Film Review: Onward

Onward is an adequate addition to the Pixar collection…

I have always been a sucker for a good fantasy film, and here I am finally with the opportunity to share my thoughts on one I expected better from.

Starting off in the fictional town of New Mushroomton – the amount of times I cringe hearing the name is unbearable – we witness the journeys of high-school student Ian and his older brother, Barley Lightfoot. They are on a journey to find an artifact that will bring back their dead father. Besides The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I have not seen a Disney film with a rather morbid twist. But this does not even compare.

It is quite a let-down given how much I remember Chris Pratt and Tom Holland tried to promote the film during talk-shows, and how I excited I was when I first saw the trailer for the film. But given the material, their voices are well-suited, particularly Tom Holland’s as I could only imagine his child-like voice being able to fit into that of a high school student. The only problem I have with the casting is how Lena Waithe will now probably be stereotyped into playing a homosexual character in whatever she acts in next. Despite even being Disney’s first openly LGBTQ+ animated character, this has already led to bans in several countries.

We are not even sure where Onward tries to go or what it tries to be. Its animation is nothing special even if its characters are, the plot is not outstanding or particularly enchanting as I would expect a fantasy film to be and the film itself is almost nothing in comparison to Pixar’s work.

Perhaps this is due to the fact it is inspired by director Dan Scanlon’s father’s death. He actually wrote the story after listening to an audio clip of his father. But eventually, Keith Bunin and Jason Headley were hired to re-write, which only makes the script make sense, but not at all entertaining. Perhaps it should fall under autobiographical animation, if that is – or ever becomes – a thing.

To paraphrase what main character Ian says towards the end, Onward is everything it aspires to be: adventurous, exciting and best of it was magical. Unfortunately, this is may only be to its target audience.

By Zach Omitowoju

Feature image credit: Forbes

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