Taking place in a world where technology has replaced magic, Pixar’s latest fantasy adventure, Onward, sets audiences up with a wonderful premise from the off. The world is populated by mythical creatures such as centaurs, pixies and elves, where dragons are household pets and unicorns eat from rubbish bins. But since the advent of technology, the world has lost its magical roots, rendering it familiar with our own world – centaurs are now everyday policemen, fitting their large frames into police vehicles rather than gallop, and TGI Fridays-like restaurants stands in the place of mythical taverns.
Magic has been forgotten… but not by everyone. This is where shy Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) steps in. On his 16th birthday, Ian finds a magical staff his late father left him and his quest-loving brother Barley (Chris Pratt). The staff is said to bring back the dead for one day. However, seeing as no-one uses magic anymore, wielding the staff proves problematic, leaving Ian’s father as just a pair of legs and a waist. So, Ian and Barley go on a mighty quest to bring back the top half of their dad before their day is up. What ensues is 102 minutes of fun, road movie joy that delves into wide-ranging topics such as unfulfilled career goals, familial bonds and the overuse of technology.
Not that these themes feel crammed in. In fact, you’re having so many emotions as you go through those 102 minutes that time flies by quicker than a winged beast on its way to another bold adventure. Speaking of bold, the animation in Onward is a pure feast for the eyes – it’s colourful and engaging, the landscapes are spectacular and there are enough funny background moments to keep audiences interested. The world is one of the movie’s main draws, and we would have perhaps liked to have explored it a little more.
The characters are also likable. Pratt and Holland’s chemistry is as crackling as the magic surrounding the characters and props need to be given to the wonderful Octavia Spencer who voices the majestic Manticore with humour and heart.
It’s been 25 years since Pixar’s first movie, Toy Story, and though Onward doesn’t quite live up to Andy’s toys, we’re so glad it’s still here to deliver movies like this: enjoyable, emotional and downright entertaining, Onward is an epic fantasy for the family to enjoy.