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Up accomplishes in a ten minute montage more character depth than most films can in 90. The back story between Carl and his wife, Ellie, is cleverly, beautifully established with a minimum of dialogue (Carl says only one word in his 78 year life span) in one of Pixar’s most accomplished pieces of visual storytelling. Considering their previous effort was WALL-E this is even more impressive. Carl’s journey begins in a fantastic manner but the animators fill in such small key details as to make it all the more real, from the bursting pipes and ripped up boards to his troubles with the makeshift sails. Danger is a constant in the film, too, from the miniscule and ever present (sagging helium balloons) to the sudden and terrifying (rushing into a lightning storm). The surprise introduction of a villain in the film is handled in such a manner as to be menacing without overly horrifying, a revelation of madness mostly seen through Carl’s reactions. His building relationship with Russell, the tag-a-long Wilderness Scout, develops slowly and strongly throughout the film, never too much too soon. A beautiful story, brilliantly told, with rich renderings and great voice work, Up is easily one of the best films of 2009. 5 stars

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