Onward: Movie Review


Photo courtesy of Disney official website.

Nick Porrello, Staff Writer

       Even during these troubling times of social distancing and isolation, we can count on movie distributors to give us the movie theater experiences right to our living room. One of the movies that was brought to digital and home video was Onward, the new film from Pixar. 

       It was a pretty big surprise to see a new Pixar film released around this time, not necessarily because of the home video release, but how there was so little promotion for this movie. Disney is a company who makes sure everyone will see their film, but it does not show both in its advertisements or box office gross. Disney has attributed the film’s financial shortcomings to the COVID-19 pandemic.

       Even more surprising is the audience reaction to the film. Critics and audiences generally love Pixar, however, Onward did not perform as well as other Pixar films. For comparison, the recent Toy Story 4 received an 84 on Metacritic, however Onward only received a 61. Nevertheless, as someone who isn’t crazy about Pixar films, I went in with little expectations and received a fairly average adventure movie. 

       Onward is about two brothers, played by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, who cast a spell that can bring their father back to life, but only for one day. However, they do not complete the entire spell, and the dad is brought to life as only a pair of legs. The duo must complete a quest in finding a crystal that will bring the rest of their father back. 

       Once again, Pixar nails the animation. Every landscape shot looks similar to real life and, for the most part, the character designs are all varied and different. Not once in the film do I think that they ever make a poor decision in this aspect. However, this was the only part of the film where I believe that the filmmakers went above and beyond. 

       The best word to describe Onward is standard. It’s a competent film, however there were very little instances where a decision was made that kept the film engaging. The voice acting is a good example of this. Holland and Pratt do a fine enough job, but they do not have moments to really shine in their performances. Even with their performances, it was difficult to be invested in their turmoil or their relationship with each other. 

       This film is more of a comedy in comparison to other Pixar films, however most of the comedic moments fell flat. There are these characters called the “biker pixies”, and they were incredibly annoying, as well as the Manticore, played by Octavia Spencer. The problem is that these characters are major parts of the story and the conflict, and every time they’re on screen I’m reaching to the remote to skip to the next scene. 

       There are a lot of people happy about a character in the film who is a part of the LGBT community, however others are not as happy about it. It is not necessarily a problem that there is an LGBT character in the film, but it is only mentioned in one line of dialogue that can easily be edited out for Chinese audiences. However, fans have noticed this and Disney has received some backlash.

       Overall, Pixar fans will really like Onward, even if it is pretty formulaic, but chances are it will not live up to the best of Pixar. It is available on streaming on Disney+ and other On Demand services.