'Soul' Film Review: A Disoriented Gem
Updated: Feb 4
By Brad Miller
"I was born to play."
2020 may be one of the most memorable years for the wrong reasons. Many lives have been changed, and for avid moviegoers, their routine of checking out the next blockbuster in theaters was stripped away from them.
New movies releasing on streaming services isn't ideal. But, "Soul" is well worth a watch even if the typical Pixar audiences may not enjoy it as much as previous works.
Joe, a middle-school band teacher, has a real serious passion for music, specifically Jazz. He thought that by now, he'd have accomplished his dream of becoming a well-known Jazz artist, but he's fallen a little short.
His life takes quite a turn after he finally gets a real chance to prove himself, and along the way, Joe must learn what it means to have a soul.
A Visual Masterpiece
To not give attention to the appearance of the film would be a huge mistake. The New York environments and characters truly put the quick animation cash grabs that come out every year to shame.
The movie feels like it captures the nature of New York, and it stands out. For a city that appears in so many films, a feat such as that is remarkable.
One of the biggest complaints has to be that just not enough time is spent in the city itself.
Very Thought Provoking
"Soul" may be the most mature Pixar film to date. The themes addressed require deep thought. You may even find yourself questioning your own life choices.
It is a powerful thing that a film whose designated audience is the family can encourage people to think along those lines.
Just Who Is This For?
After a relatively slow start, I found myself getting significantly invested in the story about a half-hour into the film. As the movie continued, one thing that kept popping in my head was, "Who is this for?" Pixar's audience has always been family. This time I wasn't so sure.
I don't know what a 5-year-old will get from this film. The slow nature is bound to turn off many children and impatient viewers. New York, while visually appealing, is not the only location in the film, and the other areas don't feel filled with life.
Some of the best animations use many colors and blend them beautifully. Because of that, plenty of younger viewers can get engaged in some media even if the story is not very alluring to them.
Lastly, the comedy is not enough to keep audiences engaged, if that was the deciding factor in watching the motion picture. The jokes are pretty good, and they don't overstay their welcome. However, they don't come often enough.
I feel bad for those who won't make it through the lengthy introduction. They're missing out on a profound film that frankly can cause you to think about your own life.
This story feels relatable. Many people go through similar events. It certainly gave me food for thought.
The animation is next level. I don't believe there are many other films where New York City has looked this good. All of the human characters have unique looks and possess depth. Most of the characters that Joe encounters could easily get their own specials on Disney+. They’re just enjoyable!
How many children will enjoy this? While 'Soul' is marketed as a family film, I don't believe kids will end up getting it. The messaging is what makes the movie as good as it is. Without it, it would still be a decent film, but its maturity allows it to stand out from its fellow Pixar movies.
Finally, I think this film will be divisive, with people either praising it or letting others know it’s being blown way out of proportion. Even if you don't like traditional Pixar motion pictures, I encourage you to give “Soul” a shot.
Verdict 7.5 out of 10 Stars