Onward (Animation, Adventure) (2020)
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writer: Dan Scanlon, Keith Bunin, Jason Headley
Stars: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer
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Onward is set in a world once filled with magic; this world is inhabited by many different kinds of fantasy species like Elves, Pixies, Centaurs and an abundance of others. Time, however, has progressed as it does. What used to be normal is now a distant memory. But, not to everyone: such as Barley (Chris Pratt) a teenager living with his mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and younger brother Ian (Tom Holland) he still dreams of how the world once was and wishes he could’ve have experienced that’s also the reason he plays a Role-Playing Boardgame based on the old world of magic and adventure. When Ian turns sixteen things change as their mother brings out a gift left by their father who passed away when the children were very young, the present is a magic staff and a scroll listing a magic spell that can bring back their father but only for 24 hours.
The adventure that follows would seemingly be straight-forward; but if I’d have to describe it in any way, it would be anything but that. Most obvious is the simple yet polished looking CGI and along with that comes a host of exciting characters and a surprising amount of detail as the plot thickens.
I have to admit; when I saw some early marketing, there wasn’t much interest from me to watch it, one of the most noteworthy things I remember is the character Barley, who I thought would be a supporting character due to his look and the fact that he’s portrayed as some Metalhead/Geek. In the final film, it turns out he’s anything but. Barley and Ian make the film carrying the viewer through more emotions than most could fathom from an animated movie.
Something that stood out was the voice-acting but not in the manner you might think, as I was watching Onward, knowing full-well what actors voice acted on it I didn’t really notice the familiar voices, which could be seen as a bad thing but thinking about it I think it’s one of the best things to have in an animated movie, being fully immersed in the film these voices belonged to the characters from the start to finish of the movie.
Even with the focus on the brothers Lightfoot, there is plenty of attention given to most characters, specifically Octavia Spencer’s character is just a delight. Turning from an overworked and uninspired children’s restaurant owner into a once forgotten hero back to show the world a touch of bravery and might (While stuck in a teensy car most of the film) Octavia is undoubtedly a standout but in no way do the other characters feel neglected.
An animation movie like this can easily be put into the most obvious category of kids movies; while I’d have to agree with the initial statement, Onward shines as it’s way more. While there are certainly other examples of children’s movies taking a darker and emotional subject, just look at ‘’The Lion King’’ or even the classic fairytales but Onward puts a lot of emotionality into its premise, and it can be felt, emotion would be the one word I’d use to describe it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Onward is the best-animated film we’ll see released in 2020, because this is nothing less than a masterclass.
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Onward to more animation movies like this or even a sequel.