As you might have noticed if you know me a little, I like Dungeons and Dragons. Actually, I just really like fantasy in general. So when I heard the premise of Onward, where two brothers go on a quest to bring back their deceased father for a day, that intrigued me to say the least.
The Magical World
Onward takes place in a world that is kind of a mix between that of a Tabletop RPG and our current society. Although magic is still a thing, it has become obsolete due to all the technological advancements over the year. Always an interesting idea, if you’re looking to make a new campaign yourself. We follow two brothers, Ian and Barley, who get a chance to bring back their dead father for a day. Something goes wrong however, and the two embark on a quest to get another shot.
It’s kind of ironic to me how the Pixar film that incorporates magic as a very central part of its plot, is also the one movie kind of misses that Pixar-magic they rock so well in their other movies. Don’t get me wrong, the relationship between Ian and Barley was really well-executed, but I’d just wish there’d be a little more drama I guess? Some more depth would be nice.
And there seems to lie the most prominent problem I have with this film. There is a certain lack of depth that I expected of this type of story. Maybe it is because I compare it to my own D&D experiences too much, but the fact that the surface level is so incredibly strong makes me wish we got more.
The Real World
When we move out of story and world-building territory however, I have a few more praises to address. First of all, the film looks great. You can really see how much Pixar’s style has evolved since, for example, the first Toy Story. I also want to applaud the actors for putting down some solid performances and bringing the characters to life in a convincing way.
While Onward might not be the most heart-warming or deep-going Pixar story so far, it still manages to set a memorable experience in stone. And it offers me some inspiration for my next D&D adventures!