In a nutshell:- Pixar does it again.
The Basics:- Seems hard to believe but this is the tenth Pixar film and the ninth one that I've watched*. It's also their first film to venture into the realm of 3D and continues a growing sense of maturity in their films. Up follows the adventures of septuagenarian Carl as he attempts to follow his dead wife's dream of adventure by flying his house by helium balloon to South America. However, the presence of a stowaway wilderness scout called Russell and the discovery of a rare giant bird means that things don't go quite to plan...
The Good:- I feel a little bit like I'm repeating myself but it really does seem like Pixar's films get better every time. The opening sequence which takes us heartbreakingly through Carl and his wife Ellie's life together, bringing us right up to his current state of widowhood, seems a far cry from Pixar's beginnings with Toy Story and A Bug's Life. That's not to bash those early films - they're still fantastic films - it just shows how Pixar is unwilling to stick with a tried and tested successful formula simply because it works; if it's part of the story, then that's the direction they're going on. That's not to say that they've ignored the funny - there are some great moments of verbal and visual humour. Pixar certainly know their slapstick - witness Russell's window-scraping moment as a particular highlight. The 3D also adds considerably to the film and not in the standard "poking-things-out-towards-the-camera" sort of way. It adds real depth to the sweeping South American scenes and the climactic set pieces, feeling like it's being utilised wisely instead of gratuitously.
The Bad:- Not a lot to pick out here but, for me, the characters of the enemy dogs didn't quite work as well and the joke of the helium-voiced Alpha dog fell a little flat. It's only a minor niggle, however - I'm really just dredging to think of something bad to say!
The Verdict:- Another triumph. Funny, sad, exciting and uplifting**, Pixar is one of the few film studios that seems to completely buck the law of diminishing returns. Go see it. If you're disappointed by it then I'm afraid there may be no hope for you. Plus it's got a teaser for Toy Story 3 and you know, given their track record so far, that's a sequel that's more than likely to be worth a watch...
* I've never watched Cars. For some reason, the premise just didn't really grab me. It all looked a bit pedestrian. That was an unintentional pun. Honest. I do that a lot.
** I did quite well to not use words like that up until the end, I thought.