Sunday, 31 May 2009

Up (2009)

When I went to see "Coraline" recently (see below), it was not being shown in its 3-D version, since the number of cinemas offering this facility are still relatively few in Britain, not that this detracted from my enjoyment of the film in any way. However, I did welcome the opportunity to attend a preview 3-D showing of the above Cannes opener, not only because it is a film that I would wish to view regardless (and although it has been released Stateside, it will not be released here until October), but also because I was curious to see how the 3-D phenomenon has matured from those few that I'd seen previously.

My immediate reaction, despite the trailer for another animation and a short film aired before the main film being as "in your face" as I recall, capitalising if you will on tricky shots to emphasise the 3-D illusion, "Up" played down the novelty value and used its effects mainly to include and involve the viewer in the procedings. Although I have now read sufficient reviews to realise that not every critic would place it amongst Pixar-Disney's best, I would be inclined to agree with those who have labelled it an instant classic. Mercifully free from a twee storyline and anthropomorphic critters, despite a very appealing big bird and a selection of talking dogs, the main protagonists are an elderly man, childless and now widowed, and a lonesome kid who pours his all into his Wilderness Scout quest for badges. How these two end up together flying into adventure in the man's house attached to an army of balloons is the charming and smile-laden story. It does not shirk from avoiding the pain of a loved one's death nor the cantankerousness of age, but it does find a middle ground for its two flawed protagonists. Like a number of animations it gets a little soggy during the middle section as they are pursued by a dastardly explorer, but there are sufficient little pleasures throughout to make its relatively short running time a delight. The fact that the 3-D becomes less and less important as the viewer warms to the main characters is a testatment to the film's potentially lasting charm.
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