Movie Review: Disney-Pixar’s Up (in 3D)

Animated movies have their own charm, you have to admit. From Toy Story to Finding Nemo to Wall-E, each one strikes cords and taps into the creative subconscious where other movies epically fail. The latest addition, aptly entitled Up is the newest entry, and it’s probably the absolute best.

This is the first time I attend a 3D animation wearing 3D glasses. If you get the chance to watch it in full 3D, don’t miss out – it’s a world of difference!

The charm in Up lies in its striking character development and story telling. It’s a simple yet beautiful story that will fail to touch you only if you’re a cyborg in need for some serious emotional circuitry. The first few minutes of the film develop the core of the plot and is too precious to spoil here. To be able to set up the character backgrounds in a mere few minutes is a mighty feat, something that I thought was a one-time achievement with Wall-E.

Years after the events in the beautiful introduction, the now-old Carl (the old grumpy fellow in the trailer) sets off with his house – literally – suspended from a myriad of balloons to seek Paradise Falls in South America, to fulfill a promise. All things were going well until someone knocks on his door – in mid air.

Pixar's "Up"

Looks like a young boy scout, Russel, was trapped as the house took off. Russel, too, has a vow to fulfill, and without any alternative the old Carl and the young doofus Russel will have to cope with each other.

The film is an intelligent approach to elderly-child relationships, and both offer loads of humor since both age groups can do and say stuff andget away with when other age groups can’t. It’s pretty hilarious when the two bicker about an issue which only makes sense in both views of life. Lots of humor is also stemmed from secondary characters – ‘pets’ acquired along the trip who also become the focal point of much of the tension and the film’s climax. The animals are adorable and absolutely hilarious, and how they interact with each other as well as with Carl and Russel is naturally amusing.

Pixar's "Up"

It also helps that the film’s art direction is superb. Characters are polished well with details and believable facial expressions. The animation is fluid and varied and the environments are equally elegant. Watching the film in 3D truly makes a difference – you feel as though you’re literally there and more often than not I extended my hands to touch someone’s face LOL!

Pixar outdid themselves this time just like they did with Wall-E. Two naturally hilarious age groups combined with animals make for an unforgettable and a truly touching adventure.

Pixar's "Up"

This is an absolutely MUST see movie. In fact it’s currently number 15 on the top 250 on IMDB with a score of 9.0. If that doesn’t say something then I dunno what will.

The Clocktower

This is a beautiful piece of art, an expressive animation from a talented Cara Antonelli from deviantART. Watch the short animation, then check out her deviantART page as well as these two complementary pieces of art as well (here and here).

Note that dA usually changes the direct links every once in a while so if they don’t work just visit her page and find them there :)

Enjoy the video!

Movie Review: Beowulf

I was pretty excited this weekend since I had planned to watch Beowulf, and, even though my friends attempted to thwart my Angelina Jolie fetishism, I ultimately had the final word against six.

Prior to going to the film, I read some reviews and I was surprised to learn that it was a 3D animated movie – shocked in fact, since I have seen the trailer and haven’t noticed the photo-realistic approach. I suddenly had my doubts and thought this was going to be catered to young kids, but given that Angelina Jolie appears naked in the movie I quickly dismissed the idea and went ahead with the plan.

Quite simply, I was blow away.

Beowulf

The story in Beowulf retells the epic poem tale but actually – like most Hollywood movies – deviates substantially from the original plot and creates a new tale based on the old one. This time though, the retelling is for the better, since the plot of the movie is coherent and relates the events and characters rather than sticking to the bard-song tale of old, but of course this is a bit double edged. On the plus side, like I noted, the story is nicely tied together and the characters now relate to each other in different ways. On the down side, puritans may be put off as well as the Angelina Jolie fans since Grendel’s mother (Ms. Jolie’s role) has her own epic battle in the original poem and not in the new tale. But in the context of the movie, it makes sense to deviate from the original text.

The highlights of the movie – and frankly the sellers of it – are the 3D graphics and Angelina Jolie’s presence in the film. As for Jolie, although her acting part is very small in the film, it really does an excellent job whether you are into the sex-sells business or not. Angelina is the perfect actress to be Grendel’s mother, the main villain and seductress of men – whether or not they rendered her fully nude and had her dipped in liquid gold. She simply rocked the film.

Beowulf

The 3D graphics blow everything else out of the water, and the closest thing that would come to it is Advent Children which was released in 2005 but lo and behold what technology can do in two years. Although, to be all perfectly honest, both movies have perfected the 3D genre in different terms. Just like Advent Children before it, Beowulf has a living, breathing world with beautiful (if somewhat barren) landscapes and a staggering amount of detail put into everything – from textiles to facial features all the way to the textures on the walls and facial hair. In some respects, Advent Children does a much better job, especially in the fluidity of the animation. In a couple of scenes it could be visible that the frame rate in Beowulf drops, and the way the horses and characters run is a bit stiff. Advent Children on the other hand – considering how fast paced the movie is – is technically much more superior in that regard, with not a hint of slowdown with all the action going on. But then again, Beowulf is a much more photo-realistic render (light-years ahead) than Advent Children and surpasses it in that aspect.

My only gripe though is that the pace of the movie was a bit off at first. It starts off very slow until the Grendel battle and the time used in nonsense conversations could have been used to establish the reason behind Grendel’s suffering more so that people sympathise with him. I felt it important because in the retelling, both Grendel and the Dragon have something in common which is not explained until further into the movie, and while I understand the reason behind concealing Grendel’s identity in the beginning, I thought it odd to not at least show some reason behind his actions other than an overly sensitive ear drum.

Beowulf

Other than that, I was thoroughly impressed with the movie, not only because it re-tells an old legend in a new, fresh way with some subtle concepts and ideas, and not only because I am a huge Angelina Jolie fan… but because the movie is thoroughly enjoyable, strange, feels truly epic (the Dragon battle is probably the highlight of the entire film and it was as exciting as the Dragon battle in Advent Children)… and that it pushes the technical possibilities to the limit and shows Hollywood that you don’t need fluffy animals and funny one-liners to make a good 3D film.