By Elisabeth Lively
When we hear about dragons, fairies and magic, what do we picture? Let’s be honest – we picture medieval Europe. But that was hundreds of years ago. What has come of these creatures and their lives since? That’s the question that Pixar explores in their newest film, Onward.
With the COVID-19 pandemic rising, viewers had only caught a brief glance of the movie on the big screen before Disney decided to do their part in promoting social distancing by sending the movie straight to Disney Plus.
As explained in the film’s introduction, magic was much harder to master than, well, a lightswitch. With easy-to-use technology on the rise, all from washing machines to smart phones, magic became scarce and the world became unextraordinary.
Taking place in the modern, not-so-magical city of New Mushroomton, elvan brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) are given their late father’s secret wizarding staff. It doesn’t take long before the boys are trying out a spell to bring their father back to life for 24 hours. To their dismay, the spell goes awry, leaving their father as no more than a pair of legs, with his only communication being a sense of touch. To conjure their father’s full appearance before he disappears forever, the brothers must go on a “quest,” as Barley likes to call it, to find the magical and powerful phoenix stone.
The idea of a quest is a bit cheesy, but it was adorable nonetheless. Filled with clever plot twists and circumstances, I must admit that I found Onward to be surprising at times. However, not all of those surprises were good.
On multiple occasions, I found myself having a mini heart attack when the writers got a little too gutsy and had the characters on the verge of cussing. They were really pushing the limit. Come on, Pixar!
Like many movies, there were a few moments that I was easily able to predict. I wouldn’t say that this film was extraordinary in plot, but it was definitely remarkable in other terms. The idea of mythical creatures that have evolved from a life of magic, curses and brutal combat into a world of technology, lawsuits and yoga classes is brilliant! I can’t believe this idea didn’t come up sooner! A centaur driving a car, a manticore that runs a family-friendly and themed restaurant, rabid unicorns that pillage garbage cans and tiny biker fairies are all well-thought original characters that I must applaud!
As The New York Times author Ben Kenigsberg wrote, “What is missing are the unexpected flights of fancy on which Pixar forged its reputation.” The author goes on to explain that these famed Pixar moments include the beautiful and shockingly realistic introduction to Up and the fire extinguisher dance in Wall-E.
I pondered on Kenisgsberg’s statement, asking myself if it was true. What beautiful and unexpected moments did this film have to offer? There’s no one, big iconic scene in Onward, though there were a few small ones. Overall, I’d have to say that the movie itself is that memorable and iconic moment.
Well done, Pixar.