MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Review – UP

Up is so simple

49 Responses to “Review – UP”

  1. Wrecktum says:

    “Crack for the sentimental.” Great line and spot on (at least in my case).
    What I liked best about this wonderful fantasy was that my expectations were completely dashed. The film promises a familar banal theme of “always hold onto your dreams and don’t give up until you reach them” but then, thankfully, beautifully, turns that 180 degrees in the final act. For a 90 minute cartoon with only three locations and only three main characters, this baby has a lot to chew on.

  2. yancyskancy says:

    The Jean Cocteau shout-out certainly gets my hopes, um, up.

  3. LexG says:

    They should call this movie DOWN!
    If you’re a DOUCHE, you’ll go see the FUCKING CARTOON BULLSHIT this weekend. If you’re AWESOME, you’ll go see SASHA GREY or JESSICA BIEL or ALISON LOHMAN and come home and punch the clown like the fucking FUNHOUSE.
    If they made me review this movie I’d give it ZERO STARS because they didn’t even put any HOT SQUACK ATTACK in it.

  4. mysteryperfecta says:

    This is kind of a weird review. Besides saying the score is “great”, I found myself asking repeatedly, “But did you like it?” Now obviously, you did like it, and described in detail what was good about it, but you rarely attached personal sentiment to it, so I can’t tell HOW MUCH you liked it.
    Otherwise, good review.

  5. tjfar67 says:

    Should there have been a spoiler alert, or am I just dumb for not already knowing this from the advertising…
    “at its end, we would inevitably find out that Carl, the lead character, was imagining the entire adventure from a near-catatonic state in his rest home room.”

  6. Wrecktum says:

    That was Poland’s fantasy of what the ending should be. I won’t spoiler it by saying if it’s true or not…hell, screw it. I will. It’s not.

  7. Hopscotch says:

    For those who have seen it:
    should I see this in 2-D or 3-D?? Does it make that big of a difference?
    For example, a few years ago I saw this god awful terrible movie called The Polar Express. BUT, I did not see the Imax 3D version which I was told was a completely different experience and many saw past the story flaws and marvelled at the 3D awesomeness. I’m assuming UP is different, but how did you guys see it and do you think it effected your opinion of the movie?

  8. mysteryperfecta says:

    “should I see this in 2-D or 3-D?? Does it make that big of a difference?”
    For what its worth, ebert explicitly recommends seeing it in 2-D.
    By the way, has anyone read Armond White’s review?

  9. Blackcloud says:

    Ebert’s a Luddite now. He has no credibility on this stuff anymore. It’s funny that for someone who is far to the left politically in this respect he’s become such a rabid reactionary.

  10. tjfar67 says:

    Disregard my previous post, I was half asleep (or is it half awake) when I wrote it…

  11. jeffmcm says:

    Is Ebert really ‘wrong’ on 3-D etc? I mean, with the exception of The Polar Express, have any of the new slew of 3-D movies really been enhanced by the process? I’d say no.

  12. TMJ says:

    I had a similar thought as DP.
    Because the storm is such a narrative cheat (transporting Russell and Carl to S. America in hours without showing the how), I was convinced the film would end with Carl waking up in the house post-storm, and the adventure being a total figment. They’d introduced Russell and Muntz, so that was possible. That would have made the fantasy elements of the film a little easier to swallow.
    How odd it is that Pixar strives for – and attains – a level of reality in their films, only to abandon it with strange devices that aren’t always necessary. For me, the quintessential WTF moment in a Pixar film will be Remy tugging a sleeping Linguini to his feet in RAT. Takes me right out of the story every time. Mind you, it’s the story f a rat who can cook. I’m cool with that. But manipulating a sleeping man by pulling his hair is stupid. And so is watching Carl pull that house behind him as he, Russell, Kevin and Dug flee Muntz’s dogs. Yes, it’s a house floating by balloons. But you have to respect the physics of your imaginary floating house, and Pixar doesn’t. Odd.

  13. chris says:

    Fine review, but I beg to differ about the lack of a parent for Russell being a non-issue. It’s a very big issue and that’s part of what makes the ending so emotionally satisfying.

  14. Dr Wally says:

    “Is Ebert really ‘wrong’ on 3-D etc? I mean, with the exception of The Polar Express, have any of the new slew of 3-D movies really been enhanced by the process? I’d say no.”
    Coraline worked just dandy in 3-D. The problem is that as of yet you can’t duplicate the ‘polarized’ digital 3-D in the home, Blu-Ray can only deliver the crappy anaglyph red/blue glasses that cause ghosting and even headaches. Polar Express apparently looked awesome in polarized 3-D at IMAX, but the 3-D Blu-Ray is borderline unwatchable.

  15. Wrecktum says:

    The 3D version of Up is more immersive. The 2D is more colorful. That’s about it.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    Coraline did indeed work dandy in 3D, but that’s not what I was asking – it would have been a terrific movie in 2D too, I’m saying I don’t think the 3D added much of significance.

