2020. PG. 102 mins. Dan Scanlon
Pixar is considered to be arguably the best animation studio in the film industry. So anytime they have a new movie coming out it is typically a big deal. With 21 total movies made since the original Toy Story came out back in 1995 Pixar has gone on to have only two misfires in my book, Cars 2 and The Good Dinosaur. Onward marks the 22nd movie in their lineup and hopes to continue their impressive streak of some of the best animated movies to be made. Does it achieve this or does Pixar play it a little too safe with Onward?
Onward tells the story of a world that used to rely heavily on the use of magic but over time ignored using magic and decided to tend to things on their own. Two elven brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt), get the chance to experience some of the old magic of their world when Ian is gifted a special crystal on his sixteenth birthday. The crystal was given to him but their late father and it holds the power to bring back someone from the dead for a 24 hour period. They run into a problem with the crystal and end up having to embark on a magical journey to find a new crystal for them to be able to bring back their father for a day.
The story in Onward is one that feels just a little too familiar. Pixar has a way with their storytelling that certainly hit a lot of the same tropes in just about every single one of their movies. Onward definitely hits a lot of these tropes and while there is nothing particularly bad about the movie it never really does enough to separate itself and stand on it's own. It is too predictable, as a lot of animated movies are, but the filmmakers really don't even try to do anything new and that unfortunately is a big fault here.
With all of it's familiar tropes the movies still does offer plenty to enjoy. The voice cast here does a solid job with their characters. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt make a great pairing together, despite the characters themselves just being typical brother stereotypes. Julia Louis Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer provide some good work as well and Mel Rodriguez as the boy's stepdad steals just about all of his scenes. Story-wise everything is paced very well and the movie never really lags. Pixar is known for their great animation and here it's no different as the movie is gorgeous from start to finish.
While Onward does offer some things to enjoy it just never really does enough to make much of an impact. Everything is perfectly fine here and even has plenty of emotional punch, as most Pixar movies do. This falls into the lower tier of Pixar movies and will sadly be one that had a lot of potential and unfortunately never executed it properly.