Saturday, 9 January 2010


Out now on DVD and Blu-ray
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

In the opening moments of Up, a couple's an entire life together, from childhood to marriage and through to old age, is beautifully rendered in near silence. It's one of the best scenes from any film released in 2009; the rest of the film is also near-perfect.

78-year-old Carl Fredrickson (voiced by Ed Asner), the surviving half of the couple from the opening scenes, lives in his marital home despite the encroaching city developments: he refuses to sell the home where he and wife, Ellie, made their life together. But when circumstances force Carl's hand, instead of giving in he takes flight – literally. The former balloon vendor hitches thousands of helium balloons to his house and launches into the sky, headed for South America and Paradise Falls; Carl and Ellie fell in love over their shared sense of adventure and promised to go their one day but, as they say, life happens while you're making other plans.

Accidentally tagging along for the ride is Russell, a boy scout in need of a 'Helping the Elderly' badge. He's also in need of a father figure, much to the chagrin of the curmudgeonly Carl. Touching down on the cliffs opposite Paradise Falls, Carl and Russell proceed to drag the house to the waterfall, joined along the way by a large bird of colourful plumage, whom Russell names Kevin, and a talking dog named Dug.

Dug is on the outer with his fellow dogs who have been tracking the giant bird for their master, famed adventurer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), the man who inspired Carl and Ellie's love of adventure. But you should never meet your heroes, certainly not those who have spent years alone in the jungle chasing an elusive goal and have gone quite mad in the process.

While Up has an action-packed climax, it doesn't falter in the same way that Pixar's previous effort WALL-E did. That film also had a wonderful opening sequence but became repetitive in its second half. Still, many believed WALL-E was deserving of Best Picture consideration for the 2008 Oscars. Don't be at all surprised if Up is among the nominees for Best Picture this year, especially with the field expanded to 10; the Producers Guild (PGA) (a good indicator) just last week named it one of their 10 best of 2009.

I've already named it one of my best of 2009 and recommend that if you missed it at the cinema, do yourself a favour and catch it on DVD. And if you're not sold after the first five minutes, perhaps check for a pulse - you may very well be dead.

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