Pixar broke the mold a long time ago when it came to animation, pushing the boundaries of the 3-D animation world and the storytelling that comes with it. World building, unique characters and fun filled stories etched themselves into our memories and continue to amuse us to this day. So after sequels have stormed the frontier of Pixar, a new original tale is hoping to come Onward and entertain us, most likely with a good story and character drive. As such, yours truly is back to help guide your journey to the movies. Let’s get started as we review:
Movie: Onward (2020)
- Great Animation
- The World Building
- Witty References
- Clever Writing
- Great Character Development
- Not In Your Face Lessons
- Heart Felt
- More Adventure Impasses Needed
- More On the Mom And Manticore Front
- A Bit More Of The Centaur character component
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar is fantastic at the animation and only keeps bringing their cards to play. The movement itself is fluid, dynamic, and colorful to meet the expectations that such pieces hold in Disney’s arsenal. Onward’s world truly does bring magic to the modern world, and the world building of modern overtaking the mysterious is brilliantly crafted to be fun and meaningful. Much of this world is fun, a huge spoof on fantasy elements that have ditched the mysterious, scary, and demented, for colorful forms that are mere shadows of their inspirations. This adventure may not be the most exciting, but Pixar still injects its energy into the film to make the movie entertaining in the kids way but also holding great potential for adults too. Comedy wise, Onward has some slapstick, components, but the comedy is geared towards the adults and older members that was highly entertaining to a geek like me. Witty references are loaded into the film, with many movie references present for older fans to enjoy at their new use into the world. Not a movie buff? Not a problem, because the writing continues to be clever as it brings dungeon and dragons board games into a new medium, all while poking fun at the modern flaws that are hot topics. Its this fantastic variety of venues to use that make this movie fun, as dialogue and comedic devices use these avenues to make the whole thing entertaining.
In regards to the storytelling, the movie shines in this department as well, you know what Disney can be really good at doing. The characters are fantastic additions to the Disney family, not only in merchandising, but fantastic players to latch onto the adventure with. The two brothers get some great moments to shine, each leveling up in their own way that again is clever, but very smart in how it fits with the themes of the film. Voice acting alongside great chemistry of the characters, leads to another fantastic relationship that will be used to drive a lot of the plot elements as well as the morals that go with it. Onward’s morals are multilayered, built to address so many problems that plague humans today that the film is sure to hit a relevant note. Even better, most of the lessons are not in your face preachy that seems to be the modern trend, allowing the story to gradually present it, keeping it in pace with the story and characters while also being deep at the same time. All in all, the heart felt emotions in this film of this developing brotherhood managed to pull many heart strings for me and was a fantastic adventure for geeky sensitive guy like me.
In terms of dislikes, the story does not escape the predictable formula that Pixar and Disney thrive in. A combination of trailer revelation alongside some scenes to be highly foreshadowing resulted in a pretty obvious twist that was to come. It’s a minor flaw mind you, but anytime you are able to reasonably trick me… you get bonus points for a review. No, the main thing I found the story needing improvement in… is ironically in the story components itself. The adventure side is certainly fun and geared towards the character development story, but the film could have used more of the danger that I know Pixar can do. Onward needed more integration of the fantasy obstacles to help with bringing more fun and opportunities to develop our adventurers, which may be reserved for a sequel if they decide to. Even more, I wanted better integration of the mom and manticore, two characters that had their moments to shine, but held so much potential to be involve in the story. Learning some more back story, getting the mom’s views on the whole mess, even the Manticore’s history outside of the small tale we got, would have been great to be integrated into the film. This can also be said for another character, the Centaur who after being used as the butt of jokes and potential build up, did not have the integration I thought they would. These underutilized characters and plot devices make the film a little weaker for me, but fortunately the fun and comedy amplify this spirit of adventure. Outside of this, there are a few other things that could be improved, but let’s wrap this up.
Disney has another winner on their hands with this film, as Onward sets out to be the same magic of fun, laughs, and family energy this studio is famous for. Adventures likes this, combined with the great animation, will open up a new avenue to getting to your heart, and this time geared for both cool people and geeks. Onward has much to offer for many people, and I love the fact the lessons are baked naturally into the theme of the movie, without being too preachy or political. Certainly the film needed to work on the predictability, but more so the film struggles to still not pull the full spirit of adventure that comes with Fantasy films. In addition, several other characters could have stand for more integration to round out the tales, add more levels of story, and of course just have more opportunity for grabbing more people into the movie. This reviewer though really found joyful to watch, and I’d recommend checking this out in the theaters if you have the time.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 8.0