Movie Review: Onward (2020)

The most recent and 22nd offering from Disney Pixar studios, Onward is a 2020 computer animated fantasy movie directed by Dan Scanlon (Monster’s University), and is set in a world of high fantasy where magic has been forgotten in place of electricity and technology. On his 16th birthday, elves Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) discover that Ian has innate magical powers, and the two set off together to bring back their deceased father for one day, after being given a gift by their mother, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

+ the voice work was fine, but the boisterous Pratt clearly outshone the more subdued Holland. None of the bit parts particularly stood out, except for the non-expected John Ratzenberger cameo
+ the animation is fine, but all Pixar movies are – heck, all animated movies are these days. Some of the animations for magic spells are cool, but once again nothing you won’t see in any other animated movie or even video game
+ the plot is fine, comparable to any other young adult adventure movie. Some more adult themes are the core premise, but they are dealt with in a very child friendly way. Truthfully, I liked the opening scenes, and absolutely loved the ending, but the stuff in the middle was just there

The Lightfoots (from left): Barley (Chris Pratt), Ian (Tom Holland) and Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

– outside of a few flat-falling jokes about being a lazy centaur, there wasn’t really much ‘magic vs technology’ stuff, which was what I was hoping to see. The opening two minutes are perhaps the most interesting of the movie, and from the advertising I assumed that would be a major selling point of the movie

> to use a very crude and not entirely accurate comparison: this felt like ‘Frozen for boys’. A pair of siblings, one of which has magical powers, travel with a comedy sidekick on a quest relating to their deceased parent, but without the singing, ‘cute’ sidekick and love story, and instead a cool car and loud rock music

Should you see this film: I wanted to like this, but I just didn’t. There was nothing new, special, or unique on display here.


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