Yesterday my wife took me to see Up, the latest release from Pixar whose trailers you can hardly have missed over the last several months. Simply stated, it’s one of the finest if not the finest full-length animated cartoons ever made. The art, of course, is wonderful but it doesn’t stop there. It has an engaging plot, interesting characters, strong emotional development, and it deals with mature themes in a manner more sophisticated than is generally encountered in an animated cartoon. The whole work is beautifully realized. Additionally, it’s the first example I’ve seen either in live action or animated films in which 3D is used as an integral element of the story rather than as just a gimmick.
Back in the early 1950’s I saw any number of pictures in 3D which was quite a fad during that period. Even in the very best of those pictures among which I would number Dial M for Murder, Kiss Me Kate, and Hondo, I detect a certain self-consciousness in the 3D coupled with the failure of the technology to enhance the story itself. From what I’ve been able to detect in the recent spate of cartoons released in digital 3D that appears largely to be the case this time around, too. That isn’t the case with Up.
The analogy would be the use of Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz. The picture is completely enjoyable in black and white (I know because I watched it that way for years). But Technicolor definitely adds to the viewer’s enjoyment of the film and there are some aspects of the movie you just don’t get in black and white.
The trivia section in the IMDB entry linked to above is particularly interesting.
In tone and content I thought that Up showed strong influences of Miyazaki’s work, particularly Howl’s Moving Castle. It also had dog behavior completely nailed, unsurprising since one of the best dog behaviorists in the world was a consultant to the film.
I strongly recommend that you see Up, in 3D if it’s at all possible. Bring Kleenex.