  17. Blackcloud says:

    My point was intended more generally. Ebert has become reflexively hostile to technological improvements and innovations in the theatrical presentation of film. Sometimes there’s a point (the new IMAX), but often he is against a new mode of presenation (digital, stadium seating) simply because it deviates from some imagined ideal of what going to the movies was like in 1954. Ebert’s attitude in this regard is a textbook example of why nostalgia is so pernicious.

  18. Blackcloud says:

    His crusade against dim lightbulbs in film projectors was (and is) necessary. But he’s carried that stance to everything. That’s where it fails.

  19. Wrecktum says:

    Ignore Ebert on this one. He’s still wrapped up in all that Maxivision bullshit that he’s been pushing these past umpteen years.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    Dim bulbs bad. Stadium seating good.

  21. Wrecktum says:

    Yes, stadium seating is the bomb! Especially for those of us that love keystoning and unbalanced surround sound. Screw those people who like good presentation!

  22. jeffmcm says:

    That’s crazy talk. A properly designed theater will have been set up to align the screen and speakers for both of those things. “Keystoning”? What century are you in?

  23. Wrecktum says:

    Sorry, I like you Jeff, but you don’t know what you’re talking about and arguing with you would be a waste of time. You should do some research on film projection if you’re interested in learning more.

  24. LYT says:

    Movies that were made better by 3-d: Polar Express, Open Season, Monsters versus Aliens, Beowulf.
    Not a single new classic in the bunch, though Polar Express in 3-d imax is one I’d gladly pay to see again.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Wrecktum, I saw Star Trek two weeks ago in a theater that wasn’t stadium seating, and my view was far crappier than any given seat in a stadium seat except if it had been in a far corner. Your point is misleading and trivial.

  26. I’d consider Beowulf close to a classic. And, while it’s just as wonderful in 2D, Meet The Robinsons was one of my favorite cartoons ever. It too is ‘crack for the sentimental’. I just got back from Up, and it’s easily my third favorite Pixar film behind Toy Story 2 and The Incredibles. I was never hardcore for Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, etc, but this is a stunningly powerful film.

  27. Wrecktum says:

    All you ever want to do is fight, jeff. It’s not all about you and your one bad experience. There are specific reasons why stadium seating is the lesser choice, but you don’t want to listen and learn.

  28. The Big Perm says:

    I’m sure Jeff has had more than one bad experience, as have I. I’d rather take a hit in sound in order to not have to look at some old lady’s bird’s nest hair, or some college dude’s white boy afro.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    I’m just expressing my personal opinion, Wreck. You’re the one who wanted to turn it into an issue. For me, sound quality is VASTLY less important than actually being able to see the whole screen. And any screen can look like a parallelogram, stadium or otherwise, depending on where you sit.

  30. Wrecktum says:

    Hey, I know I’m gonna lose this one. All modern theaters since the mid-90s have had stadium seating, so if you want to go to a newer house, you’re pretty much stuck with it. Plus, theaters with a traditional slope do have sightline problems.
    But the great old big houses with a proper sloping angle to seating, plus a nice, big screen parallel to the projector, and big speakers that don’t staircase up the wall ruining the stereo balance. THIS is the best theatrical experience, and there are very few places where you can enjoy it today.

  31. The Big Perm says:

    As long as I get to the theater early enough to sit in the row that is in front of the walkway, I’m you’re about a third or so back…I’m totally content. Those are The Perm’s seats.
    There’s a big old theater in DC that’s cool, but that place is the worst if you don’t sit in the middle. The screen is so big that it’s curved, and if you’re on the side the screen gets so skewed. Everyone looks like Plastic Man.

  32. Blackcloud says:

    Perm, you must be thinking of the Uptown. I always sit in the balcony there, middle of the first row if I can. It’s a great old theater with a great, 70′ curved screen, but alas, I try to avoid it now because the sound system there just isn’t up to snuff. I missed so much dialogue in Dark Knight it wasn’t funny. I just couldn’t hear it. Saw it in IMAX a few weeks later and it was much better. BTW, are you in DC? That makes two of us.

  33. martin says:

    I know what Wreck is talking about regarding “classic” seating style in a properly designed theater. The Ziegfield in NYC comes to mind as one that just has perfect presentation (or at least did when I was there 5 years ago). However, the vast vast majority of multiplexes with “classic” seating really suck if anyone’s in front of you. So stadium seating is a real improvement in those cases. The sound issues you’re talking about may well exist, but having heard very good surround sound in stadium seating, I don’t think you’ve got a strong case there unless you’re a severe audiophile. As long as the speakers are turned up to the right levels, the sub is working, and none of the speakers are crackling, I’m satisfied.

  34. Blackcloud says:

    I haven’t experienced any of the sound or projection problems in stadium theaters Wrecktum’s talking about. As he says, it’s definitely a minority viewpoint.

  35. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Agreed. Stadium seating is the way to go, even (and especially) for arty movies.
    As for “Up”? This review sounds a lot like all the others — plot summary garnished with product placement. At least there’s some context but not a lot.

