Onward (2020)

Again, Pixar comes up with a rather fresh concept, fantasy creatures in a modern times world, with some strong emotional moments. It was an excellent idea to make the film about the two brothers Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) going on a quest to briefly reunite with the the late father they never knew or barely remember. It is a very heartfelt tale: wanting to connect with a relative you never knew. The connection between the two brothers (one’s the shy guy who isn’t into magic but can do it and the other is the outgoing, immature one who is into magic but can’t do it) is handled really well. The ending may be up there with some of Pixar’s great moments.

The movie has a fine cast of characters and voice actors. Chris Pratt is the VIP here. Yeah, he is doing a variation of the typical Pratt kind of character, but he is good enough that Barley is distinguishable from his other characters. He especially does a well with Barley’s more sympathetic moments.

I was a little at odds at whether I should rate this a little higher. Ultimately I realized that while this is up there with some of Pixar’s better films this wasn’t in their top tier. Onward is mostly a road trip movie and it had the issues that I felt were in Up or some of Pixar’s other road trip movies in that the creators have some great core ideas but feel like they were throwing in whatever they could to fill out the movie. This could’ve been shorter and the third act in particular feels like the film is stretching. There are also moments where Ian, when he’s being shy or angry, is too underwritten or stereotypically portrayed.

I’m not the biggest fan of the character design in this. It feels a little simple compared to other Pixar films almost as if this was designed by a different studio. I know that a lot of animators prefer more simple designs because it makes animating or character expression easier. Personally as a viewer, I prefer when a character looks better defined. I especially don’t like the way they made the elves’ tragus in their ears. (The part of the outer ear that sort of covers the earhole). They look like quarters.

Criticisms aside when this movie is good it’s really good, and I highly recommend it.

Review by jwwalrath-227-85487

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