Disney-Pixar’s Onward takes place in a world inhabited by mythic creatures. Magic was commonplace in the past, but has become obsolete with the advances of technology.
We meet introverted elf Ian (Tom Holland) on his birthday, with his gregarious older brother Barley (Chris Pratt), being raised by mom Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss).
Their father, Wilden, died of a severe illness shortly before Ian was born, and as a birthday present, Laurel gives Ian items from his father, including a magical staff, a rare Phoenix gem, and a letter describing a “visitation spell” that can resurrect their father for a single day.
Together, the brothers decide go on a magic quest in Barley’s van to reunite with their late dad.
When their mom realizes her sons are gone, she teams up with The Manticore (Octavia Spencer) to find them, only to discover the boys may have inadvertently woken up a dragon golem that wants to destroy the world.
Elves? Magic items? A mission? A final battle? Yes, Onward‘s story plays very much like a Dungeons & Dragons quest, and it was a lot of fun to watch.
A fantasy world allows for a range of unusual characters, and Pixar uses that to full effect, from the tough-but-cute motorcycle gang of pixies to the character of Colt Bronco, a centaur police officer and Laurel’s new boyfriend.
And of course Pixar’s lucky charm John Ratzenberger appears as the voice of a cyclops construction worker.
Onward is about the bonds of family, and appreciating who you have in your life. It’s funny and adventurous, with a lot of heart.
I’m giving Onward a 4 out of 5 stars.
Director: Dan Scanlon
Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Lena Waithe, Wilmer Valderrama, John Ratzenberger
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