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Overall Rating
3

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average85.71%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 7.14%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings


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Onward
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by alejandroariera

"Wizard World"
3 stars

Twenty-five years ago next November, a digital animation upstart financially supported by one Steve Jobs raised the bar on what could be accomplished in animation with the release of their first full-length feature film, “Toy Story.” Following its critical and box-office success, Pixar kept raising the ante with such films as “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters, Inc.”, “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.” They found a friend in the Walt Disney Animation Studios from day one (although they did have several “disagreements”) until 2006 when Disney acquired Pixar. And even though Pixar enjoys enormous amounts of creative independence, they have also marched in lockstep with their overlords. Out of the eleven films they produced in the last decade, seven were sequels and four of those were for the “Toy Story” and “Cars” franchises. So, the high expectations from fans surrounding this year’s release of Pixar’s first two original films since 2017’s “Coco” is understandable. And while “Onward,” the first of these two releases, doesn’t reach the giddy highs or as has as many visually memorable moments as the above mentioned Pixar films, there is still plenty to enjoy. “Onward” is, in a way, the appetizer to the full fledge meal that “Soul,” their other original production, promises to deliver this summer.

“Onward” takes place in a world that was once ruled by magic and has now been overtaken by technology. It is still inhabited by elves, fairies, minotaurs and centaurs, but they now live rather mundane lives as cops, parents, students and business owners —all of them glued to their mobile devices—, while dragons are now cute, playful pets and unicorns roam garbage bins in search of food. The world building in these first initial minutes may lack the visual sophistication and wit of Disney’s “Zootopia” but it offers enough details and parallels to our world to ease us right into this story of parental absence and brotherly love

Purple-skinned elf brothers Barley and Ian Lightfoot (voiced respectively by the Marvel duo of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) have been raised by their mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) since their father died of cancer. Barley still has some memories of him (well, four actually) and Ian none since his father passed away shortly after he was born. Ian is introverted, socially insecure, afraid of taking risks; Barley is far more boisterous, a man child who refuses to take any responsibility and is a tad overprotective of his little brother to the point of embarrassing him in front of his classmates. Ian is celebrating his 16th birthday and to mark the occasion, Laurel brings down from the attic a magical staff her husband wanted their children to have, and with it a spell that will bring him back for a day. Turns out that it’s Ian who has the magic stuff and not Barley with all his knowledge about history and role-playing games. But the spell fails and Ian is only able to bring half of his father back…the lower half, that is. In order to bring the upper half back, Barley and Ian need a special kind of diamond and they only have 24 hours to find it before the spell fades. Father’s pants in tow, they embark on a quest that leads them to the Manticore’s lair (Octavia Spencer having the time of her life), now a Chuck-e-Cheese-style family restaurant from which they secure a map which contains a clue about the diamond’s location. There is, of course, a curse involved.

Directed by Dan Scanlon (“Monsters University”) and co-written with Jason Headley and Keith Bunin, “Onward” is the closest Pixar has come to creating an old-fashioned, somewhat harmless children’s film. The story is simply and conventionally told. There are no major villains. The quest is simply an excuse to throw these two brothers together and through their adventures have them come to terms with their differences and whatever issues may be bubbling under the surface (don’t worry, these issues are not of the biblical kind that leads one brother to off the other). You will not find either the clever-than-thou references to contemporary culture that are the trademark of Pixar rival Dreamworks’ fairy-tale set “Shrek” series. Nothing detracts from the story’s main themes about reconciliation and coming to terms with absence and grief. Are Scanlon, Headley and Bunin playing it safe? In a way, yes.

That is not to say that the film is lacking in moments that both parents and kids will enjoy. The car chase sequence involving a size change spell and biker fairies is quite fun as are all the G-Rated “Weekend at Bernie’s” shenanigans involving their father’s body. “Onward” benefits enormously from the chemistry and easy rapport between Pratt and Holland. Even as my critical brain was resisting the story’s conventional beats, their voice acting eased me back into the film. And while the adult me wished “Onward” had been a bit more subversive, the childish me embraced its journey. The ending may not have sucker punched me emotionally the way “Up”’s first 20 minutes and the final scenes of “Inside Out” still do. But I cannot deny its raw, primal power.

Pixar has raised the bar so high that even a minor and delightful work like the much maligned “The Good Dinosaur” is met with disappointment. “Onward” may lack the visual pizzazz of and poetry of its predecessors, but it certainly its heart in the right place.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=33001&reviewer=434
originally posted: 03/07/20 00:00:00
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User Comments

4/21/20 Amber I loved this movie. My boys favorite movie right now. Great story 5 stars
4/15/20 Bob Dog Yow - - this was terrible! Boring, sappy, a total waste of tome, Pixar fans, please avoid. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Mar-2020

UK
  N/A

Australia
  06-Mar-2020


Directed by
  Dan Scanlon

Written by
  Dan Scanlon

Cast
  Chris Pratt
  Tom Holland
  Julia Louis-Dreyfus
  Octavia Spencer



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