Ian and Barley Lightfoot witness the magic spell emitted by a staff in "Onward".
Another year, another Pixar film. Except this time, the Disney-owned legendary animation studio chose to release their latest feature, "Onward" as early as March for the first time ever. Just so you know, most of their films are actually either released during the summer (May & June) and fall (November) seasons.
Featuring an all-star cast that sees fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) veterans Tom Holland and Chris Pratt reunite in "Onward", we know this film is going to be something special, so here are the 5 things you should know about this magical film!
1) It took a long time to materialise "Onward"
Making "Onward" wasn't a walk in the park, it actually took Pixar Animation Studios nearly six and a half years from initiating the concept right down to completion. According to Kelsey Mann, head of story at Pixar, it all began on September 17, 2013 when he first worked on the project alongside director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae.
2) It was inspired by a true story
Believe it or not, the story behind "Onward" was actually inspired by Dan Scanlon's personal experience. That personal experience in question turns out to be his own relationship with his brother and the bonding with their father, who passed away when Scanlon was around a year old. This helped set the tone of "Onward" and the rest, as they say, is history.
3) Pixar formed their own group to assist on the story's fantasy elements
Louise Smythe a.k.a. Louise the Lion-Hearted is among the Pixar's
contributing team of "The Fellowship" for "Onward".
Given the fact that "Onward" takes place entirely in a fictional world full of elves, pixies and unicorns, the filmmakers behind this ambitious animated project went as far as creating their own consulting team called "The Fellowship". The team consists of Pixar team members who have extensive knowledge of all things fantasy and magic ranging from fans of "Harry Potter" and "The Lord Of The Rings" to role-playing games and anime. They even helped to create different magic spells for the film, namely the Visitation and Growth spells. The latter can be seen in the trailer where Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) attempts to enlarge a gas can with his staff but ends up accidentally shrinking his brother, Barley (Chris Pratt) into miniature size.
4) It took nearly 100,000 storyboards for "Onward"
One of the storyboard artwork for "Onward".
Storyboards are a norm in both live-action and animated features. Although it is an industry standard for any filmmaker to do so, the whole process of storyboarding "Onward" actually took the Pixar's team of story artists a whopping total of 97,759 storyboards. This includes scenes like the "Trust Bridge" sequence, which actually refers to the one where Ian and Barley reach a seemingly bottomless valley. In order to get across the valley, Ian has to use the staff to create a magic bridge of sorts. This particular scene can be briefly seen in one of the trailers.
5) Dan Scanlon is no stranger to directing a Pixar film
Director Dan Scanlon (third from the left) during the global press conference of "Onward".
Last but not least, "Onward" is in the good hands of Dan Scanlon. He first collaborated with Pixar in the financially-successful "Monsters University", where it received several accolades including the Annie Awards (which recognised artistic & technical excellence in animated films and television) and even earned a Best Animated Film nomination at the BAFTA Film Awards. The 2013 animated feature was, of course, a prequel to 2001's "Monsters, Inc." "Onward" would mark his second feature-length directorial effort for the Pixar Animation Studios, even though he did several creative jobs for the likes of "Brave", "Inside Out" and "Toy Story 4" during his intervening years.
Cinema Online, 07 March 2020