Published On: Fri, Feb 21st, 2020

Pixar’s ‘Onward’ is a fun ride through a fantasy world to deal with real life trials

Pixar’s new film, Onward, combines several elements of the buddy film, a “coming of age” story and a fantasy/gaming picture. Like their other projects, Pixar masters the use of humor, beautiful CGI and enough references/gags for the parents to enjoy Onward with their families.

Onward centers around brothers Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) in a world full of elves (which they are), goblins, pixies, unicorns, mermaids and other fantastical creatures…but the magic is gone. Yes, imagine all of that in our world of skyscrapers and busy highways. Their boy’s mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) plays a key role as Ian turns sixteen and gives the pair a special gift from their late father: a gem, staff and instructions on bringing their father back to life for one day.

While Barley is obsessed with fantasy, magic and history, it’s Ian who is tasked with casting the spell and inheriting wizard skills. The spell doesn’t go well, with only half of dad manifesting and the boys must “go on a quest” to retrieve a gem to finish the spell before the day is complete.

Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) directed Onward, Pixar’s first original film (non-sequel) since Coco in 2017 and cements his ability to juggle multiple characters, subplots and still manage to hit the audience “in the feels.”

One of the biggest successes of the film is Barley reflected on his dad’s illness, those last days and the impact on his life. Scanlon really taps into a human experience much the way Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Quill was impacted by his mother’s death.

The “twist” and home run of the film is addressing an element key to the modern family, those marred with separation or, like in the film, death. The void of a lost parent is huge and impact is great…it was awesome to see this is a new way.

The biggest knock on the film is that, as I said, if several types of films all merged together. It never gets to bogged down with being a buddy film or immersing too deeply into the fantasy elements. Onward offers a lot for a diverse audience, but never smashes down a big home run.

So expect many critics to ding Onward BECAUSE it’s a Pixar film, not living up to mysterious high standard they impose. Onward is not their best, but it’s nowhere near the bottom of the list either.

Octavia Spencer voices a manticore (imagine the Egyptian sphinx) named Corey and Mel Rodriguez as the brothers’ stepdad, a centaur police officer — both are good for some laughs and additional depth to the journey.

Overall, Onward earns 7 stars out of 10 stars.

For those families who love Pixar films, particularly Zootopia, Onward is for you – add a star. If you are a fan of the fantasy or gaming genre, that add one as well because it creates an interesting representation of a magical world that rejected those elements for a human world.

For anyone expecting Pixar to top Toy Story 4, then you will be disappointed…hence, the mixed reviews from certain critics (I overheard a couple at my screening).

Hope you enjoy and if you see it, leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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