There are few animation studios known for producing quality films on a consistent basis. With Pixar’s newest film “Onward”, it’s a rebound for Pixar after their last disappointing film “Toy Story 4.”
“Onward” follows a young elf named Ian (Tom Holland) who discovers that there is a spell to bring his dead father back to life but he has only 24 hours to do it. It is up to him and his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) to revive their father while facing challenges along the way.
An aspect about Pixar movies that has always stood out was their animation. It’s clean, it’s smooth and it often looks photorealistic. Characters such as dragons or magic may not exist, but Pixar makes all of those elements seem like they could fit into the real world without a problem.
The plot, however, is a different story. It felt predictable and generic throughout most of the movie, and while there were moments with unexpected twists, most of the movie could have been called something else and I wouldn’t have noticed the difference. Holland and Pratt try their best to work with the script and they do a serviceable job. The humor is decent and there wasn’t a bad joke, there just weren’t any amazing jokes either.
Compared to other films like “Up” or “Coco,” “Onward” lacks the spirit or originality that made those films special. Director Dan Scanlon lacks a unique voice that makes “Onward” a standout film. Scanlon also directed “Monsters University” which was a step down from “Monsters, Inc.” but at least he tried to make a film of his own. He was also a writer on “Onward” which explains why the film feels generic.
The biggest turnoff of “Onward” has to be the forced chemistry between Ian and Barley. Barley forces his way on Ian which felt disturbing. Any character that forces their way onto someone else is a sign that a film is relying on childish tropes to keep the plot moving. The film’s climax is a mixed bag. On one hand, it is great to see Ian overcoming his fears and becoming a hero. On the other hand, the writers give Barley a bigger role in Ian’s life than necessary. Barley causes most of the problems of the film and to see him being rewarded is troubling.
Besides Holland and Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Ian and Barley’s mom and Octavia Spencer as a manticore are solid. They are both humorous and provide really good voiceover work. They should have more roles voicing animated characters.
“Onward” may not be the best film in Pixar’s catalog, but it will please those who are looking for a fantasy animated film with a basic story and great animation. The voiceover work is what keeps this movie from blending in with every other generic animated film. Children and animation enthusiasts will most likely enjoy this film but for everyone else, just wait for a Disney+ or DVD release.
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.