if that's the case, then so be it. The fact is, I wanted to be enchanted by Up, but I mostly felt disappointed by the time it finishes. It's a shame that a movie called Up, while still worth seeing, can't reach the heights of Pixar's past achievements.