Pixar raises the bar even further with their first film in 3-D. The process allows the stunning set pieces to take on a greater depth, but the technique is never used at the expense of the story. Once I got used to wearing 3-D glasses over my regular glasses, what came into focus was a beautiful film brimming with humor and heart.
Carl Frederickson (Ed Asner), the widowed balloon-maker at the center of the film, is a man of few words. With his feelings locked up in the dusty memories inside his house, it is up to Giacchino to give musical voice to his heartache. And he does so beautifully.
From charming dance band tunes to rousing action cues and a lovely theme for Muntz (Christopher Plummer), Giacchino charts the course of Carl’s life through the music. The score is borne aloft by a memorable waltz “that grows and twists and turns through the whole course of the film,” said Giacchino in an interview with SciFiWire.com. When Carl’s house pulls up stakes tethered to 10,000 colorful balloons, our hearts float up, up, and away.
Giacchino’s music shines in the delightful “Married Life” montage as we see Carl and Ellie’s love grow and mature. And if you don’t tear up as Carl looks through Ellie’s adventure book, you’re made of stronger stuff than I.
But the film is ultimately a dual love story. Not only Carl’s love for his dearly departed Ellie, but also his burgeoning affection for Russell (Jordan Nagai), the intrepid, roly-poly Wilderness Explorer stowaway. Giacchino’s score becomes the romantic heartbeat at the center of the story, Carl’s spark of life and love that he still carries with him.
UP soars to great heights by keeping its very human characters down to earth. The combination of Pixar’s winning film and Giacchino’s soaring score rates not just two thumbs up, but all ten fingers and toes.