Friday, February 5, 2010

Up Yours

Okay, so this movie came out a while ago, it was one of those 3D movies for kids.
Maybe you've heard of it, it's called Up.

No, not the one with the gay cock! I meant UP. The Pixar one.

This movie didn't frustrate me. Something else did. The people who saw it before me.
The dialogue consistently went something like this.

Up viewer: "Man. Up came out and it was amazing/boring. I really loved/hated it."
Me: "Oh yeah, what was it about, exactly?"
Up viewer: "Well, uhh. It was about this old guy who like, put lots of balloons on his house and it flew up into the air."
Me: "..... that's it?"
Up viewer: "Oh, well there was a fat boy scout who he became friends with. Cause at first he was all grumpy."

If I was lucky, I would be treated to the extended explanation, which went thus.

Me: "Okay, so a grumpy guy flies his house up with a bunch of balloons and he meets a boy scout, then what?"
Up viewer: "Oh! Well, you know. Uhhm. There's like, this bird that they meet, it looks really weird. And there's a dog in it too."

And that would be what they told me. In full.


My sneaking suspicion that I still cannot let go of (I only saw the film two days ago - I mean did you expect me to rush out and see it with an explanation like that??) is that these people never actually saw the movie. They were just so fucking lazy that they wanted to pretend to be the Pixar fanatics they're not and relayed what they saw in the trailers of another movie.
So maybe you could argue that by giving away more of the movie, you'd be ruining the surprise.

What surprise?! Was there really anything to spoil in this movie?!

In case you're retarded, I won't bother explaining the oh-so-difficult twists and turns packed into this totally unguessable movie. Yeah okay, I'm getting cynical, but this is aimed more at the human red herrings that fed me this bullshit storyline than Pixar.

Wait, what the fuck - there are planes in this movie? And a blimp? Well gee, who do they belong to? The bird? Or the dog, maybe? Did the scouts come looking for the little boy who got trapped in the flying house with the old man? This sounds like a story. Maybe some kind of adventure.
Well, if you're like me and have taken an ice age to see this movie, let me let you in on a little secret.
Up is a lot better than the trailers make it out to be.

Okay, so maybe it isn't Shakespeare. And by Shakespeare, I mean The Incredibles and Wall-E, which were perfect in every way. But for a good old Pixar thrill ride, it was pretty good.
The old man doesn't start out grumpy like these asshats told me. He actually starts off a pretty nice guy, and becomes grumpy. For what I would call a pretty good reason. And he didn't just inflate these balloons in his house for no reason two minutes into the movie. Why don't you watch this film before explaining the plot to me?

It reminds me of a funny story involving a certain game for the original Playstation X, called "Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver".
My brother and I were addicted to the game that came before it, the original in the series: "Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain". Now many of you will know that I love vampires, but I fucking hate vampyres. Whiney emo pussy romantics have ruined these once brutal, savage creatures of the night by fetishising them into beautiful faggot goths, but Blood Omen was the real deal. Vampires that could turn into bats, mist or wolves, and drank blood by telekinetically sucking the blood in a stream from their victim's slashed-open bodies into their mouths.

Oh, god yes. Forget your sexual metaphors and romanticised fang-hickies. This was it.

At the very beginning of the intro of the sequel, Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver, we are even teased into thinking that the new hero is some kind of lipstick wearing goth. He looks more than a little bit gay.

But wait a minute! He doesn't look like that on the cover of the game!

Whoah, my mistake. The hero is BADASS. How did THAT happen?? My brother happened to have a friend who had the game, and he told us that the story involved some new bad guy creating a race of super zombies by throwing winged slaves into a vortex that changed them into weird superbeasts. But the hero decided to secretly defect! Hmm, okay. Then we played the game for ourselves.

Uhh, no. That's not what happened at all.

It was about Kain ruling the world for thousands of years after the events of the first game and Raziel, one of his loyal servants, had grown a pair of wings and Kain hated this so much that he broke the guy's wings and threw him into a portal of certain death. Then Raziel was resurrected yet more thousands of years later by a mysterious spirit who wanted to use Raziel as a tool to destroy Kain.

So how the fuck did he get THAT from THIS?
The answer is simple.

Watch for the actual story. Then watch it again with the sound turned off to get this other guy's fucked up version.

Gee, wow! This guy must have played the game with a broken set of speakers but still wanted to impress us by pretending to know what the story was.

The point of all this is that I felt the same sense of bafflement when I watched Up. Except this time it felt good. Because the movie wasn't as boring as all these idiots who had obviously never watched the movie made it out to be.

See, the thing about Up is, I think a lot of people were disappointed in it because they were expecting it to be The Incredibles or Wall-E. Well Jesus Christ. Give the man some credit. Peter Docter didn't direct those movies, Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton did, respectively. Docter's last film was Monsters Inc. It wasn't my favourite movie, but I still liked it, and personally I think Up is an improvement.
You get this old prick who's had it with everyone still alive, who devotes his life to what initially appears to be a noble cause but winds up being a pointless, even selfish persuit. The film is indeed packed with action, adventure, and characters other than the old man, the Asian kid and a couple of weird-looking animals.

