Following Pixar’s unprecedented streak of 9 successful films, the feature UP makes history by taking computer animation to a new dimension. It is the first studio feature to be released in Disney Digital 3D and is also the first animation that opened the prestigious Cannes Festival du Film.
Director Pete Docter along with his creative team, Bob Peterson, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Oscar®-nominated composer Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille, The Incredibles), bring to the screen two very distinct characters, both reaching to fulfill their lifelong dreams.
Carl is a grouchy, but likable elderly man trying to escape the world aboard his floating house held aloft by thousands of colorful balloons. His destination is one of the world’s most remote and beautiful locations, Paradise Falls, a place Carl and his late wife planned to visit together. But Carl’s plan is disrupted when an optimistic, overly eager 8-year old Russell appears on Carl’s porch floating up along with the house. Russell is a Junior Wilderness Explorer, and one badge away from reaching his life long goal of becoming a Senior Wilderness Explorer.
During their journey, they encounter, a villain, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), the extremely rare 13 feet flightless bird with beautiful feathers named Kevin, and a dog named Dug (Bob Peterson) in addition to a pack of menacing dogs, all equipped with a GPS tracking device capable of translating the dogs voice into speech.
UP resonates with common life experiences and emotions, addressing issues of loneliness, identity, and belonging. Vocal performances are rich and textured. Ed Asner’s voice transcends the line between comedy and drama while Russell’s meandering voice always sounds funny. Russell’s naiveté and voice makes him sound like a real kid rather than an actor.
Up’s caricatured-look is a departure from previous Pixar animations. The characters express complex emotions other than just cute or happy. Carl’s face is the most expressive face Pixar has ever done.
The beautiful cinematography along with the complex camera movements, complement the tremendous sense of scope, scale and adventure, such as in the scene of the house lifting off the ground. This is also illustrated in the aerial views of Paradise Falls, a place full of sculptural rock formations, inspired by Venezuela’s Tepuis mountains and a mythical waterfall 9,700 feet high, three times taller than the tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls.
The feature’s vibrant aesthetics, humor, and adventure are well balanced, appealing to both adults and children alike.