Film Opinion: Onward (2020)

First of all, this is not a review. I just wanna call this one as an opinion. As this might come from my very own personal view. Also beware there may be spoilers ahead!
Onward poster (Image: Disney)

Long time ago, the world was full of wonder, adventurous, exciting, best of all.. there was magic.

At first I just wanted to enjoy the film, and that was it. But.. I changed my mind. I needed to write some notes. I really wanted to write about this film! Personally I couldn’t write about a film without putting up some notes. 

What Is This Film Anyway?

When I first heard about the film, saw the poster, etc., I thought it was like a long journey, maybe like weeks or months kind of a quest. But it turned out to be a day, 24 hours kind of a journey.

Ian was an elf boy who never met his father because the old man had died a long time ago. Ian had a bigger brother – Barley who was a little bit luckier. He had like three or four memories about their father.

The adventure started when Ian turned 16. He got a wizard staff, a Phoenix Gem, and a letter that had a visitation spell as his birthday gift from his father. Well, more like some gift for both Ian and Barley because of their father’s message to the mother to give them those stuff when they were after 16.

No Brotherhood Detected

Physically aside, I didn’t feel Ian and Barley-our main characters were brothers. The connection between them was not there. Sorry Spidey and Starlord (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt-VO of Ian and Barley), I am more into Spidey-Pool!

Anyway, at first, yes there was no connection between them. After some flashback scenes later in the film, I started to see them as brothers. Maybe if the film started with a kid version of them, I would have felt the relationship. I might be wrong, but maybe there were other things to highlight other than that.


Manticore was a fire-breathing scorpio-dragon-lion being, what? Yes you read it right. It was a kind of mash-up creature you normally see in RPG games, whether video games or board games like Dungeons & Dragons (DND), in which Onward was heavily influenced. 

The first place of the quest was to meet Manticore, a fearless adventurer who would help other adventurers with their quests at her tavern. At least she had already been once. Unfortunately she was just the owner-manager of a now adventure-theme restaurant. 

Now we had a tamed Manticore who wouldn’t let anyone go into any adventure, especially a dangerous one. Not until Ian, who was desperate to get a map for finding the Phoenix Gem – gave a pep talk. Unfortunately (or fortunately), she was gone wild, full of rage kind of beast. 

It was weird though how long she was out of the adventure business. If in the past Manticore was full of power, then when was it? A decade ago? A century ago? When was the magic still around?

The Family Quest

At first it was like a quest for Ian and Barley, brothers kind of an adventure (with a supervision of their father’s bottom part). In the end their mom and Manticore were at it too. Mother’s instinct to keep the children safe. 

There was a strong spell named lightning strike. In order for the spell to cast was to meet all decrees: speak from your heart’s fire, trust yourself and focus. All the steps that Ian figured it out within the quest with his brother’s push.

Reflection to Our World

What was Onward telling us about its world? Stray unicorns, pixies who couldn’t fly and centaurs who couldn’t run. Really? 

Maybe it also pointed to us now. You know, problems maybe started from the 80-90s like a somewhat weak physical body, short-sighted, over-reliance on technology and so on and so forth. Really slapped me in my face!

Let’s Wrap It Up

In the end, Onward is a typical Pixar film. AAA class animation, a heartfelt conclusion, and in a way there must be at least one message for the viewers.

Lightfoot family (Image: Disney)

All of the todo list that Ian wanted to do with his father, he did all of them in the quest with his brother. The father, he always had been there for Ian. Not physically, but in the form of Barley. 

I never had a dad but I always had you.

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