Sunday, May 31, 2009

Disney/Pixar's UP

When I first saw previews for Pixar's newest film "UP" I was not all that excited to go see it. The idea of a house being carried by thousands of helium balloons is pretty far-fetched. And yes, I know it's a cartoon they can get away with it, but it turned me off. The previews did not show much of the character's personalities besides a grumpy old man and a small boy scout type boy.

Well today was my wife's birthday and she wanted to go see a movie. She chose UP and I didn't have any problem with that. I was surprisingly interested to see what it was really about. Pixar has been cranking out films that have all been big hits and I've been waiting for a flop. This definitely wasn't it.

UP is excellent. It is not Pixar's most polished film. Wall-E was a visual feast for the eyes in the beginning of the film with its realism and a design wonderland on the Axiom later. UP is a different kind of beautiful. First, everything begins with a great story. Pixar has emphasized the importance of story and it is what keeps their films on the top. The visual beauty is just icing on the cake. UP's story begins with Carl Fredricksen as a boy. His childhood imagination latches onto a specific adventurer who searches for an elusive monster in the wilderness of South America. He becomes friends with a young girl his age, Ellie, you shares his adventuring hobby. They make a pact to one day go to South America. In a heart-wrenching montage, the lives of Carl and Ellie pass before our eyes. They become old and without ever completing their dream. Ellie becomes ill and passes away, leaving Carl alone. The true movie is between Carl and the memory of Ellie in his heart. Even though he travels in his house, lifted by balloons, the movie is mostly internal.

The visuals of the film take a step back from Wall-E's realism and look a lot like character's from the Incredible's universe. But the imagery is still beautiful. The shots of the house flying in the clouds are complemented by a wonderful score by Michael Giacchino.

I really enjoyed this film. "It's the boring things that you remember most."
Take a look at the trailers:

Teaser Trailer

Go here to view special UP-isodes.

At CNet, there is an article about how Pixar animated thousands of balloons.
CNN has an article talking about the secret to Pixar's success: Their people.

This film is a mish mash of many things. There are some ridiculous events that are funny, but in no way plausible, like getting to South America in a night or even the house lifted by balloons! But these things are easily overlooked when you become emotionally attached with the characters. The talking dogs piloting small fighter planes was also a stretch bu funny. My screenwriting teacher would question many of the motivations in this movie, saying that their motivation was not strong enough to cause them to do what they did. I say they were. If they weren't we wouldn't have a film. A hilarious addition to the cast is Dug the dog. He is funny because he is so true to how we see dogs. My wife really enjoyed the quote: "I hid under the porch because I love you."

I won't say too much more, but I urge anyone to go see this film. It is excellent. Pixar is still going strong. Be prepared to laugh and cry. If you are married, this film is a real tearjerker.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Okay, so I am really stoked about the new film 9 by Shane Acker. I remember seeing his short film "9" that sparked the feature film. I think I saw it when I attended the 3rd Animation Show in Detroit. Anyways, after seeing two trailers I've become very interested in the film.

Please view them for yourself:

Trailer 1
Trailer 2

The trailers are very good. I love the music in them and the imagery shown is very graphic, showing some of the characters being drained of their life. I love it. It's going to be hard waiting until September to see this movie, but I will definitely be going to see it in the theater.

Check out production drawings, storyboards and an interview with director Shane Acker here: Interview

Also check out Shane Acker's site.

The original short has become very hard to find and I am hoping that when the feature 9 is released on DVD the short will be included.