Film Friday: ‘Up’ & ‘Drag Me To Hell’

by W. Andrew Powell

Pixar's Up

Pixar's Up

This weekend has not one, but two amazing movies opening, and they’re both getting the kind of reviews that most genre films can only dream about. The first is Disney-Pixar’s first 3-D movie, Up, which debuted at Cannes this month; while the other is the latest from horror director Sam Raimi, Drag Me To Hell, starring Alison Lohman.

Whether you’re talking about Pixar’s films, or the studio itself, Up seems to be an apt word for the company that has simply become one of the best studios in the world. Producing hit after hit, Pixar has the odd distinction of being able to work strictly in the realm of animation, while reaching out to audiences with intelligent, thoughtful, and ultimately entertaining films.

Up follows the distinct success of Wall-E, but as with every film they have made, bears its own unique style completely. The only question is whether this new animated film can reach the success of its predecessors.

Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter takes to the helm again with Edward Asner voicing the crotchety Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old balloon salesman who yearns for adventure. Carl takes his chance when housing developers threaten to put him into a nursing home. Attaching thousands of balloons to his house, he goes on the trip of his life, it is only once he is in the air that he discovers a little too late that he has a stowaway in the chubby shape of eight-year-old Wilderness Explorer Russell, voiced by first-time actor Jordan Nagai.

Traveling to the Venezuelan jungle, the duo are the perfect odd couple for a new animated era, dealing with their fears and feelings, and the wonders of the jungle, all at once. It’s a story that many reviewers have already suggested may play out more for adults than children.

As with every other film Pixar has made, Up is getting spectacular reviews, close to 99% on and 100% on

“The overall look of the film, with its breathtaking aerial views of South American landscapes and its symbolic interplay of squares and circles, puts every other animation studio to shame,” wrote Mike D’Angelo for the AV Club.

And Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that the film, “could easily have been cloying, but instead proves disarming in its deep reserves of narrative imagination and surprise, as well as its poignant thematic balance of dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled.”

Drag Me To Hell
From the director who brought us the Evil Dead films, and the Spider-Man trilogy comes the latest return to horrific by the great Sam Raimi.

Starring Alison Lohman, Drag Me To Hell is the tale of Christine, a young bank officer who kicks a mysterious old lady out of her home when the woman can’t make her payments. In retaliation, the old woman curses Christine, setting an evil spirit on her that turns her entire life to hell.

It is only by turning to a seer that Christine can try to reverse the curse, but the cost could be very high indeed.

Although I found the trailers a little silly, Drag Me To Hell is getting some of the best reviews of the year so far, especially when you consider that this is a horror film.

“Drag Me To Hell was quite simply the most perfect horror film I’ve seen in a long, long while,” Brad Miska of Bloody Disgusting gushed. “Raimi stirs a delicious witches brew that blends gore, scares and fun into a perfect blend.”

While Brent Simon of Screen International called it, “A slickly made, engaging horror film that evokes the spirit of much of the director’s early work.”

Coming to theatres in June…

June 5
The Hangover
Land of the Lost

June 12
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Imagine That

June 19
The Proposal
Year One

June 24
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

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