Pixar is the earliest memory of movies that I have. I remember being in the theater for Toy Story 1. Since then, Pixar has paved an incredible history of movies with only a few missteps, and even then you’re always guaranteed a visual spectacle. Onward pushes forward that torch of marvelous films for good reason.
I’ll admit, I was not fully impressed by the initial trailer for Onward. It didn’t have any oomph to it. It wasn’t until more time had passed and when I looked more into it that it started to catch my eye. The visual design and world building that Pixar does in here is top notch. At no point is there not something to grasp on screen. It felt very BoJack Horseman in that I feel like I need to rewatch it to catch some of the creatures or minute details that a scene might’ve had. I’m eager for the release so I can see what I’ve missed and pause at my leisure.
Think fairy tales mixed with teenage/family hardships and you have Onward. That might be selling it short, but that’s not my intention. That simple line was crafted so beautifully in the film. We follow Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Tom Holland and Christ Pratt, respectively), two young elves who set out on a journey after they find a way to bring back their late father for one day. There are so many fun and quirky scenes along with the typical Pixar emotional swerves that leads to a film being as impactful as your Toy Stories or Cocos. I try to focus on being a more “journey is more important than the destination” sort of person, but I do love a good poignant gut punch at the end; because of this I can now put Onward on the list with Coco and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood as the only movies to have made me cry.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
You ever just see yourself so much in a character that you wish the writers would stop stalking you for ideas? No? Just me? Well that’s how I felt at times here. Both Ian and Barley were so incredibly complex but relatable. There’s a moment in the movie (no spoilers) where one character shares something he did in the past. It comes out of left field but you understand his entire mantra so much more at that point. The effort both Holland and Pratt put into their elven counterparts is awesome, from the little conversations to the bellows put in their voice when they try to cast spells. Everything about the characters is so real and so meaningful that I couldn’t help but be fully invested by the time the bigger plot points began to take place.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score was about as straightforward as you can imagine. A score with flairs of fantasy and epic feelings. You got all the magic vibes in every instance that something in that realm was happening, but on the flip side all of the mundane things were blended in so perfectly. The traffic in a movie with elves and legends can get jarring, but it’s all done to a high quality.
I already said it, but Pixar is close to perfection when it comes to visual design. Each of their movies have a distinct style; even if you may not like the movie, that’s an undeniable fact. Onward follows this route. One of my favorite things from Pixar is seeing how each movie sort of builds on one another, so you see strains of Monsters Inc. in here when you see the character design with their hair as strandy as it is. Particle effects that seem to step from how action-filled Incredibles 2 was. Every movie is just a training ground for the next movie, but that training ground is better than what so many other studios attempt.
"A Journey Worth Everything."
Genre: Adventure. Animation. Comedy.
So, Onward, the biggest conundrum I have is wondering where it’ll go on my own personal Pixar tier list. I loved the moments of personal progress and faults. Everyone felt real in this bizarre world of myth. The reason behind the story was essential for the boys to go on and the moments they shared will stick with me for a long time. I wouldn’t call Onward my favorite Pixar movie, but I’d call it a damn good adventure for the characters and for myself. Please, Pixar, stop making me cry.