“Onward” sets tone for new generation of Pixar Movies
Jordan Gablaski, Staff Writer
Hey! Finally! A Disney/Pixar movie that is not some sort of remake or sequel! Not that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of “Toy Story 4,” but it is about time we got some fresh stories on the scene. Plus, with a duo like Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, a.k.a. Starlord and Spider-man, what could go wrong?
Following our lead characters, two elf brothers named Barley and Ian Lightfoot, are a lineup of other famous voices like Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Mom, Laurel Lightfoot and Octavia Spencer as The Manticore. In a world full of magical creatures like elves, pixies, centaurs and cyclops, technology has evolved to the point where magic is no longer practiced, and has all but faded from use. Barley and Ian live with their mother in a mushroom shaped house in a suburban neighborhood where stray unicorns hiss over trash cans like oversized cats. Barley is a macho looking, magic history buff who protests when the existence of old magical landmarks is in danger. Ian is an awkward high school math nerd who struggles to be social and wishes he could be as confident as the dad he never got to meet.
On Ian’s 16th birthday, his mom gives him a gift from his father, who died of an illness when Ian was just a baby. The gift, for both of the brothers, is a genuine wizard’s staff, and a visitation spell for the brothers to bring back their dad for one whole day so Ian can finally meet him. But, it would not be a movie if something did not go wrong, and the spell backfires halfway through, leaving the brothers with just the bottom half of their father and a quest to find a new phoenix stone to fuel the rest of the spell within 24 hours.
Overall, this was a really cute movie. It had all of the typical Pixar charm, moments of humor, and those deep, emotional moments that inevitably bring a tear to your eye. Through the
quest, the story becomes more about the brotherly bond as Barley teaches Ian how to use magic, and they travel to find the phoenix stone and bring their father back. It is a good mixture of fun and exciting, as well as those touching moments that show just how affected these brothers are by their father’s death, even as young adults.
It was a well-rounded set of characters, especially the mom, who teams up with the Manticore to find her boys, and does her fair share of ass-kicking by the end of the movie. The plot was pretty straightforward in the sense that the boys travel for most of the movie, run into some obstacles and somehow spark the return of magic in other creatures along the way. But the relationship between the brothers is what truly drives the film toward its climax: a bittersweet ending for sure, but one which allows the characters, Ian especially, to live their lives for the future. The animation and character connections were enough to make up for where the plot was lacking.
It is not my favorite Pixar movie, but it was good fun, and it showcased the special type of family relationship that Pixar excels at. I’m just glad that the studio seems to be turning the corner. Much like Ian and Barley learn to cope with their loss and keep moving forward, Pixar seems to be foreshadowing that they will be moving on from sequels of all of their classic films. All the Pixar films I grew up with have drawn to a close, and “Onward” sets the tone for a new decade of stories.
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Jordan is an English Major for the Class of 2020.