by Staff Writer Varun Upadhyay
Pixar’s latest animated film, Onward, is a heartfelt, moving story with just the right number of adventurous exploits to keep it from becoming an emotional bore. Through a visually appealing, magical journey, Onward tugs at viewers’ heartstrings, providing a glimpse of what it could be like to have a little bit of magic in life.
The film revolves around two elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) Lightfoot, who are given a magic staff and the opportunity to cast a spell and spend one day with their late father. However, when the charm goes awry, the brothers must embark on a perilous quest to complete the spell, paving the way for satisfying moments of epic adventure, and ultimately leaving the audience with touching messages on the importance of brotherhood, family, and friendship.
The two elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland), and Barley (Chris Pratt)
With its poignant message on grief and healing, the majority of the story is emotional, yet surprisingly entertaining. Director Dan Scanlon does an excellent job of displaying how the brothers grow and learn to depend on one another after learning to cope with the grief that arises from the death of a loved one. Moreover, Onward’s well-developed storyline weaves in just the right amount of action, effectively keeping the emotional quest from becoming stale. From hair-raising freeway fairy chases to epic battles with dragons, the film takes the audience on an adrenaline-rush adventure that does not fail to delight. The story is also packed with enjoyable comedic scenes to lighten the emotional weight carried by the plot — the interactions between the Lightfoot brothers are most notable, with hilarious back-and-forths perfectly encapsulating the dynamic of a sibling relationship.
Onward’s expertly assembled plot is a product of the incredible graphics and animation typical of a Pixar film. It brings forth an intriguing fantasy realm, with the creative energy being most noticeable in visually appealing creatures such as the Manticore (Octavia Spencer) and the Stone Dragon. The attention to detail with the characters is extremely well defined, with even the simplest of features, such as singed wings or gnarly teeth, being meticulously developed to craft an enthralling look that is pleasant to see. The film’s ability to juxtapose physical appearances with unexpected personalities is another commendable and enjoyable feature. Seeing characters cower in fear from Pixie fairies — brash, fear-mongering bikers who can’t be more than a few inches tall — is highly amusing and adds to the liveliness of the film.
The Manticore (Octavia Spencer)
A large part of any animated film is the characters’ voice acting, which Holland and Pratt deliver on all fronts. These actors excel at portraying real-life camaraderie within their voices, giving the Lightfoot brothers a more entertaining, believable relationship. Pratt and Holland’s voice acting is also able to accomplish the difficult task of evoking life-like emotions from their respective characters, matching their expressions and making the film flow much more smoothly.
From start to finish, Onward is simply a delight to watch, a perfect combination of adventure, comedy, and emotional catharsis all rolled into one satisfying, magical journey. With a stellar plot, incredible graphics, and passionate voice acting, Onward is a worthwhile, gratifying experience that is beyond entertaining to see unfold.