Newest Reviews
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
Treasure City
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Hands of Orlac, The
Death has Blue Eyes
Kala Azar
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Bank Job
Drunk Bus
State Funeral
Army of the Dead
Dinner in America
Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes
Newest Articles
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
  Onward For Elf Reasons
Year: 2020
Director: Dan Scanlon
Stars: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Kyle Bornheimer, Lena Waithe, Ali Wong, Grey Griffin, Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama, George Psarras, John Ratzenberger
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: There was a time when magic was rife across the land, and wizards and witches were able to use it with skill, but those days are long gone, leaving a population of magical creatures who use stuff like lightbulbs, mobile phones and cars never needing to apply the supernatural to their lives again. Most of them are not too bothered by this life of convenience, but for some, it was a lost time of wonder and would be great to return to it, though despite their hopes they are aware this will never happen. One sixteen-year-old, Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland), would certainly benefit from the more magical life, it might get him some friends for a start; he blames his absent father for this...

Though his father has a good reason for being absent: he's dead. Indeed, he passed away before Ian got to know him, therefore he is jealous of his big brother Barley (Chris Pratt, making this an unofficial Marvel reunion) who does have three, maybe four memories of their parent, though unlike the mopey sibling, Barley is relentlessly upbeat and optimistic. This is because he has something to take his mind off his problems, an escape from the harsh realities of what could have been a disadvantaged existence: he plays Dungeons & Dragons. Except it's not actually called that in the movie, it just might as well have been since that's obviously what they were referring to in-story.

It was a nice touch, the elves who make up the main characters being transported by the very thing their culture had taken for granted so much that it disappeared outside of fantasy tales, and this comfort in childhood diversions was a strong part of the point director Dan Scanlon was making about moving on, accepting the past but building on it, not wallowing in it. Ian (can't be many movies featuring a lead called Ian. Or Iain) is hampered by the ideas of what might have been rather than constructing his own life with what was, or is, and he takes a while to cotton on to the fact that he may not have had a father figure, but he did have a loving brother and mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

Nevertheless, the plot saw fit to dangle a tantalising element of that past before him like a carrot for a mule, all to get him kickstarted on a path to self-realisation: it was appropriate that kind of nineteen-seventies thinking should be couched in a very seventies concept of what fantasy stories should be, part Lord of the Rings, part hippy-dippy idealism and attainment of personal actualisation goals. It turns out Ian's dad was a dabbler in magic before he popped his clogs, and honed a spell to bring him back on the kid's sixteenth birthday as a present, but only for a day - when the sun sets, he will vanish forever. Finding a staff as a present, complete with magic stone, he brings back the man just as he said. Well, he half does. Barley gets overexcited in his puppyish fashion and messes up the spell.

This leaves Ian the chance to spend the day with, er, half his dad, a development that for all the well-worn trappings of the setting was at least quite original, an idea worthy of Terry Pratchett. It's the bottom half, which can be communicated with by tapping his foot and dad dancing, but now Ian and Barley need to get another crystal to restore the rest of him before he disappears. Thus we were on another fantasy trope, the quest, which was contrasted with the comical mundanity of the world as it now was. This did lead to some genuinely good gags, but the desire of the film appeared to be to make you cry, as with many a Pixar project, and that would probably only apply if, like Scanlon, you had lost your father and had additional issues that went unresolved because of it. It was well-meaning, hard to dislike, and had a premise and world-building that you imagine could be used again for a range of yarns, but remained a shade too scatty in its delivery to rank among the studio's greatest. But that was no slight. Music by Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 12069 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: