By Wan Annissa Saifullizan
Soul is a funny film with terrific performances but falls short to meet the expectations that come with being a Pixar film.
If you have seen the trailer for Pixar’s newest movie Soul, you might be expecting it to be a sequel to Inside Out. With the brightly colored animations and heavy themes, Soul bears a striking resemblance to the 2015 hit. However, while this film is a fun watch, it fails to have the same soulful warmth other films directed by Peter Docter possessed, like Inside Out and Up.
The film’s biggest attraction is its star-studded cast. Being the first Pixar movie centred around a African-American character, the cast featured multiple talented black actors like Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashād. Foxx’s voice acting as the main character, Joe Gardner, a struggling pianist grappling with the concept of death, is surprisingly convincing, despite being known for more action-filled performances.
His character is accompanied by 22, an unborn soul who struggles to find a point in life on Earth. Voiced by the hilarious Tina Fey, the juxtaposition of the character’s adorable appearance and nihilistic persona is the main source of comedy. The running gag of her being mentored by famously peaceful people like Mother Theresa and Gandhi but still managing to anger them with her pessimism consistently cracked me up.
Despite its highlights, the film disappoints in a few key areas. Firstly, the movie’s ambitious attempt at exploring existential themes like life, death, purpose, and depression all at once within 100 minutes was mediocre at best. After the movie ended, I was yearning for its heavy themes to be more fleshed out.
Secondly, the ending did no justice to the film’s plot. The plot in first two-thirds of the film seemed to be building up decently, albeit the lack of focus. Hence, I was anticipating a tear-jerking ending, similar to other Pixar films. However, the ending felt inconsistent with the entire build-up of the plot, leaving me more confused than touched.
If you are looking for a fun film to watch with your family, you can catch this film in cinemas or on Disney+. It has something for all ages, from cute visuals for the children and philosophical themes for the adults. However, if you are going into the film expecting another Pixar classic, I suggest you give this film a pass.
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