What happens when you make a movie within a studio system that’s not run by accountants or marketing people, but run by film makers? You get “Up,” the latest CGI-animated feature from 3D juggernaut Pixar. “Up” isn’t simply the best Pixar film to date – it’s a great movie, period. I don’t care if you think “cartoons” aren’t for you or if you tend to steer clear of “kids movies,” this is something everyone who likes movies will love.
One thing I’d like to do is take everyone who loves the new Star Trek movie, show them “Up” and see if they’ll still cling to their belief that Trek is a “great” movie. And I’m tired of hearing people say “oh well it’s not fair to compare them, they’re totally different movies, blah blah blah.” Look, either a movie is great or it isn’t. Star Trek is a mindless action movie that succeeds in being fun but fails to be a truly great movie. “Up,” on the other hand, is not only fun, it’s an inventive, clever, emotionally satisfying journey with multi-dimensi0nal characters that literally has you laughing out loud one moment and crying the next (and yes, I’m man enough to admit that “Up” had me fighting back tears a few times).
You just can’t do better than that in a movie. Oh wait, yes you can, you can make it in 3D and completely have your senses blown away! And speaking of 3D, you should definitely see “Up” while wearing those funny little glasses, even if it means driving a few extra miles. Here, we finally have a 3D movie that understands the whole point of stereoscopic film making is to simply draw you into the story even further with an extra dose of reality. Not once does “Up” resort to cheap gimmicks that say hey, look, you’re watching a 3D movie! There are no spears poking out at you, no rocks flying into the audience and no butterflies that make you want to reach out and grab them – the 3D simply makes everything seem more real and, ultimately, deepen your involvement with the story.
And what a story it is. “Up” is a 3D film in every sense – the plot, characters and imagery is as multi-dimensional as it gets and, while there is no doubt that “Up” will be a hit with younger viewers, it doesn’t feel like a “kids movie.” There are several plot points and a whole slew of jokes that only adults will appreciate, making “Up” feel like a trans-generational film – it simply tells a young-at-heart story aimed at no specific age group. I guarantee the twelve-year-olds who see and love this movie now will appreciate it on a whole new level when they see it again in years to come.
That’s one of the charms of the original Star Trek series; sure, when I was ten years old I got into Trek for the spaceships and phasers, but when I revisited the series again as an adult there was so much more to explore. I doubt anyone is going to discover new dimensionality to the 2009 Star Trek upon repeat viewing, but if you’re hungry for a movie that explores strange new worlds, new life, and new civilizations, go see “Up” - it will remind you what it’s like to have a movie take you on a truly awesome adventure.
UPDATE: I’ve taken some heat for “dissing” the new Trek movie in this review. Read my comments below for further clarification…