Onward is set in a suburban fantasy world that is inhabited by different mythical creatures, where magic was once commonly used, now has become redundant due to how advanced technology has evolved over the years.
Part coming-of-age comedy and part road-trip movie, Onward tells the story of teenage elf Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) who is lacking in confidence and his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) who enjoys playing role-playing games. Their father passed away due to illness before Ian was born and they are raised by their mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her new boyfriend Colt Bronco (Mel Rodriguez) who Ian and Barley dislike.
It is Ian‘s 16th birthday and Laurel gives her sons a present from their father that he wanted them to have when they both turned 16. The present is a spell that will resurrect their father for 24 hours. However, Ian is unable to complete the spell and only the lower half of their father’s body is resurrected before a key gem is destroyed.
The brothers embark on a quest to find another gem so they can complete the spell, Ian can finally meet his father and Barley can see his father one more time. When Laurel finds out that her boys are gone, she ends up going on her own mission in an attempt to find them.
I enjoyed the dynamic of having two different types of leading characters and the way that they are both portrayed. Tom Holland can make you believe that Ian is lacking in confidence by sounding anxious a lot of the time, while Chris Pratt was purposefully so over the top as Barley, which really suited his character as being a fanatic of magic history and role-playing games. Both were very entertaining in the process and had a convincing and heartwarming brotherly chemistry, naturally bouncing off each other. Both characters strengths and weaknesses are highlighted throughout the story, but what also happens is that the two characters find out they have strengths that they never knew they had and they support each other for the majority of the film.
Onward has a lot of funny and heartfelt moments but the film is also surprisingly suspenseful. This is evident during a scene where Ian has to walk across a bottomless pit using only magic. Even though the film is animated, it will still have you on the edge of your seat during the entire scene. As to be expected, the animation, the characters and storyline of Onward is of a high quality, which is to be expected with a Disney-Pixar film.
Onward was initially released in Australian cinemas on the 2nd of April but it’s run was quickly and unfortunately cut short on the big screens due to the global pandemic. It will now be released in Australia on Disney+ from 24th of April and is currently available to purchase and download from various other digital platforms.