Saturday 19 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0


None June 4th, 2009


It's nice to see a company maintain a certain level of quality. All too often, executives and marketing folks slowly erode companies by directing their resources away from quality entertainment and toward ubiquitous and sometimes inexplicable, marketing campaigns designed to bedazzle the greatest possible number of people into the theater on opening weekend. (Remember the "Wolverine" pizza from Papa John's? What was that about?)

"Up" represents Pixar's opposite philosophy. While the film had prerelease marketing, the public wasn't beaten over the head with it every time we turned around. There were no Old Man Carl Floating Chicken Nuggets, nor were there Dug the Dog Communicator Collars included with Happy Meals or any of the other products aimed at the nation's hapless preteens. One suspects Pixar's marketing people just know a good movie doesn't need any gimmicks.

"Up" is the story of recently widowed Carl Fredrickson (voiced by Ed Asner, "Elf"). Carl's wife passed away before fulfilling her dreams of adventure in the wilds of South America. Now 78, bereft, alone and facing forced residence at a "retirement village," Carl hatches a crazy, screw-it-I've-got-nothing-to-lose plan.

If you've seen the movie's trailer, you know Carl attaches thousands of helium-filled balloons to his house and takes off into the sky. On his way to the land of alpacas and Andes mints, Carl discovers Russell (newcomer Jordan Nagai) cowering on his porch. Russell is part of a fictional, Boy Scout-equivalent organization, and he's trying to get his last activity patch for "helping the elderly." Carl is displeased, and he attempts to turn around and take Russell home. But they get sucked in a storm and whisked away to the remote mountains of Venezuela.

Once there, the duo picks up a giant tropical bird that Russell names Kevin, and a dog named Dug (voiced by co-director and writer Bob Peterson) who has an electronic collar that allows him to speak. Carl, whose basic plan was to die in South America among his memories of Ellie, becomes increasingly frustrated with the complications and entanglements his adventure encounters. When it turns out he's not the only adventurer in the region, things become urgent and Carl's priorities shift from finding a place to die to making sure Russell, Kevin and Dug live to see another day.

"Up" is an almost-perfect blend of plot and character. The first 10 to 15 minutes of the movie are spent introducing us to Carl and his wife through a nearly dialogue-free montage of their life together. What follows in nearly all fast-moving action that, without the opening section to help us like and care about Carl, would be all flash-and-bang.

Peterson and his co-director Pete Docter ("Monsters, Inc.") "” seem to understand that although they're working in a purely special effects-based medium, special effects are not compelling or even very entertaining without an emotional connection to the characters.

"”Mike Robertson

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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