Up (2009) Review

RATING: 4.5/5

A grumpy old man’s dream of fulfilling his deceased wife’s dream is overcome with many obstacles that gradually bring life into him.

A movie that brings in the feels for sure.

The opening, needs no introduction. Everybody had talked about how perfect it was and, yes, it was perfect. As far as the visual storytelling accompanied by the music, it was all done superbly well. Even with no dialogue, one got an immense grasp of the emotions being brought forward from the life of Carl and Ellie. It was during the sequence that one could understand clearly the reasoning for Carl’s motivations and why he wanted to go above and beyond to fulfill a promise.

The concepts alone were quite imaginary and original. Sure, a house being lifted by thousands of balloons is virtually impossible. But, it did make the film fun to look with its bright colors and gorgeous cinematography. Whenever the house was floating graciously in the clouds or when Carl/Russel were walking the house, the imagery would be amazing.

Outside of the house, the film had very nice cinematography and visuals. Especially whenever the Venezuelan environment was showcased or when the “Spirit of Adventure” blimp was revealed.

As said prior, Carl was a great character with understandable motivations and the arc he went through flowed smoothly. The rest of the cast did pretty good too. There was quite a bit of back and forth parallels. Carl never had a child and had a difficult time with handling Russel. Russel doesn’t spend time with his father and had a difficult time having a male figure in his life, guiding/caring for him. Muntz represented the dark half of Carl. Just like with Carl for two-thirds of the movie, Muntz was a man with a burning passion and he wanted so badly to fulfill a promise.

Composer Michael Giacchino nailed it. Without him, the film probably wouldn’t have worked as well as selling the teary emotions. The tracks that sold the most were whenever Carl was on-screen solo. Tracks such as “Married Life,” “Carl Goes Up,” & “Stuff We Did,” were memorable and classic pieces.

So what’s keeping me from giving this a perfect rating? Well there were a couple things.

For one, the film wasn’t humorous for me. A lot of times I would be chuckling, but there wasn’t a time where I would burst. The “humorous” segments were more cute than anything. Like Kevin’s antics, the Alpha dog having a chipmunk voice, the dogs flying mini-airplanes, was all cute but nothing worth laughing heavily on.

I do wish there was something more with Muntz. This was the man or source of inspiration behind Carl’s character and reasoning for going to Angel Falls. It would have been interesting if there was some kind of conflict revolving around this.

One thing I completely forgot and stunned me was the fact this Pixar film showcased blood as clear as day. Something that prior films did very little and something that the later films hardly did. Quite a risk for Disney on their part, but it’s something I welcome.

Such a great film, not just in the Pixar line-up, but animations as a whole. It was a film that showcased how one shouldn’t be so wrapped up in the past and how they should simply live life to the fullest. Even if one can’t fulfil their lifelong dream, that shouldn’t stop them in the present. One should enjoy life the way that makes them happy.

If you haven’t seen it, drop what you’re doing. It had strong performances, great visuals, well done cinematography, memorable music, and above all else, it’s an emotional story that everyone should see to get a lift in life.

YouTube: LoneCentric Pictures/Tk Theater Productions

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Wall-E (2008) Review

RATING: 4/5

A small, compactor robot gets a visit from a female robot from a ship light-years away. The robot pursues her on a space-faring journey through the stars.

The first half of the movie, from the opening credits to when Wall-E reached the Axiom ship, was superb. Everything from the mood, setting, interactions, music, and the little dialogue portrayed, was handled so well.

As the film started, one was given an introduction to the planet Earth, while the song “Put on your Sunday Clothes” plays. Shortly one was introduced to Wall-E. He was an enjoyable character throughout. He was clumsy and na├»ve at times, but he was always pushing to thrive what he wanted, even if it meant losing his life. Wall-E always wanted to keep hope alive. As seen when he was residing in his living quarters or interacting with past Earth objects. A great design by the way. I love how it took inspirations from real-life rovers and turned it into something plausible.

I loved the scene where Wall-E was rolling through the trashy ruins of Earth. A great introduction and at the same time, a nice way for one to think of the situations that came into play to cause Earth to be like it was depicted. Even with the promo ad of B&L popping up, speculation was still there as to how Wall-E was the last of his kind cleaning up the trash. But still, it gave a healthy amount of what happened, how it happened, and what the end result was.

Once EVE dropped down on Earth, the adorable and cute factors were cranked up. The interactions between Wall-E and EVE were handled well throughout the movie. It placed a smile on one’s face when one saw Wall-E showcasing EVE his crib or when the two were harmoniously dancing around the Axiom ship. There was something about their relationship that felt really special and magical. I liked the moment when EVE lit the lighter, signifying a spark for Wall-E that she was definitely the one.

The music in the first half was great. Utilizing songs from the 60s musical “Hello, Dolly!,” added a sense of wonder and heartwarming charm. They were handled greatly whenever it was used in the opening credits with the space in the background or when Wall-E and EVE were sharing a moment. Other tracks too like “La Vie En Rose” or “Define Dancing,” deserve a highlight.

One of the main benefits of the first half was there being little dialogue. The film was mainly visual storytelling, which was something that really stands apart from other Pixar films. It wasn’t boring in the least. It was vastly entertaining and one can easily mute the picture to tell what was happening based on the characters interactions or their personalities/expressions. Having little words helped in one getting sucked into the world and to be invested in the characters in a fine, flowing manner.

While the first half hit all the right notes, the second half sadly was when things took a turn. The moment Wall-E reached the Axiom, the movie doesn’t quite reached the levels the first half garnered.

On one hand, the social commentary on how things such as advertising and technology impacting humanity was nice to witness. I liked the aspect of how us people can be so accustomed to the digital screens that once they’re removed, one saw a whole new world. I wish it was executed a bit better as there were times where it didn’t make sense for some of the people to not know about the things available on the ship, but others do. I wish it could have explored a little more of the concepts or maybe do something more with the humans detaching themselves from technology.

Another contradiction was EVE’s directive. She wanted to seek/prove that Earth was still habitable, yet Wall-E’s roach friend wasn’t enough for her to realize that.

A vast majority of the supporting characters don’t leave an impact as they were bland or uninteresting, especially the main villain. I mean something about the villain not seeing the plant as evidence confused me greatly. Some of the designs of the robots were neat. I will say the only character in the second half I did kind of liked was the Captain. He did make me chuckle from time to time.

The only saving graces from the second half were the scenes involving Wall-E himself or Wall-E/EVE.

“Wall-E,” with its first half, was exceptional. If the entire film kept that same mood, atmosphere, and direction, it surely could have been one of the best Pixar films. If not the best. Still, regarding the film as a whole, it was a great viewing pleasure. It delivered enough heart and uplift to make one feel deeply for the two main characters and their journey to the end. The second half had its moments of joy and comedy definitely and it doesn’t hamper the film drastically. “Wall-E” is still certainly worth seeing.

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