Onward – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Onward – Finding Magic: A Quest of Brotherhood    

The imagination is filled with amazing things.  From the position of colors in a painting to the depth of description in a romantic novel, diving into worlds can be a matter of how far can you go?  Pixar is an animated studio that has pushed these boundaries for many years.  With their next film, they manage to push it once again.  Mixing the ideas of fantasy and realism, Onward take us on a brotherly quest.  Even with some predictable elements and familiar tropes, Onward will take you on a journey of what it means to be truly inspired.  

Set in a world were suburbia meets fantasy, two elf brothers embark on quest of magical intent.  With time running out, can these two brothers complete the quest in a world where magic has become myth?  The lead characters are Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) Lightfoot.  They are your typical teenage archetypes that you find in any coming of age tale.  The filmmakers take these elements and place it in an outline where realism and fantasy become one in the same.  Having a setting of magical creatures being modernized, it propels an original journey with familiar tropes.  Once the epilogue provides a background of the world, you are introduced to Ian and Barley.  They are given a gift by their mother that was left by their deceased father.  The gift is a supposed magical item meant to bring him back for one day.  Circumstantial plot elements propel the two into a conflict of them vs. time that lead them on a quest to complete the spell.  Once Ian and Barley embark on this adventure, it propels a linear journey that molds the whimsical quest within realistic situations and scenarios.  The two brothers move through a typical ‘point A to B’ outline with a sense of predictability, where the folly and dramatic are reliant upon the colorful use of visuals.  Even with this simplistic directive, there is still a sense of believability that would otherwise seem farfetched.  With fantastical creatures ingrained with technology, it provides a sense of folklore within irony.  That irony bounces between Ian and Barley’s relationship as they encounter obvious adventure like settings in the masking of modernization.  This creates an experience where the ideas of brotherhood and individual growth become genuine for our main characters.

Once Ian and Barley get further on the quest, you start to understand the fragile sense of their own persons.  There is a realistic flaw within the familial type, one that provides emotional scenes within the visual prowess of the world.  The emotional touches (through conversation) push the journey beyond the quest like outline, seeing how raw conflict creates personal growth.  This allows for the coming-of-age stylings to rise within the fantastical, providing a scenario where the forgotten become a truthful reflection of self.  This is where idealization of the imagination shine, propelling that unique touch found in all Pixar films.  Once in the third act, the story moves into the typical ‘good vs. evil’ confrontation, but it is placed against the brotherhood and family themes.  This leads into a climax of realistic human moments, providing another instance of greatness for the characters.  Onward is a story filled with a lot of familiar setups, but takes you a journey of heart and truth.  If you’re a fan of Pixar, coming of age or fantasy stories, this is one for you.  A definite fun time at the theaters.  

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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