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  • upComposed by Michael Giacchino
  • Walt Disney Records Download / 2009 / 53:23

Expectations can be a dangerous thing.  Having raised the bar so high – and consistently outdone themselves – I was expecting Up to be another Pixar masterpiece.  It’s good – its first half, very good – but sadly it’s no masterpiece.  An old man looks back on his life and realises that he never did the one thing he promised his wife he would do – and so sets out to do it following her death.This is Pete Docter’s first directorial outing since the brilliant Monsters, Inc. – but is a very different animal.  Michael Giacchino scores his third Pixar film – and given that his previous score for the studio, Ratatouille, is the best thing he’s done – again, my expectations were sky high; and, perhaps inevitably, not met.  This is decent enough music, anchored around a pair of strong themes, but it doesn’t quite have the magic that most Pixar scores from the past have done.  The old-fashioned jazzy main theme is very pleasant and the waltz theme for the main character and his wife is full of whimsy; but somehow it never feels quite as special as one feels it should have done.

Curiously, the best track on the album, “Married Life”, is an example of this; it’s also the film’s outstanding moment, but the music doesn’t make it quite so oustanding as it could have – the montage sequence is very powerful for what is nominally a children’s animation film and the extended version of the waltz theme is really charming – but I just don’t get the magic from it.  The number of very short cues probably don’t help – the music flits about all over the place, from the aforementioned whimsy to a surprising amount of all-out-action, and it does so with frequency.  It’s all professionally-done, of course, and much like the film, might not be quite as good as I had hoped but is still far better than the equivalents from other studios.  But I can’t help but think that the fact that I have to keep reminding myself of that while listening, really can’t be a great thing.  So my recommendation is a slightly cautious one (don’t expect anything on the level of Ratatouille) – but a recommendation all the same.  Mystifyingly, Disney chose to release the score as a download only.  ***

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  1. mastadge (Reply) on Wednesday 14 October, 2009 at 13:34

    I felt the same way about the score, but it has grown on me. I do still feel that it drags in the middle, though. I usually listen to tracks 1-4 and then skip to 16 or thereabouts, where the action kicks in.

  2. e (Reply) on Thursday 15 October, 2009 at 15:35

    There’s a big problem with this soundtrack. On CD it actually sounds BAD, simply repetitive and boring. A ** stars effort. But in the movie it sounds much, much better and rises to a **** stars effort. It just works a lot worse on CD, I can understand why Disney didn’t release it in other way rather than digital.

  3. paul r (Reply) on Thursday 15 October, 2009 at 22:18

    James, what would you say Ratatouille had over Giacchino’s Medal of Honor and Star Trek scores?

  4. James Southall (Reply) on Friday 16 October, 2009 at 17:46

    I love Star Trek, but it’s just the charm of Ratatouille that gets me. It makes more of a personal connection to me than any other Giacchino score (even though I do like most of them).

  5. AntonioE1778 (Reply) on Sunday 18 October, 2009 at 21:10

    Your perspective is interesting, because after viewing this film I think it may be one of my favorite Pixar films (Finding Nemo still taking top spot in my opinion). I loved the score too. The ‘magic’ you say the score is missing, I think, is not so much overt and explicit, but more implicit and introverted. In spite of the score being loud much of the time, it strikes me as a very personal endeavor. What do you think?