Thursday, March 5, 2020

Onward - Review

Pixar has been in an interesting place since about 2011, when the studio released the dreadful Cars 2. Since then, the animation giant has relied on sequels and some half-back original ideas in between their genuinely great films, like Inside Out or Coco. And even still, the prospects of an original film from Pixar is exciting, and thankfully, Onward does much better than other attempts from the last decade.

Two teenage elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), go on an journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.

The conversation around Pixar has made an interesting turn over the last few years. It seems, at least on the surface, that the association with Disney and a solid position as the leader in animation, has caused people to turn on Pixar to some degree. However, if the studio turns back to original ideas and charming endeavors like Onward, it’ll go a long way to earning that respect back.

A modern day world with magic has a ton of potential, and while Onward does a good job of exploring said world and the mixture of reality and fiction, its true successes lie in its heart and humor. This should come as no surprise, Pixar has made its name on its ability to pull on your heartstrings, and Onward is no different.

The animation itself is gorgeous, even if some of the character design choices are suspect. It’s a well-constructed fantasy world filled with interesting characters that are worth following. Tom Holland gets to be Peter Park in animated form, but he can pull that off, and he does it here as well. Chris Pratt is type-cast too, but he is able to play with a lot of emotional moments, more than you’d expect based on the marketing.

Onward had a huge mountain to climb ahead of it, mainly due to some lackluster marketing, however, it seems to have cleared those obstacles with relative ease by relying on the pillars of Pixar. It certainly won’t crack the best of the best from the studio, but it’s a solid, original film, and these days, those aren’t always easy to come by.

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