I don’t know if Onward is the first release directly affected by COVID-19, but it feels like one of prominence.
Onward was set to be the annual return of Pixar to cinema; An animated spin on the world of fantasy, the film quickly entered its own new world as COVID set in. This world was one made up of streaming and digital purchases; You see, countless distributors quickly moved their titles to platforms like the Google Play Store and iTunes, which means we saw Onward in a precarious situation.
If you want to understand how coincidental the timing for Onward was, look at this; The premiere was in late February at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival. This was followed by an early March release in the U.S; It was then supposed to roll-out to the rest of the world from there. If you timeline the feature alongside COVID, it should have been one of our last cinematic releases. In fact, it did see an Advanced Weekend before the lockdown locked down.
But it’s available right now for Digital Purchase, and streaming on Disney+ from April 24th.
There won’t be many movies in a position as unfortunate as Onward, with the majority having enough time and luck to reschedule. So here’s a review for a feature which should’ve seen the big-screen, but is now part of a new future which may see some interesting changes for film moving…Onward.
Teenage elf brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father. Like any good adventure, their journey is filled with cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. But when dear Mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) finds out her sons are missing, she teams up with the legendary manticore (Octavia Spencer) to bring her beloved boys back home.
Pixar has a certain magic to them, don’t they? A sort of whimsy and need to tell you something sweet, while you chew through something terribly bitter. Onward follows this classic Pixar pattern; We join brothers Ian and Barley on their journey to spend one last day with their late father. That’s because their world is a fairy tale where magic exists, along with mythical creatures of yore; BUT…it’s also modern. You know, there’s something in there about how working with the land and olden ways, instead of against it, is more beneficial, but that might just be me.
Their journey showcases what may have been lost, and can be found, all against the backdrop of teenage angst. Yes, Holland‘s voice work as the exceptionally whiny Ian is great, but boy…THOSE types of characters am I right? If anything, it helps Pratt to shine more, as the fun and “living their best life” Barley. YES! The supporting character is definitely your fave in this. And that’s not even including Dreyfus and Spencer who have their own fun adventure in the film!
Wonderfully animated, with Pixar delivering possibly their best, and most well-animated feature yet, Onward is a fun enough romp with enough juice in it’s magical gas canister to possibly return in future. Whether or not it will get another adventure is up to you, but I’d love to pull out another splinter and see what it conjures.
While not as convincing as other Pixar adventures, the fun set-pieces and supporting characters, along with its stunning animation, means Onward still delivers.
A fun, and insightful look, into the magic of our own world, Onward is a perfect watch for while we're all stuck inside.