DIRECTOR: dan scanlon (monsters university)
STARRING: tom holland, chris pratt, julia louis-dreyfus and octavia spencer
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Two elven brothers embark on a quest to bring their father back for one day.
Onward was one of the top films on my 'Must Watch List' for 2020. The mixture of fantasy, quality Pixar animation and the voice talents of Spidey and Starlord begged for it to be seen on the silver screen (multiple times), and for me to find all the Onward merch I could lay my hands on.
Unfortunately Onward began its cinematic debut as the coronavirus started to take hold and cinemas closed voluntarily, and then under governmental edict. This left Disney in the unenviable position of what to do with Onward, opting to release it to purchase on video on demand and now on Disney Plus. This is a real pity because Onward deserves to be seen on the silver screen being the masterpiece that it truly is.
Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on a 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.
Pixar are not only the masters of 3D animation but of storytelling and have been at the forefront of cinematic narratives for years. Onward is no different with a tale that is not only inventive, it changes thematic tact and has more than enough magic to tug at the heart strings.
The quest is heart pumping, adrenaline fuelled stuff that will have you on the edge of your seat with tones reminiscent of Indiana Jones and LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring. Attempting to completely bring their father back brings Ian and Barley closer together so much that Ian realises that even though his dad wasn’t around, he always had his older brother around to love and support him. I must admit; I definitely shed some tears.
There is also room for a lot of humour with some brilliant slapstick physical comedy (brought to you mostly through Ian and Barley’s headless father) and some laugh-till-you-cry one liners from Chris Pratt’s Barley.
Director Dan Scanlon did a wondrous job in the somewhat underrated Monsters University in building a believable fantastical world, and here he brings those skills to the world of Onward. Every small detail from mum Laurel’s workout videos to the fantastical underground crypt Ian and Barley find themselves in, this world feels lived and breathed in.
The animation is, as you’d expect, absolutely breathtaking in its detail without ever losing the effect of being an animated cartoon film. The voice acting is superb with Tom Holland and Chris Pratt’s personalities shining through these cartoon forms.
With a superb fantastical adventure that hits you right in the feels, Pixar delivers pure movie magic. Onward is a masterpiece.