Up: Yeah it was great but it wasn’t THAT great. Reviews had me thinking it was one of Pixar’s masterpieces, but I would rate it below Monsters Inc, and way less good than the masterful The Incredibles. I went in thinking it would be all about the old man’s magical journey in his floating house, but the awesome balloon ride only lasted a couple of minutes and then he was in South America with the ridiculous talking dogs. And about those dogs: sure, it’s a fantasy. We have already seen a man levitate his house with balloons; it’s a world in which such a technology can be allowed to exist. But I was still stuggling to suspend disbelief, perhaps because it felt like something shoehorned in to increase the film’s cuteness and humur quotients.
Still, the dogs were not what annoyed me most. What did was the South America setting: they reduced a continent to a rocky wilderness populated by freakish birds and devoid of people. It’s just an otherworldly arena for a battle between two old American guys. And I know the whole point is that it’s not a real South America, it’s the land of the guy’s childhood dreams, etc, but still. I’m not satisfied. I’m reminded of one of Chinua Achebe’s criticisms of Heart of Darkness:
Africa as setting and backdrop which eliminates the African as human factor. Africa as a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril. Can nobody see the preposterous and perverse arrogance in thus reducing Africa to the role of props for the break-up of one petty European mind?
So yeah, overall: disappointing.