Onward

In the suburbs of an imaginary universe, two elven brothers embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic in the world.

The magicians from Disney / Pixar come back for our greatest happiness! En Avant is Dan Scanlon’s new film, behind Monstres Academy in 2013. Nice film, but one that left no real mark. However, the director gives us here a personal film with a singular universe, for a real success that will not leave anyone indifferent. En Avant takes place in a fantasy world tinged with heroic fantasy! Imagine Willow or the Lord of the Rings, but 2000 years in the future (same assumption as Bright), where technology has replaced magic. A world close to ours finally, where role-playing games are vestiges of legends of yesteryear, where unicorns rummage through the trash, old taverns become pubs and where centaurs, elves and fairies represent so many varied ethnic groups. In this fantastico-realistic universe (a bit like in Monstres & Cie), we meet Ian and Barley Lightfoot, 2 brothers who on the day of 16 years of the 1st, will discover a strange gift from their father who died years earlier. Thanks to a magician’s stick, they will be able to spend 24 hours with their deceased father … obviously things will not go as planned. The spell allows them to get only one half of their father, and it will be the beginning of a quest to complete the spell capable of bringing their father back before sunset. A promising basic premise that foreshadows the potential of this story, drawing both from the monomyth and the attraction of Pixar for the emotional register. Dan Scanlon was inspired by his very personal story, where he and his brother could not know their father, who died when he was one year old. This inspiration is really felt in En Avant, sweating the authenticity of his words, and immediately bringing empathy for his 2 brothers who are all opposed. Ian is introverted and insecure, while Barley is a comedic ball of energy, always ready for adventure and follower of old legends of yesteryear and role-playing games. Looks like buddy movie (flagship element of Pixar filmography) and road trip for a result again completely successful. En Avant is also doing well in the multitude of themes addressed: the quest for the father, assertiveness, forgiveness, mourning, search for adventure, fraternal relationship … Elements that will nothing deeply new for the studio you could say (Coco and Toy Story also ventured there), but which are treated with real sincerity and intelligence, in particular via a final with undeniable tear power and quite surprising of maturity. Swarming with ideas via its singular universe, En Avant plunges us into a quest that uses the codes of heroic fantasy to use or misuse them. By discovering the use of magic (metaphor of assertiveness), our 2 brothers must stick together, learn from each other for a real transition to adulthood. Spells of all kinds, cyclops and dragon, ancient ruins and magic traps, there are obligatory passages, which if they are sometimes expected, especially in its central part a little more classic, are used wisely and in an always embodied way or significant. In the radius of the secondary characters, we can quote Laurel Lightfoot, mother of the 2 protagonists, fitness fan and ready to do anything to save her children. Another positive point: Corey la Manticore, formerly a great warrior sporting the sword with courage, but now converted into a stressed restaurant manager. Pleasant archetypes that bring life and humor, emphasizing the need not to forget our aspirations or convictions. Little or no negative so far. We can say that visually the film is not necessarily a slap (especially next to a Frozen II or Toy Story 4) or even the best staging we had in the studio (compared to the Incredibles 2 ). But never mind, En Avant remains very shimmering for the eyes and extremely lively, with a graphic style that matches its artistic direction well. Even in the music department, Mychael and Jeff Danna (Pi’s Odyssey, Le Voyage d’Arlo) offering a soundtrack full of emotion and tenderness, enhancing a good number of sequences. If the film had benefited from a more original and innovative central segment, as well as a grander staging, we would have had a new classic from Pixar. But there is no point in sulking his pleasure as En Avant turns out to be a very nice surprise. Funny, engaging, rhythmic and moving, there is a very good animated film for young and old! They are strong at Pixar, very strong ..

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