Onward: Film Review


Marvel stars Chris Pratt and Tom Holland reunite to lead the voice cast in Disney/Pixar’s latest animation Onward, a sweet little adventure that tugs on the heartstrings.

This fantasy film follows young elf Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Holland), an awkward high school student who never got to meet his father. On his 16th birthday, he receives a prearranged gift from his dad, a magical staff which can bring him back to life for one day – but during the spell, a magical gem breaks, leaving him with only his father’s legs. Ian and his older brother Barley (Pratt) embark on an adventure to find another gem so they can complete the spell and bring the rest of their dad back before the time runs out.

I never saw any trailers for Onward or read up on its plot so I was slightly taken aback by the bonkers concept. Going on an adventure with your dad’s legs?! Okaaaaayy. It’s a very weird idea and it takes a while to accept it but it somehow works. The adventure portion of the story is enjoyable enough but the ending really sells it. It touched my heart and made me shed a few tears and somehow that made everything that came before it so much better. It had more meaning and emotional impact. How they twist the ending to make it so poignant and powerful is very subtle and smart. The children might not appreciate it, but the adults certainly will.

Holland was perfectly cast as the sweet and likeable Ian. He made me care for the young elf. Pratt has returned to his pre-glow-up days of playing the schlubby loser as his older brother Barley, who spends his days playing a medieval battle game Quests of Yore, which helps them navigate their journey to find the gem. They are surrounded by an intriguing array of characters, from Julia Louis-Dreyfus as their widowed mum Laurel – she is very cool and feisty – Octavia Spencer as Corey, a manticore who comes out of retirement, and Mel Rodriguez as Colt Bronco, a centaur, who is their mum’s new boyfriend as well as a police officer. The fantastical world is also filled with fun ideas, such as a dragon instead of a pet dog and angry pixies who ride motorbikes.

I wasn’t immediately sold on the bizarre adventure in Onward and I only really became invested in it during the final act, but I’m sure children will be thrilled by the road trip adventure. I’ve seen people describe this as the best Pixar film in years, but I wouldn’t go that far. It is an enjoyable, watchable film but the storyline isn’t particularly memorable and doesn’t stand out in comparison to so many other great Pixar films.

In cinemas Friday 6th March 

Rating: 4/5

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