Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Review: Onward

Release date: March 6, 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Starring: Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer

Pixar is known to have a magic touch as almost every movie they make becomes an instant classic.  However, do they have the same touch when the movie deals with real magic?  Onward is a new animated adventure from Pixar set in a fantasy world where magic has been replaced with technology.  It still has all the fantasy beasts and lore, but spells and adventuring have given way to modern conveniences.  However, when young Ian Lightfoot (Holland) turns 16, he receives a package that will change his and his brother Barley (Pratt)'s lives!

As with all Pixar films, the animation in Onward is top notch.  The movie has a great style that blends the modern world with fantasy elements.  It has just enough references to fantasy movies and games to stand out, but still manages to put  them in a modern setting.  And on top of the style, the animation is as gorgeous as ever.  Hair effects, lights, fog, and fire; all are beautifully done and really make the world come alive.  And as you would expect from top notch voice talent, the characters are perfectly voiced.  Pratt and Holland have a natural rapport and do well as on screen brothers.  Pratt is perfect as the gregarious Barley and Holland is likewise fitting for the uncertain younger brother.  That is not to say that the rest of the voice talent are lacking; all the characters are expertly done and really contribute to the immersion you feel in this magical adventure.    

And on top of all of that, there is a ton of humor in this movie.  The writing is sharp and witty, there are subtle references to fantasy, adventures, and modern life, and even unspoken jokes can be laugh-out-loud funny.  For a movie about a fantasy setting, the adventure itself is wonderful.  How Pixar puts the D&D tropes into a modern setting is a joy to see.  There are adventuring clues and riddles, traps, long treks, and heartbreaking setbacks.  The film is clearly inspired by D&D, Lord of the Rings, and many other fantasy worlds, and blends them together into a cohesive story about a fantasy environment that has moved on from magic.  And the adventure itself introduces some magic back into the worlds, and does so with plenty of humor and heart.    

Pixar's Onward will cast a charm spell on you with it's wonderful cast, beautiful animation, and story that has all of the heart and magic that we have come to expect from this studio.

Watch It

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