Home Film ‘Soul’ Review – Ticks Nearly All of Pixar’s Boxes | London Film Festival 2020

‘Soul’ Review – Ticks Nearly All of Pixar’s Boxes | London Film Festival 2020

by Ben Rolph

Pixar and Pete Docter return into each other’s arms with Soul, the newest highly anticipated film in the studio’s upstanding repertoire. The film is a serviceably fun piece of entertainment that is both sweet and nicely simplistic. Like many of Docter’s works, one can imagine that its story will capture hearts, yet it may not fill all of them. Soul lacks its promise of true heart-wrench and touch, the shredding of one’s heart isn’t there.

Jamie Foxx gives copious amounts of energy to his voice-work, he’s able to spark a true sense of life to the film. While Soul isn’t perfect, it does succeed in most of its inherent intentions. Narratively, Soul ticks nearly all of Pixar’s boxes and as a film it’s engaging, although one can’t help to shake off the feeling that something’s missing. Faltering in its screenplay, it feels botched together and almost checklist-like. There is little style to it’s telling, it’s very simplistic, but perhaps that’s just what they were going for? Hitting those bullet points.

‘Soul’ courtesy of Disney • Pixar

We follow Joe (Jamie Foxx), a middle-school band teacher. Upon getting the gig of his dreams, his life is plunged away and he must find his soul to find his way back. Entering this other world, he realizes that life hasn’t gone the way he wanted or expected. Assigned to a new soul in this newfound realm, 22 (Tina Fey) finds passion with the help of Joe. 

A typical Pixar film in prospect, however, Soul does something new in the fact that it portrays a unique story that feels real and properly influenced from life. Kemp Powers co-directed and wrote Soul, his impact is felt. One cannot ignore its importance representation-wise, especially in terms of animation.

Joe (Jamie Foxx) in ‘Soul’ courtesy of Disney • Pixar

Slipping into generics, Soul’s fun and adventurous atmosphere flusters and nearly becomes just another family animated film. Aspects of its storytelling and execution allow it to sway away from being completely generic. Soul’s animation is impressive, visually it feels familiar and does a fair few interesting things. The soul world is well-executed and conceptually comes across as exciting and vibrant, while in reality is where Soul’s animation shines. Painting a sense of realism to a clearly stylized Pixar-infused world, the depth created is rather remarkable.

Soul is a sweet, fun and thoughtful journey that one can be sure will capture the hearts of many. While, it suffers by falling into generics and lacks a true sense of style.

★★★☆☆

Soul was selected to play at the 2020 BFI London Film Festival! 

Follow Senior Film Critic Ben Rolph on Twitter: @THEDCTVSHOW

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