The last Pixar movie that let me down was Incredibles 2. Not a bad movie…but still a letdown (for me). My faith in Pixar was not completely gone, and I know how much they value storytelling. They put careful detail into how the movie is going to go, and plan it out (take notes, Lucasfilm). Onward shows that they still value storytelling.
The two main leads, voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, are relatable in one sense, while still imaginative in the way an epic tale needs them to be. They are elves, brought up in modern-day society, a culture that has forgotten its roots in magic. The parallels to our modern day life was pretty well done. You could substitute magic with a few different elements (religion, spirituality, even humanity). To see how much we take for granted, and the “bigger picture” so many of us forget, the film lets you relate in your own way.
The film wasn’t perfect (first half was VERY rushed). There are a lot of unanswered questions, too. Still, when it gets going, it really takes off. Where the film needed to be simple, it was simple, and when it needed to be serious, the emotions were there. The visuals, again another Pixar strength, took you into their world.
If I remember correctly, when planning out a story, Pixar always has the character grow, and change for better by the end of the movie. That means there’s usually a lesson to be learned. In this film, the lesson isn’t totally clear until near the very end, and it may be one of Pixar’s most compelling and challenging yet. It is done very well. The characters, nearly all of them, even the background ones, change.
It’s refreshing to see the effort put in to the details. From the clever world they made, to the serious notes, and even the music, I think this one is worth seeing.