Perhaps the bad guy lacks the emotional depth we are beginning to crave for animated characters. I mean come on, Pixar have pulled it off before. But his intentions are believable enough; he's just a secluded old man with a murderous obsession and a really bad case of paranoia. We've all met one before. You may have even had to live with one at some stage.

The only thing I don't like about the villain is that he is apparently a zillion years old and the dynamics of this are never really explained. Shouldn't he be in a wheelchair or something by now?
Anyway, I think people are beginning to get a little harsh on Pixar. One thing I like about this studio is that they never fuck things up.
They might come out with a movie that wasn't as heart-poundingly exciting as the last one, or as heart-tuggingly emotionally involving as the one before that. But is that a reason to call it a boring movie? You might as well say The Fifth Element was a bad movie because it lacked the complexity of the dialogue in Citizen Kane. Personally, I like the fact that Pixar are always pushing the boundaries by giving different directors a spin and taking the settings in unexpected directions. And focusing on making sure the story is coherent rather than how much the models look like the voice actors who play them. And having the team of artists and the team of programmers in separate divisions. And talking to animation magazines about how proud they are of their story team, and not their suite of computers that run Linux. You know, things that other studios DON'T do.

This movie was like rape without the confusing physical pleasure

Holy shit this movie sucked for so many different reasons

No, seriously, was I the only one who hated all these fucking cowpats?

Now for the real shocker, Up is actually a good movie. Sure, it has some of the usual Pixar eye-rollery (the "cross my heart" theme felt really lame, but maybe that's just me), but Pixar eye-rollery is forgivable. It's not like Blue Sky eye-rollery where the reason your eyes are rolling is because you are physically convulsing in disgust at what you are watching.
The story made sense, it was fun, I ended up really liking all the characters, there were a lot of really funny moments and it had a heartwarming conclusion that (thank GOD) didn't bash our brains in with some kind of moral lesson.

I just wish I hadn't been inflicted with all those half-assed reviews from people who hadn't seen the movie or I might have been able to watch it in 3D.

Awww, the dog misses out on the 3D experience. But then he probably doesn't have very good depth perception anyway. But I'm not a vet so I wouldn't know


  1. Oh hey, I can post comments here... If you wanted more of a plot synopsis I would have given you one when we talked before, but you kind of shut me down based on what other people told you before and didn't want to hear anything more. If someone doesn't want to hear/see something I don't push it on them.

    I think the review depends a lot on the reviewer- not everyone is good at that, nor critiquing as I'm sure you're well aware. In fact, on average I think most people suck at explaining or reviewing movies, you might take this for granted as you don't have much trouble with it yourself. I'd say keep that in mind when you reference your sources in the future, as it sounds like a good chunk of your blog is about you being irritated about that. But I'm glad you finally saw the film.

    I suppose you could look at it from an "everything happened as it is shown" sort of thing. A lot of people (who I talked to about the movie) had issues with the flying dogs existing and Charles Muntz age and things not matching up. It could be rationalized with "It's a movie, and fantastic things can happen in movies, suspension of disbelief" and that if Carl was say 10 when he saw the film, Muntz could have been in his 20s. If carl was 70 Muntz could have been 80 and some people age better than others. I think the biggest thing that didn't make sense is how Russell just appeared on the porch- if you look at the porch as the house takes off and as it flies away Russell isn't anywhere to be seen.

    But there's another idea I'd heard... that from the moment Carl goes to sleep the rest of the film is a dream. And that makes a lot of sense to me... I mean look at the symbolism, the way things in the beginning of the film link up to the rest of the movie.

    First off, and most obviously flying the house to Paradise Falls. Why would he dream about that? Because Carl feels like he has failed as a husband and broken his promise to his wife. Yeah, he tried, and when he got the tickets it was just too late. Bringing the house their symbolized him fulfiling his promise to her.

    Secondly, and a little less obvious Russell. In the beginning of the movie it was revealed that they could not have children. For Carl, Russell filled the void of the child he never had. I mean, why even include that scene if there is no reason? As it stands, it's mostly just there as a lame excuse why Carl doesn't have kids to take care of him and visit him.

    Third, Doug. He represents a companion. Bringing Ellie back in the movie would have been really... akward. And dreams don't usually come right out and say WHAT things symbolize.

    Fourth, Muntz. Carl has lived his whole life fantasizing about meeting his hero, and going to paradise falls. So, meeting him is a bit of wishfulfilment, and then his dream gets totally wonky when Muntz turns out to be evil

    There are other little things I'm not quite so sure on, like Kevin (reminds me a lot of the bird on the fireplace, but could have something to do with his wife working with birds at the zoo.) And the balloons (He sold balloons at his job, and his job was pretty much what would have got them there, funding wise.) but I think there are enough connections to make a good argument for the latter theory of this being Carls dream, and some of the things that are off being done on purpose. Who knows, I thought it was an interesting quandry at least.

  2. The dream element is quite interesting, but probably a bit deep for a Pixar film.
    I'd definitely agree that Russell represented the child that Carl never had. I also agree that his wife's inability to have a child supports the notion.
    Not so sure about the dog representing companionship in lieu of his wife. Really, I'd say Russell fills that role. Carl was a man who really only ever had one person sharing his life from what we've seen, and he and Russell become very close.
    It sounds crasse but I think the dog was there because he's cute and sells toys. But he still held a solid narrative function in the story so it's nothing to complain about.