  36. jeffmcm says:

    There is not a single instance of ‘product placement’ in David’s review above, unless his brief reference to Hallmark counts (it doesn’t). Chucky, you clearly didn’t even read it.

  37. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Pixar is referred to by name within the review. Who owns Pixar? Disney.
    When every film critic drools over “Up” and mentions Pixar the public gets the hint that these high-minded people are on the take. It’s no different from the cesspool that is Washington, D.C.

  38. Blackcloud says:

    That’s like saying mentioning NBC in a discussion about “30 Rock” is product placement because it’s owned by GE; or the same with ESPN because it’s owned by Disney. Chucky, you truly are a sociopathic retard. Any psychologists or psychiatrists here who can figure out just which wires in his malfunctioning brain are shortcircuited? He’s almost autistic in his monomaniacal, obsessive, singular crusade against “namechecking.” It would be sorta cute, in a quixotic, tilting-at-windmills kind of way if it weren’t for his grim, sullen, singlemindedness. Chucky’s is truly a one-track mind. Except the track is no longer than the wheels, and he’s spun them so long he’s now stuck in a rut dozens of feet deep.

  39. Hallick says:

    I hereby accuse Chucky of product placement in his very screen name because it plugs both the main character from the “Child’s Play” movies, AND the state of New Jersey (doing their tourist commission’s bidding, no doubt). And don’t forget the original Jersey in the U.K.!
    Or perhaps his “Chucky in Jersey” monniker is meant to act as a subliminal stimulus in order to get us to go down to our local sporting goods stores and buy as many team uniforms as we can. This man’s twisted deviousness knows no bounds, no bounds….
    He also mentions Pixar, Disney, and Washinton D.C. in his last comment, which is three more kettle of fish that I_CAN_NOT_ABIDE.
    See! Being batshit crazy is fun!

  40. Hallick says:

    And now, GREAT. I’ve got Rickie Lee Jones’ “Chucky’s In Love” stuck in my head thanks to the insidious lead in of Chucky in Jersey’s name. Damn you, C.J.!
    SHIT! C.J. Cregg from “The West Wing” now! FUCK FUCK FUCK THIS NEVER ENDS…

  41. Chucky in Jersey says:

    @Blackcloud: Do you know what a sociopath is? Show me proof that I am one, otherwise I’ll sue you for malice, libel and defamation.

  42. yancyskancy says:

    So “Chucky in Jersey” is just a “sue”-donym?
    Shall I be the one to ask the obligatory question regarding what’s so heinous about mentioning Pixar in a review of a film made by Pixar?

  43. don lewis (was PetalumaFilms) says:

    I’m with Wreck….stadium seating has ruined the film going experience. Not only are you not properly positioned to enjoy the film (you’re equal to the screen and it should be above you) people forget they’re in a movie in those seats. It’s like when Pauline Kael said something to the effect of sitting in the dark with strangers adds to the experience, and she’s right.
    When you are stadium seated, you’re in your own little world and forget there’s other people around you. While that’s generally preferable in life, I think people would be less likely to talk in a movie if some strangers head was 4 feet in front of their mouth like it is in a real theater. Plus the feeling of immersion when you’re in a dark room with strangers being dominated by a huge screen with great sound is lost in stadium seating. I can go on and on, but I hate that shit. I usually sit down in the front part.
    And “Up” is amazing. I went in thinking there was no way it could live up to the hype, but it did and then some. And all the weird little issues about how the house is navigated, etc., are valid, but the movies not about that. It’s about the ride.

  44. Blackcloud says:

    ^ Everything you say regarding stadium seating is, of course, purely subjective, and you can offer no objective evidence to support your claim.

  45. Wrecktum says:

    OK, you want something objective? Remember THX? Of course you do. Everyone used to love those THX bumpers back in the day. Did you know that THX wouldn’t certify stadium seating theaters when they first started to appear in the early-nineties? Stadium seating was an epic fail to THX.
    It wasn’t until the huge theater construction boom later in the decade forced THX’s hand and they changed their specs to allow stadium seating for certification.

  46. christian says:

    Yeah Chucky, I never get what you’re on about. I assume it’s the mass over-marketing of culture (with which I agree), but do you really think it’s irrelevant to note Pixar made UP? Would it be “product placement” to note Miyazaki’s name on his films? Or Spielberg? Or Woody?

  47. Blackcloud says:

    Specifically, I mean the stuff about proper positioning of the viewer in relation to the screen.
    Also, people don’t forget other people are around them. It’s hard to when so many people are checking their (BLANK) every two minutes, and your attention is distracted by the tiny blue glow emanating two rows in front of you to the left. Or the right.

  48. jeffmcm says:

    Chucky, you may or may not be a sociopath, but you are truly batshit.

  49. The Big Perm says:

    I recall no shortage of talking in the theaters where you could see everyone, but then you also have to contend with 6’3 guy sitting in front of you who doesn’t slouch.
    Hey Chucky, I fully admit I have no proof for calling you a sociopath crazy motherfucker, but I’m calling you one anyway. Sue me!

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin