Up (3D)

Posted on October 31, 2009. Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , |

So, I finally made it back to the cinema! This time it was to see the long-awaited Up, the first film I’ve ever seen in 3D.

I have to admit I was sceptical at first, I grew up in the age of those horrible green and red cardboard things and was a bit worried that seeing a film in 3D might be more annoying than exciting.  Turns out 3D glasses have come a long way, still not the most attractive thing in the world, but in the case of Up you end up looking quite a lot like our lead character which made me laugh every time I looked around the room.  As for the effects themselves, I think the jury is still out.  At times, the 3D was really cool, particularly in the wide angle shots of landscapes, and it did bring the action to life, but at other times I found it a bit distracting, and I couldn’t help continually taking off my glasses to see what the screen looked like without them. (Blurry, if you’re wondering).  I think with an animation like Pixar, 3D is a good thing, as it carries on what the computer has begun, but I’m not sure I’d like to see it spill into mainstream cinema too much.  There is a definitely increase in the number of films being released in 3D, so I guess it’s something I’ll be getting used to.  The trailer for the new Christmas Carol which came before was a clear example of 3D being just right, as the falling snowflakes really did look amazing in 3D.

Onto the film itself.  My first impression of Up is how shockingly sad it is!  We’re talking Bambi’s Mum here.  I’d seen a news report earlier about Up being one of the few films that has made men cry but kind of shrugged it off…turns out they were right.  It’s the opening montage that does it, where we find out how Carl Fredricksen goes from a cute little kid to a grumpy old man.  Up is an unusual film for Pixar, because it tackles some pretty adult content about loneliness and loss, and is one of the only films I can think of that centres almost entirely around a grumpy old man.  It might not quite stand up to some of its predecessors, but it is a good film, and I guess we should hand it to them for taking on a storyline you wouldnt expect in a kids’ film.

Once you get over the sad opening, there are some brilliant funny moments in the film, provided mainly by the counterpoint between Carl and cute boy scout Russell.  There were at least 3 things that had me laughing out loud, and the way that both characters are drawn adds to the contrast, with Russell pretty much ball-shaped, while Carl has an almost perfect square for a head.

The plot of the film is good too, there were a couple of times when I thought an obvious ending was approaching and was surprised to find the story heading in a different direction.  At 96 minutes it never drags, and is basically a fun ride from beginning to end.  One thing I did like was the new way Pixar has found for its animals to talk, stepping away from the Disney norm of all creatures great and small speaking perfect English-well, sort of.  There are actually very few characters in the film.  Apart from Carl and Russell, there’s comic relief dog Dug, quintessential bad guy Charles Muntz, and that’s about it.  Because of this, the film feels quite small despite the grandeur of its setting, with the floating house actually not having an awful lot to do with it in the grand scheme of things.  I think this works with a film like this which is really about the development of one character-Carl.  As I’ve said before, it’s unusual for any film, especially a kids film, to invest so much in a crotchety old man, but Pixar somehow manages to make him just loveable enough for it to work.  I’m betting that opening montage has a lot to do with it.

Also a departure for Pixar is the lack of all-star voice talent.  Apart from Christopher Plummer inhabiting our villain, the rest of the voices come from relative unknowns or one of the films directors (Bob Peterson).  At times, it can be distracting having a really recognisable voice in a film so it was nice to be able to only have one character with whom I associate the voice.

Altogether I think Up is a worthwhile family film with enough in it to keep the big kids (i.e. me) happy and lots of bright colours and flying about for the little ones.  I did kind of get the impression that this was a film for boys, (there’s really only one female character in the whole film, and she’s called Kevin!) and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that quite a lot of Pixar films are leaning more towards the male than female market.   In  Toy Story we have Andy with typical boy toys: cowboys and space men;  Finding Nemo is all about a boy and his father, Cars is just obvious…the only one I could think of with a more feminine air was Monsters Inc, and that’s just for Boo, because otherwise that’s quite a boyish film too.  It’s not necessarily a criticism, but I wonder if Pixar have noticed how many of their films centre around a young male character with, more often than not, and older male representing some kind of lost father figure.  I’ve mentioned before the Hollywood obsession with “Daddy issues” and it seems that Pixar, and all of Disney in fact, might be some of the biggest culprits. ‘Course if you’re like me and tend to prefer the boy films then it’s not really an issue.

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How to survive the British Summer

Posted on April 29, 2009. Filed under: News, Ramblings, Trailers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Summer’s coming, and that means one thing…loads of movie releases to keep the kids (and everyone else) happy during the inevitably rainy summer holidays.  The Summer Blockbuster line up has already begun with Wolverine, but there are a few more to keep an eye out for if, like mSpocke, you need something to look forward to during exam season.

The first, and most obvious, is the new Star Trek movie, opening next week (8th May).  I’m not a trekkie, but that’s more because I just never saw it than a conscious decision to avoid.  I have been made to watch one star trek film, and it was good, despite the fact I needed most of what was going on explained to me by a trekkie friend.  I’m intrigued by the new offering, if only to gawp at the ridiculousness of Zac “Sylar” Quinto’s eyebrows, and it does look promising. Surprisingly little has been said about Chris Pine, our new Kirk, with most promo focussing mainly on Quinto and Simon Pegg.  As a relative unknown, that makes sense, and it will be interesting to see what the hard core fan reaction is.  From the little I’ve seen in the trailers, and in my hugely inferior knowledge, I think something’s missing. But I’m more than likely to be wrong.

Following Star Trek, we have Angels and Demons, the sequel to The DaVinci Code. I’m semi-ashamed to admit that I loved the books, but I accept that the writing is terrible, and this is coming from someone who, as a rule, doesn’t read.  However, I was really disappointed with The DaVinci Code movie after some plot tweaking took all the sympathy out of Paul Bettany’s Silas.

Angels and Demons is a carbon copy of DaVinci, you can even match up character types between the books, but having said that, the twists and conspiracy theory that makes Dan Brown so infamous did make it very compelling and I have no doubt the film will be the same.  Perhaps the fact that I haven’t read the book in 3 years will mean I can enjoy the prequel more, since I’ll be in less of a position to play spot the difference with the adaptation, and the addition of Ewan McGregor to the cast should be a good thing, altough I’m sure boys will be mourning the loss of Audrey Tautou.

If drama isn’t what you’re after, then on the 10th July Bruno hits the screens, the latest of Sacha Baron Cohen’s creations.  I have no doubt that this will be a huge success, but I wont be seeing it.  I think I’m in the 10% of the world that thought Borat was awful and so I’m not holding my breath for Bruno, but maybe it’ll be better than I expect.  I know that lots of you out there can’t wait for it.  Maybe I’ll catch the DVD.

A friend also pointed out Moon to me.  Starring Sam Rockwell and coming out on 3rd Sept.  Not strictly a blockbuster but as soon as I saw the trailer I was hooked.  It follows an astronaut about to end a three year stint alone aboard a space station when everything goes a bit 2001.  Check it out ‘cos I reckon it’s going to be the turning point in Rockwell’s career.

Finally, I’ll quickly mention Up, a film I’ve been telling a few friends about and have been looking forward to for a while.  It doesn’t quite count as a Summer blockbuster, as it’s not coming out until the 16th October, but I wanted to give it a mention.  It’s the latest from Pixar Animation Studios, and once again they’ve chosen to pick a challenging medium and place a storyline in it.  They’ve done fur (Monster’s Inc), water (Nemo) and fast track racing (Cars) but now they’re taking us into the air, with one of the weirdest story premises I’ve ever heard.  Wanted to see it instantly.  Here’s the trailer:

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