Onward Movie Review: The New Frozen

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Ian unlocks the magic
Where is the Magic??

Onward is the latest from Pixar animation with the leading voice talents of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland.  The world crafted for Onward is a unique spin on classic mythology.  There are dragons and trolls and pixies and everything you can think of from the ancient sword and sandal mythological standpoint.  The difference here?  All these creatures grew away from magic.  It no longer exists in their world, or at least not until Holland’s character, Ian, receives a magic staff only he can wield.  If he successfully executes the spell provided by their long dead father, the father will return for one day.  Of course, not believing he can do it, he flubs the spell and they need to quest to find another of the rare gems needed.

Chris Pratt plays the older brother, Barley, who plays life fast and hard.  Leap first and ask questions later, yet despite this reckless of his, he possesses a feel for the old ways of magic.  He follows the old beliefs of magic even though he has no magical powers.  Together the two brothers set out on a quest, much to Barley’s delight.

Onward Movie Review:  Lacking in Core Areas

Overall, this was a fun movie, but in the end falls just a bit flatter than I would have liked.  When I first heard the talents of Pratt and Holland were cast as the leads, I thought the humor would overflow from every pore of this film.  Both actors have a natural talent for comedic timing and wit, but  I found most of Onward fell into the ‘that was kinda cute’ or ‘Ha. Ha. Next’ type humor.  Very little of the comedy stood out or made me laugh.

Another interesting hole that is not really a bad thing was the music.  No songs really stood out that kids will be singing in cars and bedrooms across the country, but then again there were almost no songs to be heard.  Onward took a very non-Pixar role of going without musical numbers every 5 minutes like in Frozen.

Onward Movie Review: Character and Visuals Hold Solid

C’mon.  This is Pixar.  Of course, the visuals will be amazing, but in this case the visuals stans out in the way they defined the magicless world of magical creatures.  The world building was breath-taking in some scenes, and the designs of the creatures came across as a nice, unique style.  The ending ‘curse’ that turns out to be a dragon made of rubble, I thought was very well used.  It gave a unique, comical feel, yet it held the menace needed for the final battle.

I really liked the way the characters were used and designed as well.  Ian and Barley are your typical brothers with totally opposite views on life, but the surrounding characters added a lot to the story.  The father died 16 years ago, so Ian never knew him.  Barley, though, had memories he held dearly, but I’ll come back to that. The mom and her new beau, the head centaurian sheriff, really could have been throw away characters, but each brought a little something to the story.  We even see remnants of the mother’s past when she summons her long forgotten warriors courage to save her boys.  The manticore, caught up in the wake of the boys’ quest, also finds a bit of her old self, realizing how much of her old spirit she lost.

Onward Movie Review: The New Frozen/Story Brilliance

If Pixar knows one thing, it is how to pull heart strings.  I felt bored and a little let down for most of the movie, but then you hit the ending. The ending snuck up on me similar to how Frozen surprised me with its ending.  Not until Ian begins to cross off all the things he wanted to do with his dad, fearing they had failed, that the true purpose of this movie comes across.  As Frozen was not a romance or bout the guy, Onward is not about the magic or the quest.  Where Frozen turned into a movie about sisters, Onward, at its core, is a simple story about brothers.  The way it executes the ending really pulls at the heart strings and gets emotional.

Onward Movie Review: About Damn Time!

Ian and Barley
A Band of Brothers

The fact Disney and Hollywood follow left-wing political beliefs is no secret.  Everything anymore seems to be about girl power.  They need to make strong female leads and show men are either evil or not needed.  Disney churns out princess movie after princess movie, but where are the movies for the boys?  At long last, Onward is that movie, and while the movie can be found lacking in areas, this is the movie boys deserve and have been waiting for.  In the end Onward is about brothers and the impacts they have on each other through out life.  I will not spoil the final scene with the father, but even that was handled magnificently.

There is also an underlying story about the return of magic to the world.  Many characters go on micro journeys to rediscover their pasts and parts of themselves they lost long ago.  With the brief screen time many of these characters are given, they get satisfactory and complete journeys.

Onward really does not stand out as an all-time great movie, but the story it tells is so rare and needed, it really ups the final score here.  In a lot of ways, this movie reminds me of Sixth Sense.  The movie goes on a bit lack luster until the ending, but once the ending is sprung on viewers the movie takes a 180 flip and becomes something else entirely.  Kids will love it, and it is worth seeing despite its flaws.

SCORE: 87

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