Friday, February 21, 2020

Pixar's onward might be their best film ever?

Pixar has added a new trick to its considerable list of talents: the missable blockbuster. A truly bad Pixar movie is still extremely rare, but a serviceable one that doesn’t necessarily feel like an event? They’re now a part of the studio’s repertoire, even if they feel odd every time. Onward is the latest and strangest of these: a Pixar movie that doesn’t quite look like a Pixar movie, even though it almost feels like one.

Image result for onward pixar

Perhaps part of the problem is that Onward is both incredibly strange and rather sweet, but it only half-commits to either feeling. In Onward, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) Lightfoot are elf brothers in a world that’s kind of like ours but inhabited by fantasy creatures like centaurs and unicorns. There used to be magic in this world, the prologue explains, but technology came along, and that was much easier. So people abandoned magic, and magic went away.
The plot begins in earnest on Ian’s 16th birthday, which is when his late father arranged for him and his older brother to get a gift he left behind for them: a wizard staff and a spell that would let him return to the land of the living for one day to see how much they’ve grown. The spell, however, goes awry and only brings half of their father back — the lower half. Now, the brothers have 24 hours to find a gem they need to complete the spell and spend a little time with their father, bringing his disembodied legs around with them.
That’s not a bad impulse; while the Lightfoot brothers aren’t the most compelling leads, they’ve got an interesting dynamic. Barley is a bit of a burnout who loves power metal and tabletop roleplaying games. (In Onward, it’s up for debate whether fantasy RPGs are fact or fiction.) Ian, meanwhile, is mostly defined by being nervous, wanting friends, and embarrassment over his older brother. Barley knows all about magic, yet he can’t use the staff their father left them. Ian, on the other hand, has the gift but doesn’t know the first thing about casting spells.
As they go on their quest together, Ian and Barley learn to trust and respect each other, while each comes to understand the ways the other has learned to cope with their father’s death. It’s a tale that’s a bit more emotionally complex than a lot of movies made by Pixar and its imitators

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