Omair Alavi|Published April 18, 2020
Onward is one of those animated films that start slow, gain pace and conclude with a fantastic climax. Like Zootopia, it takes place in a world that has more in common with humans than we can imagine; like The Lion King, there is a relationship between a father and a son that dominates the plot. Thankfully, Onward manages to carve a separate niche for itself and that has more to do with the talented duo of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, who add their own touch while doing voice overs for the two lead characters.
Directed by Dan Scanlon, this Pixar animated revolves around two elves, the under-confident Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and the hopeless elder brother Barley (Chris Pratt) and their one-off chance to meet their deceased father. Due to the magical gift he receives on his 16th birthday, Ian is able to resuscitate his late parent for a day, but before the spell could be complete, one part of the present disintegrates, resulting in half a father, from the waist below.
The rest of the film is about the two brothers’ journey in search of that missing element so that they can complete the spell and be with their dad, one last time. Add an explorer who has lost her will for adventure (Octavia Spencer), a mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who is worried that her sons might find themselves in trouble, her new boyfriend (Mel Rodriguez) who is also a cop, a few pixies that form a bikers gang, and a dragon that is also interested in the same thing as the boys and you get a 100-minute of a high-octane ride like never before.
Both Tom Holland and Chris Pratt share an excellent chemistry that they have carried over from their films as Spider-Man and Star-Lord in the Marvel Universe. Chris Pratt’s Barley is the one character that stands out in the movie, because he believes that games like ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ are based on real events, and that’s what he preaches. No wonder everyone thinks of him as a screw-up, a fact that nearly derails them from their mission!
That doesn’t mean that the younger brother doesn’t have much to do — after all, it’s his birthday that they were about to celebrate before discovering that magic exists.
What makes Onward closer to one’s heart is the way it preaches love for parents, be it father or mother. Being with either of them can be a life-altering experience and this film covers that aspect of life. The visuals are well done, especially the scenes on the motorway, where pixies are shown riding bikes, and a driver without experience, leading the way.
Onward might not be the best Pixar animated flick, but its heart is in the right place, resulting in an emotional outburst towards the climax, that brings smiles to everyone’s face.
Published in Dawn, Young World, April 18th, 2020