The first ever animated feature film to inaugurate the Cannes Film Festival & one of the only three works of animation to have been nominated for Best Picture Oscar, Pixar’s Up is a profoundly intimate human drama, a rollicking adventure, a heartwarming romance, a joyous coming-of-age tale & a rib-tickling comedy, all extraordinarily blended into one gorgeously rendered masterpiece that not only succeeds as one of the best works of Pixar Animation Studios but deserves to be ranked amongst the greatest films ever made.
Commencing its story with what’s unquestionably the finest opening scene in any Pixar film to date, Up tells the story of an old grumpy widower who, in order to avoid going to a retirement home, ties up thousands of air balloons to his house to make it fly & sets out to South America to live near the Paradise Falls; the place he & his late wife had dreamt of going to since their childhood days. Adventure begins when he discovers that a young boy scout has accidentally lifted with his house & is now stuck with him on his journey.
Directed by Pete Docter (whose previous effort was Monsters Inc.), every doubt anyone had about how Pixar was ever going to surpass whatever it accomplished with WALL·E in the preceding year is put to rest within the first 10 minutes of the picture because the wordless summation of Carl’s & Ellie’s lives in the film’s opening sequence delivers such a huge emotional impact that it is undoubtedly the best opening scene of any animation film out there and in many ways, works as an insanely great short film within this feature.
The screenplay, written by Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, is incredibly rich in its content, characters, wit & emotional depth, and wonderfully balances all these elements to bring on screen a story that’s pure escapism. Cinematography fills the screen with broad range of bright, vivid colours that adds more vibrance to its adventurous plot, which is further enhanced by its highly energetic but masterly controlled camerawork while the aspect of Editing smoothly paces the entire narrative throughout its 96 minutes of runtime.
Computer animation from Pixar is one aspect that can be easily taken for granted since it is something that this pioneering studio has been carrying forward since the very time they introduced it in the world of filmmaking. And while the 3D animation here may not be as groundbreaking as the studio feature that preceded it, Up nonetheless brings many new inventions to the table with its painstakingly detailed renderings & fascinating use of colours which makes the cinematic experience all the more enriching & unforgettable.
Adding additional flavours to this adventure’s colourful premise is the Academy Award-winning score by Michael Giacchino that beautifully captures the emotional resonance this film was aiming for & with its mesmerising tracks, never lets the adventurous tone fizzle out at any given moment. Driving the emotions, pleasing the senses, elevating the excitement & amplifying the entertainment, the soundtrack of Up is definitely amongst the finest film scores in existence & is possibly Giacchino’s best compositions to date.
Last but not the least are the cleverly imagined, fabulously drawn, ingeniously designed & exquisitely animated characters who are the real heart & soul of this narrative but it’s the excellent voice cast that brings them to life which also continues Pixar’s tradition of coming up with a perfectly fitting cast every single time. Our elderly protagonist Carl is brilliantly voiced by Ed Asner who does an impressive job in making him likeable despite the character’s initially grumpy attitude which starts wearing off as the plot progresses.
Jordan Nagai also ends up making his mark as the voice of Russell; the zestful boy scout who inadvertently joins Carl on his journey to Paradise Falls & it’s really heartwarming that his Asian-American character wasn’t reduced to a stereotype. Christopher Plummer also chips in nicely as Charles Muntz; a famous explorer whom Carl & Ellie idolised. Yet the one who steals the show is Bob Peterson who voices the Golden Retriever, Dug, who has to be one of the most adorable, funniest & memorable characters created by Pixar.
On an overall scale, Pixar’s Up is a breathtaking fusion of art, animation & vision that marks yet another creative high for its studio and also happens to be their most emotional film to date. Delightfully captivating, occasionally sentimental, emotionally balanced & hilarious as hell, Up soars to new heights by paying off Pixar’s commitment to inventive storytelling & state-of-the-art 3D animation in their high-risk projects and is one cinema I’ve been in love with since my very first viewing & over the years, nothing has changed.
Showcasing a considerable amount of improvement & maturity in director Pete Docter’s filmmaking style since his previous venture while also marking the 10th consecutive win for Pixar on critical & commercial scale, Up is one spectacularly directed, deftly written, sumptuously animated, splendidly photographed, firmly edited & magnificently scored masterpiece for viewers of all ages that comes strongly recommended. If you still haven’t seen it, then jump on the wagon whole-heartedly for you just might end up rediscovering your spirit of adventure with Up.