PIXAR’S “ONWARD” – A Spoiler Free Movie Review

Pixar’s latest movie “Onward” has found a new home on Disney+ after its short run in theaters. Onward’s exit to the smaller screen is not because it is a lackluster movie, but rather due to the current and unfortunate state of our world. While I would have loved to see this movie in theaters, I am extremely thankful that Disney released it on Disney+ early. For anyone itching to see something new during this time of Social Distancing, I think Onward will satisfy.

What follows is my short, mostly SPOILER FREE review! I will include a section at the end with spoilers, but, don’t worry, I’ll giving you plenty of room to get out of here before hand! Have you seen Pixar’s Onward? If so, what are you thoughts? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

Its a coming of age story, with elves.

At its core, Onward is a coming of age story, with Elves. It includes all of the classic elements, a teenager turning 16, trying to make new friends, and going on a life changing quest. In fact, the word “quest” adequately describes the whole movie. The main character, Ian Lightfoot (played by Tom Holland) and his older brother Barley (played by Chris Platt) go on a quest in order to bring back their deceased father for a day. Throughout the movie Ian writes down a number of things he wants to do with his father, and Barley, his odd older brother, is determined to help him do so by taking him on a fantastical quest full of dangers, traps, and magic!

From the beginning, the movie proves to be unique, showing us an endearing world of magic now transformed into a suburban, electricity run town of ease. Time and time again, Ian and Barley must choose between the path of ease or the harder and more dangerous path of magic. If that doesn’t sound enchanting enough, in my opinion, it features some of the best animation from Pixar; everything is so colorful and imaginative that its hard to find a visual flaw. Through it’s animation and story, as well as the great chemistry between Ian and Barley, the film teaches us that not everything is what it seems, as well as the importance of family. I dare say, it may be one of my favorite Pixar movies (although, having played Dungeons and Dragons, I might have been persuaded by the mere concept alone).

The Quest!

Like any good quest, the relationship between the two brothers was also tested. At one point in the movie, Barely realizes that Ian, at least partially, sees him as a screw up. This causes some conflict between the two. The conflict was short lived at first (and was solved in a way that, to me, was funny yet hardly believable), but later came back into play. I really enjoyed the love between these two brother, as well as their conflict, which ended up being an important part of the movie.

The magic system of the world was also very cool. Most of the magic revolved around a staff that was given to them by their father. It included easier spells such as a levitation spell, and a lightning spell, “Voltar Thunderseer,” that was brought up multiple times throughout the movie and was said to be the hardest. The key to using this magic, in classic Disney fashion, was to believe in yourself. But, in the true Pixar way, only a few had the gift.

Ian and Barley were not the only character on a quest. throughout the movie their mother also went on one that would later combine with theirs. The concept of these two quests were rather simple, but I toughly enjoyed how they overlapped. Even though I could guess what would happen in many parts of the movie there were other parts that I was completely surprised about, like the ending.

The Quest’s End.

Without going into details, I was amazed at how the quest ended. I personally liked it, but others may not. I watched this movie with my brother, who also enjoyed most of the movie but he did not like how it ended. He didn’t find it satisfying. Those who saw the movie know exactly what he is talking about. I on the other hand loved the ending, as well as the message it conveyed regarding their father and each other, even if it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. For me, the end of the movie was both satisfying and bold, and I thought the message was absolutely brilliant and a good reminder that, well, please pardon me because I do need to go into spoilers.

Beware, there will be spoilers after the following poster!

But if you haven’t seen the movie, and would like to save the surprise for when you watch it on your couch, then let me summarize this movie once more.

Onward is a coming of age movie about an elf who goes on a quest with his brother to bring back his father, and on the way he must learn valuable lessons about himself, as well as his brother. It’s an excellent family movie filled with fantasy. And I highly suggest booting up Disney+ to watch it!


So you decided to stick around for the spoiler? Ok then. Well, here we go…

Grab your tissues folks, cause Pixar’s done it again!

Wow! I was absolutely amazed at how this ended. Ian went on a quest to bring back his father. He wanted to do many things with his dad, such as take a walk, play catch, have a heart to heart, as well as learn how to drive. Throughout the movie we see Ian and Barley, as well as their half formed father, go on a road trip that includes all of these things. To each of their surprise, the end of the quest brought them both back to their home town and school. I didn’t realize it then, but that was extremely symbolic. What Ian was searching for in his father was already at home, in his brother. In the end, Ian ends up sacrificing the short time he could have had with his father so that Barley could see him one last time. After all, Ian had already found the father figure he was looking for in his older brother.

I think this is a great message, and a unique one as well. The thing that you seek for (in the movie, it was a father figure) is already right where you are. The Quest was not pointless because he did not get to meet his dad, but in a melancholy way it was meaningful because Ian found that he already had exactly what he was looking for. How many times do we long for something we already have? That’s something to think about.

So have you seen Onward? Did you enjoy it as much as I did, or maybe less? Feel free to comment below with your own thoughts!