PLEASE NOTE: THE LAST PARAGRAPH WILL BE DISCUSSING THE ENDING, SO THERE WILL BE SPOILERS THERE!
Pixar’s most recent animated feature ‘Onward’ was released in UK cinemas at a strange time. Me and my family were about to go into shielding due to two of us being in high risk groups for COVID-19, which meant that I never got a chance to see this Pixar film in cinema. However, after hearing that the film went to Disney+ in the USA in March, it was only a matter of time before it came here too.
‘Onward’ imagines a world in which mythical creatures lived on Earth and evolved technologically, much like humans. After young elf Ian receives a wizard staff and a resurrection spell from his late Father, he attempts to use this to bring him back for one day. However, it goes wrong leading to him and his older brother, Barley, to go on a quest to retrieve another phoenix gem to bring their father back to life fully for one day.
While it has flaws, this is easily one of my favourite Pixar films. The concept is an aspect that I immediately like; while I wasn’t a huge fan of the Netflix film ‘Bright’, I loved the concept for that too, and I couldn’t help but think of that film whilst watching this. However, the execution of this idea is done better. The lead characters Ian and Barley, (voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland – Guardians of the Galaxy, Spiderman Homecoming/Far From Home) are likable and interesting. They both have their own reasons for wanting to reunite with their Father: Ian has never known him, while Barley feels guilty for not spending enough time with him. They’re also opposites: Barley’s confident but always gets into trouble, while Ian is a shy and unconfident teenager, who’s scared of his own shadow. Yet, the dynamic between them works extremely well. While Barley may get himself into trouble, he loves his little brother and will always look out for him. As the older sibling, I related the most to Barley, and some of his memories resonated with me personally, which was unexpected. Their dialogue also worked perfectly; it helped that Chris Pratt and Tom Holland have previously collaborated in the past. They’ve had time to get to know each other, so the dialogue comes off as natural. The lesson I took away from this is to never compare yourself to other people, because you will never find out who you really are. Ian wants to be like his Dad but, in doing so, he’s not finding out what he’s really capable of until he goes on the road trip with Barley. It’s a wonderful and important lesson and one that I was taught at a young age.
‘Onward’ isn’t all sentimental and emotional however; it has its comedic moments too, which mainly come from the world that has been adapted to modern times, and the Father, whom is only a pair of jeans and shoes due to the spell not finishing. This particular character is an example of great comedic timing without the use of dialogue. Throughout the film, the Father does not utter a single word, but he brings comic relief to the film via his movements. It’s simple yet fantastic. However, my favourite scene would have to be in The Manticore Tavern, which was once a bar belonging to a fearsome Manticore monster (comprised of a Lion, Dragon and Scorpion), and has now become a Chuck. E. Cheese-style restaurant. The Manticore is also hilarious and brings into question whether some of the creatures are happy with the direction the world has gotten to.
However, I do have a couple of issues with the film, mainly with the ending. If you have not seen ‘Onward’, then I would recommend it. The animation is not Pixar’s best; it’s very reminiscent of ‘The Good Dinosaur’. The animation looks nice, but it’s not ground-breaking. However, the lead characters and concept are what makes this film enjoyable.
These last two paragraphs will be discussing the ending and other aspects that I would deem as spoilers for ‘Onward’.
The first point is more of an annoyance than an actual complaint. The film begins with a narration, presumably told by the Father, however this narration is unnecessary, due to the fact that this speech is repeated 10-15 minutes later by Ian. The speech is revealed to be a letter written by their Father, which contains the Wizard staff and resurrection spell. But this is more of an annoyance than a complaint, like previously mentioned.
The main aspect that I was unsure about was the ending. It is told that, if you retrieve another gem to finish the resurrection spell, a curse is unleashed that can only be destroyed by a specific sword. Barley unleashes the curse, and Ian eventually defeats the curse. However, Barley chooses to stay behind and finish the spell, while Ian chooses to defeat the curse, which is a distance away. This leads to Ian not meeting his Father because he gets stuck under the rubble that the curse was made from. I was unsure of this because Ian should’ve stayed to finish the spell, as he was the one who had never met his Father before, and Barley had had the chance to spend time with him. However, at the same time, Barley felt guilty because he backed out of saying goodbye to him at the hospital due to fear. Like previously mentioned, both brothers had good reasons for wanting to see him again, however, I think Ian should not have told Barley to stay behind; Ian should’ve stayed behind instead to finally his parent for the first time.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.