Toy Story 4 and Coco filmmakers Disney-Pixar return this week with Onward, a heartwarming and funny story of a magical quest.
The movie takes place in a fantastical land where the inhabitants have become complacent about the concept of magic. But when two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, decide to use a spell to bring their late father back to life for 24 hours, it sets in motion a life-changing road trip.
Here's why you need to watch the movie in Cineworld.
1. It's a typically imaginative Pixar conceit
Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and The Witcher mean we're pretty inured to fantasy landscapes involving orcs, witches, giants and the like. So trust the makers of Toy Story to put a witty little twist on the scenario. The central concept of Onward is that it takes place in a world where fantasy creatures are the norm, with unicorns roaming through trash cans and centaurs acting as police officers.
The thing is, it wasn't always like this. In a clever prologue, the movie shows us how a mythical, arcane landscape was first altered by the concept of the lightbulb, with electricity later giving away to appliances and much more. This ultimately meant that the essential notion of magic was subsumed by mundane trappings, and ultimately thought to be lost forever.
That is, until young outcast elf Ian Lightfoot inherits a staff from his late father, and is told by his older brother Barley that he is destined to wield actual magic. The fun part is that Ian must come to terms with his abilities, on course to bringing his dad back to life. As the two brothers embark on a road trip to locate the source of the staff's powers, many of Ian's attempts at magic go hilariously wrong, with the awkward teen growing into the person (elf) he was destined to be.
2. It's got an all-star voice cast
The movie features exuberant vocal chemistry between Marvel stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, who voice bickering brothers Ian and Barley. Yes, we get Spider-Man and Star Lord in one movie, and they provide a nice chalk and cheese dynamic, with Ian reluctantly embracing his magical powers, while Barley guides him along the way.
Barley derives all of his understanding of magic from his favourite role-playing games – the movie presents a twist on the classic Dungeons and Dragons, with which Barley is obsessed. The thing is, the older brother must learn to live in the real world; the notion of magic can't simply be reiterated via a rule book, and it's this growth to self-knowledge on the part of both brothers that makes the movie affecting.
Backing up Holland and Pratt is Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, who brings great warmth to her role of Corey, a manticore (kind of a lion crossed with a lizard) who has forsaken her destiny to run a fantasy-themed restaurant. And there's also a role for Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, voicing Ian and Barley's mother Laurel who sets off in hot pursuit of her kids.
3. It will make you laugh and cry
When Ian and Barley attempt to bring their father back from the dead, the spell wears off before his top half appears. This means he manifests as a pair of legs, allowing for plenty of rib-tickling slapstick comedy as they're compelled to guide him from one place to the next. (Ian's solution to giving his dad a body is also inspired, and very funny.)
However, as the ticking clock narrative implies, there are more than a few wrenches of the heart along the way. Well, what did you expect from the geniuses behind Inside Out. Watch out for a clever shift in perspective towards the climax of the movie – it's a neat way of subverting the usual 'tearjerking finale' approach. Director Dan Scanlon, who made Monsters University, says this is a very personal story based on his own experiences, so be sure to have a hankie with you.
4. It's screening in a host of formats
Onward screens in Cineworld in a host of immersive and interactive formats – all the better for getting closer to the film's endearing characters. Feel every bump of the journey taken in van Guinevere in 4DX, and marvel at the sheer scale of the fantasy landscape in IMAX and Superscreen. After all, Disney-Pixar movies aren't just there to be watched, but felt, so ensure your Onward experience is a memorable one.
5. It'll make you appreciate your family a whole lot more
Onward reiterates the importance of family in a multitude of emotional ways. Not only are we present with a tale of two boys and their long-lost father, the chemistry between Ian and Barley themselves is fundamental to the storyline. The two siblings must learn to work together, despite their differences; at the start of the movie, Ian is humiliated by Barley for unwittingly sabotaging his birthday party plans, and there's a host of other resentments bubbling beneath the surface, too.
Watching these two undertaking a literal and figurative journey of discovery is a treat. And it's not just their story: both Corey and Laurel also come to terms with who they are, as they set off in pursuit of Ian and Barley. This really is the kind of movie that will have you handing out hugs to your nearest and dearest once it ends.
Click here to book your tickets for Onward, screening in Cineworld cinemas from the 6th of March.