‘Onward’ Movie Review

On Friday, March 6th, 2020, I got to see Disney/Pixar’s latest film Onward with the Disney Ohana Club. I enjoyed every minute of it because there were so many twists and turns, and it was very different from what Disney has done before! I should probably mention that all of my movie reviews contain spoilers, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, I suggest you watch the movie first and then read my review afterward! 

Onward is about two elf brothers, Ian and Barley, who go on a quest to find a gem that will complete a spell to bring their deceased father back to life for a day. The film stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, a duo I didn’t know I needed until I witnessed it myself! They had so much chemistry and did a great job at portraying brothers, and Tom Holland’s American accent was pretty good! Tom Holland plays Ian, a high school student that lacks self-confidence and has magical abilities. While Chris Pratt plays Barley, Ian’s older brother that loves role-playing and historical fantasies, whom he finds embarrassing.

On Ian’s sixteenth birthday, he and Barley are given a gift by their late father, who passed away due to a severe illness before Ian’s birth. The gift contains a magical staff, a rare gem, and a letter containing a spell that will bring Wilden, their father, back to life for only a day! Barley tries to cast the spell but fails in doing so. However, when Ian succeeds in casting the spell, only half of Wilden’s body appears due to Barley interfering. After using up the first gem, Ian and Barley go on a quest in Barley’s beloved van, “Guinevere,” to locate another gem to complete the spell before the sun sets the next day!

The setting takes place in a world with mythical creatures, magic, and wonder. In a way, it was kind of making fun of modern society because the mythical creatures ruled the world, and everyone relied on magic for tasks. However, due to their inability to master it and advanced technology taking over, magic slowly became forgotten. Just like how technology is dramatically taking over our world, and people have to adjust to it. I enjoyed the references to the modern world, and I found it relatable in many ways.

While I did love the movie and characters overall, I felt like it lacked explanations on a few things. 1) Why does Ian have spell-casting powers, but not Barley? 2) What kind of illness did Wilden have that caused his death? The latter isn’t a big deal, but it bothered me because the movie just described it as “severe illness.” 3) How old is Barley? Is he a high school dropout, a college student, or a middle-aged adult living at home? I’m guessing a college student because there was that one scene where the boys’ mom stepped on one of Barley’s toy figures, and she mentioned that this was the longest gap year ever, etc.

Speaking of Barley, I LOVED him!!! He was so carefree, had so much confidence in himself, and stood up for what he believed in! People thought of him as a freak, even his brother, but he still stayed true to who he was. Also, if it weren’t for Barley’s instincts and his interest in fantasy role-playing, he and Ian would’ve never found the gem! But the scene that made me admire Barley more was when he admitted to Ian that he had a chance to say goodbye to Wilden before he died at the hospital. But he didn’t go in because of how sick their father looked and was afraid. Since then, Barley has not shown any fear. 

Besides Barley, Ian gradually developed throughout the film, thanks to Barley and Ian’s new magical abilities. Yeah, Ian was ashamed of Barley at times for being weird and an outsider, but he was always there to push Ian out of his comfort zone and gave him more confidence to master his newfound powers. Ian was sad about not having their father growing up, but Barley was his father-figure all along! One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Ian allows Barley to spend time with Wilden before he disappears so that Barley could say goodbye to their father. If I could cry during movies, I would’ve cried during that scene because Ian looked so happy watching Wilden and Barley embrace each other before Wilden disappeared. 

I wouldn’t mind if they made a sequel of Onward, just so that my questions can get some answers. But at the same time, I’m glad with how the movie ended and where things left off. If you get a chance to see this film, either in theaters or on Disney+, please do so because it truly is magical indeed!

Take care and see ya real soon!

Lana

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