Onward (2020) Movie Review
Posted on May 13, 2020
By Luke R
Onward is an animated, fantasy, adventure film created by Pixar (creators of Toy Story, Wall-E and Cars, etc.). Onward is rated PG, features mild themes, and has a runtime of 107 mins.
The story follows Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt), 2 teenage elves living in a suburban fantasy world where magic has become obsolete. They set out on a quest to find out if there is still a little magic out in the world as a means to fix a failed spell that will allow them to bring their now torso-less father (Kyle Bornheimer), who died when they were to young to remember him, back for one more day. With only a day remaining, they must embark on a perilous journey to bring the rest of their father back.
Onward’s story is a wholesome, joyful and well written film, with a heavy focus on the bond between brothers that suffers from an unfocused/slow paced beginning. The first half is a slow paced, and at times boring, ride through a story lacking purpose and, what makes the film so distinct, its fantasy themes.
While Ian and Barley’s introductions are charming, and the way they interact with one another and their father are initially fun, they sadly never reach their full potential until the film’s latter half. Onward’s second half is exhilarating, heartwarming and highly enjoyable. The fantasy themes are used perfectly, and the interactions between the trio become filled with emotion and heart.
While lacking passion at its start, the latter half is Pixar at their best, with the heart and soul they poured into this film truly showing at its climax.
Onward’s animation is phenomenally smooth and filled with a copious amount of detail. Every area and every character are a joy to see in motion, brimming with an unprecedented amount of attention and personality, and are made even better by Onward’s mix of bumpy and somber tunes by Mychael Danna that help to create a better connection to Onward’s outstandingly crafted world.
Onward’s voice acting is mainly great, with actors like Chris Pratt and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who plays the brother’s mother, Laurel Lightfoot) giving it their all and truly bringing these characters to life. The only flaw in this department is Tom Holland’s performance. His lines feel expressionless and boring, with very minimal amounts of personality being put into Ian, which can really hold the character back at times.
This is an enormous difference when compared to Chris Pratt who has put an abundance of life into Barley, truly putting his all into his character. While mainly enjoyable, Onward’s voice acting is not without its flaws.
Onward is a heartwarming, gorgeously animated story about two brothers bonding over a wholesome yet perilous quest, that sadly lacks substance or passion in its’ beginning half. While the film’s mostly stellar cast are able to shine through is dull start, Onward truly finds its stride in the latter part of its exhilaratingly emotional journey.