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Onward (2020) - Blu-ray Review

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Onward (2020)

What's the first question everyone asks whenever you’ve just watched a new Pixar film? “Where does it rank?” Of course, they’re asking where it fits within the hierarchy of Pixar films. And let’s face it, even a bad Pixar film tops most cinema fare these days, so when we say that Onward ranks somewhere in the upper third of the pack, that’s actually pretty high praise.

"with a runtime of 104 minutes (the longest of any Pixar film to date) and a bit darker tone, it just might be better suited for older adolescents – and adults – rather than the toddler set"


The first thing you should know is that Onward doesn’t really feel like most Pixar films. Yes, it’s warm and inviting, is busting with grand themes, and, as expected, always finds a way to blend humor, action and tons of heart. But this one is a bit more mature than most, with a fairly sophisticated examination of family relationships at its core. That’s not to say kids won’t love it. They will. But with a runtime of 104 minutes (the longest of any Pixar film to date) and a bit darker tone, it just might be better suited for older adolescents – and adults – rather than the toddler set.

Onward opens with a voice-over that tells us of the magic that once existed in the fantasy world of New Mushroomton where the film is set. Full of elves, trolls, centaurs, dragons, and other fantastic beasts, Mushroomton surprisingly resembles our own real world where cell phones, cars, and electronic gadgets have suddenly taken over. Gone are the spells, magic, curses, and cultural roots that had been in place for thousands of years, leaving in their wake a soulless populace more interested in convenience and instant gratification than the old ways of wizardry and difficult-to-learn spells. In other words, a society that loses its sense of self. Sound familiar? {googleads}

In the now-modernized Mushroomton, Barley (Chris Pratt) is a boisterous 19-year-old elf who loves magic and succeeds in role-playing games yet struggles to find success in the real world. Barley was a young boy when his father passed way while his younger brother Ian (Tom Holland) was too young to remember their dad.

On Ian’s 16th birthday, the two receive an unexpected gift that sets into motion an ultimate quest that will drive the momentum for the remainder of the film. Barley is a master at the Dungeons & Dragons-like RPG game of Quests of Yore, and harbors an encyclopedic recollection of myths and ancient spells. So when the two brothers discover that their gift is a magic staff that can bring back their father for a day, their quest begins for the missing stone that will complete the spell.

Directed by Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) from a script he wrote with Jason Headley (A Bad Idea Gone Wrong), Onward contains all the jokes, quips, emotion, and wit we expect from a Pixar film, while also exploring many layers-of-life things like death of culture, loss of loved ones, and appreciation of the things we have – all hallmarks of a Pixar film as well.The film also stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as single mom and devoted mother to the boys, and Mel Rodriguez as a centaur cop named Colt Lightfoot. Onward (2020)

Speaking of Pixar hallmarks, the world-building in Onward is absolutely spectacular and unquestionably rivals the lavish underwater world of Finding Nemo and the innovative styling of The Incredibles. With Onward, we’re straight into a fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons with a perilous quest that features tiny biker-gang sprites, down-on-their-luck unicorns, Indiana Jones-like puzzles, and a once-fearful part lion, part bat and part scorpion Manticore named Corey (Octavia Spencer) who now prefers modern convenience and has since learned to tap her practical side. Friend or enemy, we love watching all these characters, and actually care about them as well. That's what happens with a Pixar film; we become invested in the story. And that's certainly what happens here.

Dark, scary, overly-complex, and about 15 minutes too long, Onward will likely fly right over the heads of younger audience members… or else scare their pants off. So, be aware of that if you're planning to hit the theater with toddlers in tow. Certainly not a top-five Pixar film, but with a shout out in the credits and several D&D nods, don’t be surprised if this thing finds a cult-like audience from within the RPG crowd.

Note: There isn’t a Pixar short this time around, however, as confirmed earlier in February, there is a Simpsons short called Playdate With Destiny that will precede the main feature.

4/5 stars

Onward (2020)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD

Home Video Distributor: Disney | Buena Vista
Available on Blu-ray
- May 20, 2020
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)French: Dolby Digital 5.1Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; three-disc set; DVD copy; digital redemption coupon
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Pixar's latest film, Onward comes to home video in a nice little 3-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code edition from Disney/Buena Vista. The first thing noticed is that the blue eco-case doesn't come housed inside a cardboard sleeve. This is a nice movement we'd like to see gain some traction. They are a waste of natural resources and serve no practical purpose. In fact, most countries outside the U.S. (particularly Australia) don't have the cardboard sleeves.

Included inside are a blu-ray disc with the film, a DVD disc with a standard definition copy of the film stuck on the same spindle (always awkward), and a third blu-ray disc containing a smattering of extra bonus features, including deleted scenes, a musical score feature, cast/crew interviews, and more. There's also a coupon code for a digital download. And of particular interest to streamers, the digital download comes with a free year of Apple +. Nothing too in-depth or revealing but Onward fans and Pixar lovers will certainly appreciate the bonus material offered.

Video

As expected, Onward is a beautiful film with a luscious color palette and a depth of detail that must be seen to be believed. Disney does a great job with the 1080p (2.39:1) transfer that shows little to no flaws anywhere. Very near perfect in fact! Colors always remain well-saturated throughout making this the perfect specimen for your high-end home video system. For those with DVD players, there's a DVD disc included that puts on a quite an impressive show itself.

Audio

The English language 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track rumbles, shakes, and shimmies with a raucous intensity that never lets the low-end go to sleep. Voices are always clear and crisp even when playing over the omnipresent ambient noise and the original music track from Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna. There's also an Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital language tracks, English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There's a third disc that contains only the supplemental materials. There's nearly a full hour of extra content including 30 minutes worth of deleted scenes, four making-of featurettes, and trailers. The deleted scenes play kind of like mini short and are quite entertaining in themselves.

  • Heart's Fire (07:35)
  • Dragon High (06:31)
  • Wizard Rock (06:31)
  • Fantasy is Our Destiny (02:29)
  • Deleted Scenes (29:27)

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

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Onward (2020)

MPAA Rating: PG for action/peril and some mild thematic elements.
Runtime:
102 mins
Director
: Dan Scanlon
Writer:
Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley
Cast:
Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Genre
: Comedy | Adventure
Tagline:

Memorable Movie Quote: "I wrote this spell so i could see for myself who my boys will grow up to be."
Theatrical Distributor:
Disney | Pixar
Official Site: https://movies.disney.com/onward
Release Date:
March 6, 2020
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 20, 2020.
Synopsis: Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

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Onward (2020)

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